The Power of Deep Feedback: Breaking Through Career Plateaus
By | Sep 18, 2014
I started surfing the internet and attending professional meetings and lectures. I listened to women speak about their careers and how they succeeded. I bought Joyce’s book, and a number of others, including David L. Van Rooy’s “Trajectory: Seven Career Strategies to Take You from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.” In my search for ways to develop an effective career plan, I found the following actionable concept particularly helpful... Ask for deep feedback.
Throughout my career, I have known the importance of receiving feedback on a regular basis. I’d been scheduling discussions with my supervisors for years. Van Rooy makes a distinction between “surface feedback” and “deep feedback.” In seeking deep feedback you give others permission to point out your flaws and weaknesses to help you grow by addressing these areas. He suggests setting up face-to-face meetings to ask for feedback from your fans as well as from your critics.
Now, could I have done this ten or even five years ago? Probably not. Until very recently, I was unable or unwilling to process honest communication about my strengths and weaknesses. When I received feedback about my weaknesses or areas I needed to work on, I became defensive, which made it much harder for me to improve. I realize now that I was just getting in my own way. Just like the emperor in the story, I only wanted to hear what I wanted to believe, and I had been missing out on a lot of important information.
What changed? Why was I ready now? Like Joyce, I finally became comfortable with my own success. I was working in job that I really enjoyed, my dream job actually. I was playing to my strengths, and I was producing great results. I am now able to validate myself – rather than always looking to others for validation. I no longer see negative feedback as an assault on my character. One key strategy that works for me is that I find ways to sort through the valuable data in negative feedback from the emotional reaction such feedback can elicit. I do this by giving myself time to respond: hear it on Monday, think it over, and meet again later in the week to debrief and clarify.
I still have a tendency to roll up my sleeves and get to work when assigned a new project. Now, I pat myself on the back when I know I have done an awesome job. When I finally let go of looking to other people for validation, I opened myself up to“more fully participate in the joy, zest and power of my accomplishments.” Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D and Suzanne Imes, Ph.D (The Empress Has No Clothes, page 9).
Guest Blogger Cherrie K. Fisher serves as the Vice President of the Society of Women Engineers - Dallas Section. She is a Technology Professional at AT&T with over 25 years of experience. You may contact her directly via LinkedIn at Cherrie Kimbrough Fisher. The postings on this site are her own and do not necessarily represent AT&T’s or SWE’s positions, strategies or opinions.