Appraisal review: Top tips on how to use feedback to improve your performance

January provides us with a great opportunity for reflecting on the previous year:

  • What went well?
  • What did we learn?
  • What will we do differently in 2014?

A key part to this process will be our appraisal review, which is likely to include feedback. The amount and type of feedback will depend on how active you have sought this and any formal processes and systems your organisation has for seeking and collating feedback, such as, 360 degree reviews.

Feedback is a key way to enhance and grow your capability. However, to do this, it is important to be able to embrace and deal effectively with any feedback received. Evidence suggest that top performers are more likely to seek out and make changes as a result of feedback.

Here are some tips which may help you to get the most out of feedback:

Embrace and appreciate all feedback whether it is positive or negative. Adopt the mindset that feedback is providing you with a great opportunity to grow and develop as a person. When you receive feedback you are getting a a new perspective into your blind spots, (things you didn't' know about yourself) and consequently your self awareness is enhanced, which is key to personal and growth and development.

Without feedback you wouldn't have this information  and effectively would be operating with only half the information - which would be like trying to fly a plane with half the pages missing from the flight manual. Once you have this feedback you are in control and you can now make informed choices about how you are going to act upon it to improve your performance.

Genuinely, thank the person who is giving you the feedback, they have taken the time and effort to give you this information and must be appreciated for this. How many times have you had the opportunity to provide feedback and how many times did you follow through and give the feedback? I suspect, like many of us, you didn't take as many opportunities as you would have liked, and this number was probably reduced even further, if the feedback was going to be corrective. So, say thank you and acknowledge their time and effort.

Understand exactly what is being said in the feedback, for example if someone says - Well done, that was a great presentation - ask them specifically what was great? They may say things such as, your eye contact was good, the slides were clear and engaging. This information will allow you to identify/confirm your strengths and build on these. Likewise, if it is developmental feedback, for example, I thought you were negative in that meeting - again ask for the specific detail, for instance they might respond with - you were staring out of the window and I felt your tone of voice when asking questions was aggressive. As you can see, this information is far more informative. You now have some meaningful data to analyse from a performance perspective, rather than a broad generalised statement.

Don't take the feedback personally and become defensive, it  is not about you as a person, but about your performance . Consider, elite sports men and women, how they surround themselves with experts such as, dieticians, psychologists and coaches, who can provide them with detailed feedback. This allows them to analyse each performance in depth and identify areas for improvement - no matter how small.

Look to build your self confidence, there is a strong correlation between  those who are able to handle negative feedback and levels of self confidence, see this HBR blog -

Take action, having reflected on and analysed the feedback it is important, if you want to improve, to take some positive action and make real and lasting changes to your performance .

I hope you have found this blog useful and if you would like to share your comments or feedback please do so 


Beverley Lyn's picture

Beverley Lyn specialises in people development, designing competency frameworks, TNA, coaching and mentoring. Developing learning solutions to help people, at all levels, reach their potential. Combining strong technical and industry knowledge to deliver solutions which meet the client's needs

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