Everyone experiences developmental feedback at work, whether with their, peers, managers or clients.
After any such interchange, most people say ‘phew’ —glad that’s over. But the key response is to be proactive, acknowledge that the conversation has taken place, and find a way to take a learning from the feedback even if it has been provided in a clumsy way.
David had been a top salesman in his former company. As a result, he was offered a regional sales managers’s within a larger group. Almost immediately he was called upon to present his strategy for improving the sales performance of his assigned area.
David made a presentation to the Senior Management Team, which, to his horror, was rejected out of hand. He was told that his style and strategic thinking was out of line to that practiced within the company.
David had never suffered a kickback in his sales career. He came out of the meeting, demoralised and lacking any guidance on how to proceed.
The group sales director realised that possibly the senior management team had reacted too negatively and not provided enough guidance. David was appointed to his present role because of his excellent sales performance in the past.
So he had David back in almost immediately. He told David that his previous sales record spoke for itself, and suggested a way forward. He should send an email to all the senior managers who he had presented to, thanking them for such an open and robust exchange. But, while he didn’t accept all their criticism, he acknowledged that his approach would, in future, reflect the style and culture of the group.
The sales director then suggested that David spent the next few weeks embedding himself in the marketing, product development, and sales teams. His performance would not be judged until he had time to do this.
David followed this advice, and, a few months later, did another strategy presentation. This time it was greeted with smiles and warm handshakes. He remained with the same company for several years.
The sales director had handled the consequences of an ineffective feedback conversation in exactly the correct way.
He recognized that David’s morale had been bruised, that he had received no guidance on what he should do differently and that close follow up was necessary, one in which the positives were highlighted and importantly, constructive advice provided on how to deal with the challenges.