How can new leaders change their personal approach to negative feedback?
Honesty and frankness can be admirable traits, but in the wrong situations they lead to losses in credibility, not gains. This is critical for those employees who find themselves transitioning into a new position to understand. One part of being honest is accepting criticism in a way that leads to growth rather than discouragement.
In a piece for the Harvard Business Review, Herminia Ibarra looked at something she calls the "authenticity paradox." This refers to the way that people in leadership positions within a company try too hard to be "authentic" and end up suffering because of it. A key demonstration of this occurs when leaders have to deal with negative feedback and are unsure how to.
As Ibarra says, the problem here is that newly promoted managers mistake a negative behavior for something that is just a necessary part of who they are that can't be changed.
"Leaders often convince themselves that dysfunctional aspects of their 'natural' style are the inevitable price of being effective," she writes. "Because negative feedback given to leaders often centers on style rather than skills or expertise, it can feel like a threat to their identity—as if they're being asked to give up their 'secret sauce.'"
Instead of staying stuck in this frame of mind, employees can take a promotion as an opportunity to change and challenge themselves by altering their personal narrative and setting new restrictions in place to keep them trying new things. This gets them out of their comfort zone and constantly evolving how they work, rather than staying "stuck in the past."
From this perspective, HRIS software offers a means to put personal development in a grand perspective and show the ways in which individuals have changed once in new roles, for better or worse.