Okay, getting a low score can be stressful. We’ve gotten low scores ourselves sometimes, so we understand. We believe that knowing when you’re struggling is better than not knowing — in fact, it’s empowering.
Learning about your weak spots is how you improve and gain deeper self-insight. Also, understanding what you’re are doing well is helpful and feels great! Sure, there are always growing pains along the way, but now you know where to direct your energy in your professional development. So what now?
Here are a few ideas that Rhabit users have shared and some that we use ourselves.
Let’s say you get low feedback on the following behavior: “Quickly responds to calls and emails.” Hang up your mental mirror and try to observe your own behavior. Next time you receive an email from one of your feedback providers, check out how you react to it. Do you respond immediately? Do you delay the response? Do you plan to respond but then never get to it? Whatever the reason, try to understand what you actually do in the situation. Then, look for remedies and solutions. Our tips can be a good first starting point for advice.
Ask your feedback providers for more detail
Sometimes, we simply don’t understand what we are doing wrong and the mental mirror won’t help. In this situation, it often helps to ask your feedback providers. Let’s pick this behavior as an example: “Communicates important information in a timely manner.” You may simply not understand what it is that you’re not sharing. Here’s what you can ask:
- “Can you help me understand how I could share information with you in a more timely and effective way?”
- “It looks like I could improve how I share information with others. Can you give me advice on what I could do better in the future?”
- “What kind of information do you need from me, what do you do with it, and how quickly do you need it?”
See what we did there? Or rather, what we didn’t do? We didn’t ask, “Can you give me an example of when I didn’t share information fast enough?” or, “Why are you giving me negative feedback?” You don’t want to force your feedback providers to justify themselves. Questions about the past tend to come across as defensive. Also, think about how it would feel if the tables were turned — you might be putting your feedback provider in an uncomfortable position by asking them to justify their feedback. They may worry they’ll look petty and mean when they were really just being honest. In contrast, feedback about what you can do better in the future is always more constructive for you and your feedback providers.
We have posted below a quick discussion planner. It could be a helpful template to plan and structure such a conversation.
Ask your manager
Your manager should be a key resource in figuring out where you can improve. We say should here because we know that managers are often not inclined to have conversations around feedback. However, guiding your development is part of their job description. Aside from getting on their calendar, clarify in your agenda that you want to focus on one particular habit. Make clear that your meeting is not about your performance in general but that you are interested in specific feedback on one habit.
During this meeting, you can follow the same general pattern that we laid out for conversations with your coworkers (see above). However, you can also ask your manager about how you are doing in certain situations. For example, you could ask your manager to give you feedback on your ability to influence decision-makers in the next meeting. Your manager can now keep her eyes an ears open, maybe even taken notes, and provide very specific feedback.
You can also ask your manager to team you up with someone who has mastered a habit. For example, maybe Susan in your team has very positive feedback on the habit Communication. Maybe she is willing to give you advice or simply let you observe her on her next client call.
Ask a trusted friend
All the suggestions we have made above also apply to a trusted friend or ally who you may be working with. The keyword here is “trusted”. A trusted friend will likely be comfortable giving you feedback because it will not have a bad outcome for them. If there is trust, they know that you won’t get mad at them for being honest. Try not to ask for too much. Again, focus on one habit.