When I entered su-re.co, I was a fresh graduate. Unfamiliar with what the working world was like, I had a student mentality. Not per se a bad thing, but it took some time before I understood what feedback meant. Fabian here from the think-team, today I am going to share with you my relationship with feedback.
In my studies, I was quite used to doing things for myself. Feedback given by my teachers was directed to me. A grade for an assignment means something to me. Meanwhile, assignment in a workplace is not graded for me, but for the company. This may sound obvious, but it really was intuitive for fresh graduates who have never worked before.
When I started working, I realized that feedback is often given.... without sugarcoating. My instinctive reaction to receiving my first feedback was naïve. I always feel incompetent after. After every feedback round, I always seem to make a mistake. I really started questioning my abilities. I never discussed this with my team, but I used to be very frustrated with my performance.
Only last week, a major truth bomb was dropped by our Founder and CEO Tak. He said,
"Checking is not about confirming it’s good, it’s about finding a mistake."
That blew my mind a bit. I started scrolling back through all my experiences with feedback. It makes so much sense now.
In a working environment where we have to produce quality outputs, we need to improve improve improve until we see the end. Sometimes we don’t even see the end. I fully understand why I feel like I make a mistake every feedback round. Not because I am highly incompetent (hopefully at least), but because I need a different angle to see how this product, be it a proposal or a biogas digester, can be improved. Tak's goal when checking my work is to make sure that we fill those infinitesimal gaps and make it airtight. That there is no leakage in the biogas or that the proposal has no loopholes.
So it’s a long journey from being a student to an employee to fully understand how I should take in feedback. I think those who tie themselves with anything they do would probably experience something similar. For me, my main take aways are to (of course) not dramatically attach myself to my output and to understand that perfecting something is a process. Feedback is about finding the next correct step or an iteration/loop for improvement, rather than an "attack" or worse, a "pamper". Sort of reminds me of control systems -ish.
Another example that made me feel more comfortable with feedback was when I was practicing drawing. I sent a picture of my sketch to my sister for feedback and I was more than happy to know how I should improve. I no longer feel attacked. In fact, I asked her to spot my mistakes, because I am a newbie in drawing.
I'm opening up quite a bit in this blog in case some people may relate. So if you can relate to this post, I hope you feel more liberated after reading this. To my coworkers, please never hesitate to give me feedback as long as it is for the best of all us.
Thanks for reading and see you next week!