Criticalness of Giving and Receiving Feedback

A successful entrepreneur recently told me one of the main things he tries to determine when interviewing potential employees is their capacity to give and receive feedback.

Everyone involved in his start-up, he said, must be comfortable offering constructive criticism in real-time to bosses and subordinates and taking constructive criticism (“taking” is different from acting on all criticism). Rapid iteration of the sort that drives new companies can only happen if feedback constantly flows throughout the office.

I totally agree. You can never spend too much energy honing your skills at giving and receiving feedback. It is the distinguishing factor between those with “good” people skills and “great” people skills. Good businesspeople, and great businesspeople.

3 comments on “Criticalness of Giving and Receiving Feedback
  • Totally agree.

    Also, generally watching out for people who can’t give & take constructive criticism in your social/ private life is v. important.

    Tip for people who may need to improve their skills in this area: start going to a drawing class. After a few 6 hr classes of having your efforts criticised in front of others, you learn how to handle it.

  • Ben, good thoughts. Especially with employees, I think their ability to give criticism is a testament to their ability to think critically, understand the greater problems, and find solutions.

  • Completely agree. I like to think of feedback as “career currency,” and I encourage my employees to do the same. People often seem to feel attacked by feedback, when in reality it’s one of the single most effective ways to improve (think John Wooden, or any sports coach, for that matter).

    I believe that the ability to gracefully receive feedback and subsequently change that behavior, is a key distinguishing factor for star performers.

    While feedback can be hard to hear at times, I like to think it shows that person cares about my development – and that’s a good thing. I don’t want to be the person walking around with proverbial food in my teeth all day, with no one courageous or caring enough to point it out.

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