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Be empowered by Feedback

Women Supporting Women: Advice to women – Be empowered by Feedback
06 Oct 2017
Sally Boyle, international head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs, shares her advice to women on being empowered by feedback, as part of our Women Supporting Women blog series.
In my conversations with women inside and outside the firm, the topic of feedback certainly elicits different views – they either see value in it, dread it…or a bit of both! Love it or hate it, timely and constructive feedback is crucial to career growth – and as women we need to approach giving and receiving feedback in the right way.
I remember my first annual review conversation at Goldman Sachs. Coming from a law firm, where little feedback was given, I was not prepared for the rather tough experience of hearing about my strengths but more importantly, my weaknesses. I felt very defensive about the constructive feedback, justifying why I didn’t think that it was fair. My manager gently encouraged me to listen to the feedback and to address the areas for improvement. I realise now how significant that advice was – responding to constructive feedback over the years has aided my performance and potential.
At Goldman Sachs, we recognise that frequent, ongoing and specific feedback is a key ingredient to enabling our people to perform to their full potential. We have invested in new feedback practices, including the introduction of a tool that facilitates real-time feedback conversations. But what can we do as individuals to ensure that feedback empowers rather than deflates us?
Tip #1: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” – Proactively seek feedback
I find that if you ask someone on the spot for some feedback, say after a meeting or presentation, you can get a rather glib answer – “oh, it was fine.” I prefer to be proactive and ask a participant before the meeting or presentation if they can provide feedback after. This increases the likelihood of receiving useful, actionable feedback. Try engaging colleagues in advance of a meeting or presentation and let them know that you are interested in hearing their feedback . Tell them about a specific strength or development opportunity that you are looking to address so the feedback can be more focused. This has the added advantage of signalling to others that you own your development and that you value their opinion.
I remember when someone at Goldman Sachs first asked me to give feedback to them before a meeting –…

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