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How to Receive Feedback: A.I.M. for Success

How to Receive Feedback: A.I.M. for Success

You’ve likely heard that the ability to receive feedback is key for long-term success. It’s true: Learning and growth dictate your progression at your firm. Feedback is critical to properly identifying where you need to learn and grow, both from formal reviews and informal feedback sessions with partners.

To be good at both receiving and integrating feedback, I recommend using what I call the AIM method, “Assess–Integrate–Move Forward.” Below is a breakdown of the AIM method.

Step #1: Assess.

The first step in turning feedback into progress is assessing the feedback to understand what it means and where you need to improve.

Understand what went wrong to generate the feedback.

  • How did my actions (or those of my team) negatively impact the project?
  • Which team members or partners were most negatively affected?
  • How did my actions affect relationships with partners or expectations of my team in the future?

Identify the root issue that created the problem.

  • What lack of skills or responsibilities would cause an issue like this?
  • Is this a trend? Can I think of instances in the past where this feedback would be valid?

Contextualize the issue.

  • Was it my responsibility to handle this issue, or could it be the responsibility of another team member?
  • Is the skill required to fix the issue an expectation at my current level or is it an expectation at a level above mine?

Based on your findings, you’ll understand the reason for the negative outcome, if the issue is isolated or recurring, whether you are solely accountable for the issue, and if the feedback indicates you are performing below expectations or just need more time to stretch to the next level in your career.

[Related: The Neuroscience Secrets For Positive Change That Sticks]

Step #2: Integrate.

The next step is to integrate the feedback with a goal of personal growth.

Depending on the opportunity, you’ll want to use some of the following techniques to hold yourself accountable to improving on a recurring basis.

  1. Keep a list of the skills you are working on to hold you accountable in the future.
  2. Set calendar reminders each week to remind you to measure your progress on those skills.
  3. Ask your manager for advice on improving and moving up.
  4. Tell a team member about what you are trying to improve or ask them to hold you accountable for improving.
  5. Explore classes at your firm and online if there are specific skills you need to obtain.
  6. Find a mentor at the firm, someone who is very strong at the skill, and ask him/her for advice on how to improve.

[Related: Is the “Disease to Please” Holding You Back?]

Step #3: Move forward.

After understanding the feedback and building a plan for improvement, the last step is to move forward. Moving forward means not spending more energy than necessary stressing about the feedback, especially now that you have a plan to address it.

To move forward, try to:

Feel gratitude toward the person who gave the feedback.

Even if the delivery of the feedback was flawed or they identified the wrong root cause, some feedback is better than no feedback. At a minimum, the feedback identifies a problem you can help the firm solve.

Forgive yourself for not being perfect.

Remember that your opportunities for growth do not define you, and you now have a plan to improve on your weaknesses.

Now that you know how to use feedback to your benefit, I encourage you to go out and AIM for success!

[Related: The Bad Feedback Myth]

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Elizabeth Miller is an Associate in Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. She serves on several corporate and non-profit boards across New York City, where she advocates for the empowerment of women and young professionals.


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