I was an awkward kid growing up. My emotions ran easily and, to be honest to myself, my attempts to do better at school made me a bit of an ass. I hated PE or basically any sort of physical activities growing up due to terrible coordination, so I ended up liking very few sports. What does a bad workman do? Yep – I blamed the tools.
The same happened with artistic endeavors too. I brought in acrylics and eventually my own graphics tablet rather than using the school supplies. I failed basic cycle proficiency too because I wanted to use a brand new bike I hadn’t gotten used to yet, because I thought it would make me better.
In areas I failed short I continually used tools and tech to make me, at least, feel and perform better. It was a crutch. In essence, my ego and desire to perform well meant that I never took the time to improve personally and receive necessary feedback. My hotheadedness meant I was never open for that to happen.
What have I learned?
As a mentee and mentor, the best attributes you can have is humility, openness to feedback, and a willingness to learn new things. It’s so important to me as an employer and I actively search for candidates with those attributes. As a candidate, I want to know that you can be a confident member of my team, but ultimately be able to work well with others and take feedback constructively.
As well as taking feedback well, I’ve learned that giving feedback is a skill in itself. Sometimes, the recipient is right to be offended by some feedback – where the reviewer may be overly harsh or not consider situations. Personally, I like to:
- Ensure I’m not making assumptions. Rather than something being wrong, ask why something has been done this way and suggest – rather than enforce. If enforcement is required, then be clear as to why this course of action is necessary.
- I love Manager Tools’ feedback process, and it’s made me better at giving and receiving it.
- The closer to 1:1 feedback in-person you can give, the better. The first time I did a code review, it was with a team member over email who had no idea it was coming (I had been requested to do it by a manager). With emails, tone is obviously missed, so always find a way to ensure you’re communicating well. I love Zoom calls when remote, as folks can see and hear me clearly while going over things on screen. When email or text is the only option, I use emojis everywhere!
- Clearly say “I don’t know!”, or let folks know your weaknesses. As a boss, I’m always trying to remind the team that it’s perfectly fine to not have the answer, not know something. Ultimately, I want to know what you’re not confident in so I can help out – or direct you to who can.