Signs that you are growing up...buying your first home, deciding that you like your friends better when they stop trying to set you up on dates, doing stuff because it's good for you (shredded wheat, sun block, anything green and leafy...OK, bad example). Earlier in my career, it was likely that when given feedback, my initial response was defensiveness (which leads to more feedback by the way, trust me) and devastation ("you mean you don't think I am perfect?"). I know a lot of people that still go out of their way to avoid feedback, either because they don't like confrontation or their feelings get hurt. For me initially, it was just hard to sit there and listen to it without fighting back. You know how Michael Jackson said he's a lover not a fighter? OK, first, ew. And second, I'm the other way around, or at least a solid part of each.
Anyway, you can get by at Microsoft without giving feedback (although giving feedback is a skill that's totally required if you want to become a manager), but you pretty much can't escape getting it. After some good coaching by peers and mentors (thanks Suzanne and Carrol), I've personally tackled the feedback thing. In fact, I have gotten to the point that I like it. It's not about people liking me (their choice really...and I know that not everyone does), it's about realizing how I am perceived, what could hold me back, how other people like to work, where to spend my time developing. So at this point, it's just fuel that I can use to be better at what I do.
I guess there are a couple reasons I am thinking about this right now. First, I just submitted my review. My job changed dramatically this year and it's really been the first time I've felt like I was in just the right job for my skills (again, I've had the luxury of a manager that realized my strengths and was flexible enough to work with me to turn it into a job). I've been recruiting for 11 years so it was time for something like this. And based on that, I think I may have had my best year ever. We've established a new staffing process that appears to work, tried new things, engaged with some awesome marketing and finance people and done a lot of evangelizing. If you would have told me a few years back that I would be mentioned in Fast Company, I probably would have been to scared to ask why (OK, not really, but I would have had no idea). So with that review writing process, there's a lot of introspection. I'm always having a self-critical dialog in my head (I know, Keith Harrell would tell me to stop, but it's not "mean Heather", it's "self-improvement Heather"---comes with a Kung Fu grip, not a pink corvette). So the review makes you think about documenting it.
Also, I got feedback from my presentation at the Kennedy Conference in Las Vegas. For every "good content; leading edge stuff", there was a "not realistic for the...bulk of companies". For every "best session", there was a "talks a bit fast". When I first read through the feedback, the constructive feedback stuck out more than the positive. The more I read it, the balance tilts toward the positive. First thought..."what is wrong with me?"...second thought, "I'm looking for the parts I can improve upon, silly". For me, I don't think it's really a self-esteem thing...I think it's that I truly want to get better (improving my public speaking skills was a personal and professional goal for me this year). So looking at the feedback, I'm kind of excited about the fact that I know what I need to do to get better. It's truly a gift to have that information (and thank you to anyone that attended that supplied feedback!).
Look who's all grown up and none too soon!
P.S.: for those out there that have given me "feedback" on my grammar (Jane doesn't like my use of the word "really") or spelling (yes, I spelled it "bored room" on purpose), that is not the kind of feedback I am referring to. I write like I speak and "kinda" and "anyhoo" happens. Oh yeah, so does "whee!".