26 March 2019

Why all feedback is a learning opportunity

Maybe your supervisor thought you did a great job on your latest project – or maybe you missed the mark.

In both situations, it’s wise to politely ask for feedback and use it as a learning opportunity. Here’s how to learn from all types of feedback – from positive to negative.

Positive feedback

When you receive praise for a job well done, you deserve to be proud of yourself. But don’t just leave it at that – ask your manager what the strongest and weakest aspects were so you can continue to grow. For example, let’s say you had to write a report about a new market segment and you spent weeks researching and writing it. If your supervisor tells you that your research was comprehensive and detailed, you can rest assured that research is one of your stronger points. However, if he or she informs you that your presentation of the facts could have been clearer, ask him or her how you can improve. Perhaps you need to brush up on your writing skills, or maybe it’s helpful to include charts and graphs to give a visual interpretation of statistics. Then use that information as a takeaway to do an even better job next time.

Negative feedback

It’s never nice to hear that your work isn’t up to par – but it can help to realize that criticism can be a powerful learning tool. Instead of becoming defensive and explaining why you did things a certain way, engage in a meaningful dialogue with your supervisor, as Nicole Lindsay advises in her article “Taking Constructive Criticism Like a Champ” for The Muse. Listen closely to what he or she has to say, and ask questions if you don’t understand. 

For example, let’s say you had to lead a team that was creating a new marketing campaign and you failed to produce all of the deliverables on time. Your manager is likely to tell you that you need to work on your leadership and communication skills while learning how to assign people to tasks that play to their strengths. In addition, you should probably learn how to break a project down into smaller steps so you can be sure to complete the work on time.

Getting feedback is an inevitable part of every job – and it’s also a great way to learn. Just think about it: Many people take courses or go back to school in order to learn new skills or take their abilities to the next level. However, there’s nothing like getting practical, on-the-job training. So when you recognize the educational aspect of constructive criticism, you can leverage it to your advantage and keep moving your career forward.