The Importance of Feedback
What do they really think about you as project manager?
Odds are very high that even though you are highly capable, PMP certified, nice and good looking there is an opportunity for you to improve as a project manager. A significant opportunity! But if you are not looking at your faults from the perspective of others your ability to seize this opportunity is diminished. In the book “Selling the Invisible” by Harry Beckwith he states:
"Even your best friends won’t tell you but they will talk behind your back”
I was conducting a leadership class for the PMI Atlanta chapter earlier this year and we were discussing the importance of getting feedback from your team and stakeholders on your performance as a project manager. Feedback can be a very painful, but as I heard the bestselling author Jack Canfield say “feedback is the breakfast of champions.” A participant in my Atlanta training class said she has periodically used Survey Monkey, (http://www.surveymonkey.com/) to have her team assess her performance as a leader and the results have been very valuable to her.
Recurring feedback works best
Additionally, as you request feedback more often you can see your progress (or lack thereof) in a particular area. It also allows you to address these issues with the group and communicate your commitment to get better. Seeking anonymous feedback increases trust and provides the opportunity for open dialogue where appropriate. People often rally behind a leader that acknowledges imperfection, especially when they see commitment to improve and they become more forgiving of transgressions. Every project milestone is an opportunity to seek feedback on your performance.
Be careful not to overreact to your survey results
People often take for granted the positive and emphasize the negative. Allow time for the survey results to sink in and give them perspective and context. This does not mean you discount the feedback they provided because their perspective of you is very real to them… true or untrue.
Where there is opportunity for improvement, brainstorm ways you can improve
Once you identify ways to improve then do the easiest/smallest improvements first. You will be surprised how small adjustments can make tremendous differences. This is a journey of improvement and too many people want it to be an instantaneous change. Make small improvements then survey again.
Honesty is the best policy
Honestly looking at yourself (warts and all) requires effort. It is easy to go through life as leader without truly assessing your performance from the perspective of others. But, if you are committed to personal growth and improvement, garnering honest feedback is a requirement.
Dr. James T. Brown PE PMP CSP
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