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Survey Research Initiative
Using Feedback to Your advantage
We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve. - Bill Gates
At some point, all schools are bound to receive some negative feedback, whether it be focused on one's teaching or communication style, overall satisfaction with the school, teachers, or coworkers, or the school climate. This feedback may be difficult to grapple with, even if it was solicited and intended to be constructive.
Criticism, however, can be a powerful tool for change. All forms of feedback help us to improve, grow, and learn new things about ourselves. It is through feedback that we can transform our schools into more effective spaces for learning. It is critical to make good use of the feedback you are given, so that you can evolve in your own leadership and inspire an engaged team.
When approached with feedback of all types, consider doing the following:
- Listen well. Hear them out without interruption and repeat what you have learned for clarification. If you disagree with the feedback, withhold sharing this until the end in order to validate them and open further lines of communication. Remember that it is always best for the concern to come directly to you rather than to others.
- Respond carefully. Try to avoid sounding defensive and leave your ego aside. Accept all concerns as well as constructive criticism. If you are unsure about the validity of the feedback or what to do with it, ask for time to respond, and then make sure to get back to them in a timely fashion and with a game plan for improvement.
- Thank them. Let them know that you appreciate the fact that they took the time to give you feedback, and that they brought their concerns directly to you. Let them know that you appreciate this growth opportunity that they have given you.
- Seek more feedback. There is a good chance that others have opinions on the matter at hand, so it is a good idea to seek feedback from others and learn how widespread the issue is.
- Do something. Oftentimes the hardest part is making effective change with the information you have learned. Seek to identify, either alone or with the support of a broader network of individuals, a set of actions that can help you grow and can directly address the issue(s) at hand. Make sure to let the concerned party know about your action plan so as to validate their concerns.
(Adapted from: Smartblogs, Hoff, 2014, Leadership, Voice of the Educator)