When I began my employment with Integris, I completed the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) 360. To be honest, while I was interested in it from an educational and experiential standpoint, I wasn’t all that concerned with the results. Since I wasn’t in a leadership role, I didn’t think it would have as much value for me as it did for those people who had direct reports and departments or agencies to run.
I also had a distinct lack of traditional observers that one expects for these types of assessments: I had one coworker I barely knew, no direct reports and two managers, one of whom is my father.
Who could I ask for feedback?
I ended up asking some people from my church, people from my last job, friends, and some other family members. Because I had spent years working with the youth at my church, I asked a few teenagers to give me feedback on my assessment. I also asked my senior pastor.
These were the people I expected to give me the best, most honest feedback. I was both right and wrong.
I took the assessment and my observer feedback to heart. And I had a lot of really nice and helpful feedback. I had several people talk about times when I went out of my way to make them more comfortable with the things they were doing. Truthfully, that’s not something I give a lot of thought to. Yes, I want people to be comfortable with their surroundings and situations but I don’t feel like it’s something I would go out of my way to make happen. So it was enlightening to have it brought up so specifically.
The behavior I think that stood out most to me was “seeks out challenging opportunities that test his/her own skills and abilities .” Since starting at Integris, I should use this behavior as my job description. This is the behavior that I am working on and the one I most need to improve on (based on my own analysis, it was nowhere near the bottom of my ranking). My job has been a constant stream of challenging myself to learn new things. So it’s nice that others recognize that part of me. And it’s also nice that I have something to concentrate on for improvement.
But not all feedback is helpful, or even accurate
One of my observers with whom I was very close (since I was in fact close to all of my observers) mentioned in a few of the open-ended questions a few things that were hurtful.
It took me a while to come to terms with the idea that I didn’t need to find out who that particular observer was. I know the assessments are confidential and the responses are anonymous. Even as someone who manages the assessments, I could not see who completed and who didn’t or who said what. In the end that didn’t matter. What mattered – what still matters – is that feedback is a gift even if you don’t agree with it. And the feedback of different people can contradict each other when they are seeing you in different roles.
It’s important to listen to feedback.
But it’s also important to recognize that not all feedback is productive.
Before taking this job I never gave that much thought to the fact that some feedback is inaccurate and non-productive. I took all feedback to heart; and what that usually meant was working long hours (sometimes up to 12 or 14 hours a day) with no thanks and the threat of being written up for any potential offense. What that meant for me in my prior positions was that I would never measure up and nothing was ever right.
Sometimes it’s better to let go
As much as some of the comments in my 360-report brought me down, it also taught me that sometimes feedback – even the most well intentioned advice – is something to let go. You’ll never make everyone happy. Trying is a sure recipe for heartache. It’s a tough lesson for someone who falls so high on the scale of conscientiousness. But it’s an important lesson nonetheless.
To be realistic, letting go isn’t easy for most people and our tendency is to remember the bad and forget the good, even when the good outnumbers the bad significantly.
I recently heard someone give the example of thinking of feedback like a shirt – you get it and wear it for a few days, see how it feels, if it’s uncomfortable and not the right fit then take it off and return it. This example speaks to me. I had a ton of awesome feedback, both positive and things for me to work on. But there were still these negative comments that I had to let go. So I did.