How do you react when someone offers feedback about your work?

Dan Levy as David Rose on the TV show Schitt's Creek looks around nervously and says Yeah.

While receiving praise for your work can boost your morale, dealing with constructive feedback can be tricky.

What if you could use feedback mechanisms to your advantage?

Doing so can improve your career and empower you to succeed.

What are feedback mechanisms?

There are two types of feedback mechanisms: formal and informal. Use both to gain insight into your strengths and areas of opportunity.

Two people with laptops on a table are making notes on paper with pencils. Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

Formal feedback mechanisms

Informal feedback mechanisms

  • Mentorship and coaching

  • Conversations with colleagues

  • Group discussions

  • Self-assessment

Using the following steps, leverage both formal and informal feedback mechanisms to take charge of your professional growth.

1. Ask for feedback

Ask your supervisor or colleagues for feedback on what you're doing well and what you can improve.

Take notes! (You'll use them later to build your action plan).

Ask, "Am I on track?" and, "Where should I focus my attention?"

Follow up with questions like, "Where can I learn more about that?" or, "Who can give me some pointers?"

A woman in a police uniform asks,

Taking the initiative to ask for feedback shows your dedication to your professional development and the team's success. Pride yourself for having the courage to receive feedback gracefully.

2. Learn from your mistakes

View mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow. Overcoming challenges and setbacks gives you the strength to level up.

Star Trek Captain Christopher Pike says,

Examine what happened.

Ask yourself:

  1. What caused this to happen?

  2. What have I learned from this situation?

  3. What can I do differently next time?

Be kind to yourself.

Keep your thoughts positive. What advice would you give to a friend who made a similar mistake? Show yourself the same compassion you would give them.

3. Reflect on the feedback

Pause to reflect on what you've learned about yourself. Allow time for emotions to settle. Examine the information objectively and honestly.

A man holding a notebook sitting on a tree stump in a forest. Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Watch this short video on how to process negative feedback at work.

Write down your thoughts.

Brainstorm ways you can improve:

  1. Can you ask for more training?

  2. Is there a workshop you can take?

  3. Who can be a mentor or coach?

Change a negative into a positive!

Flip the narrative on your areas of opportunity by using affirmations to train your mind to create positive change. Try these affirmations at work or write your own:

  • I am focused and committed to producing quality work.

  • I am confident that I can overcome challenges with grace.

  • I learn and grow from stressful situations.

  • My ideas and contributions positively impact the team.

Envision yourself becoming proficient and competent. Imagine how it would feel to succeed.

4. Plan your career path

Having clearly defined goals can set you up for success.

Set S.M.A.R.T. goals that are:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Achievable

  • Realistic

  • Time-bound


Let's say your manager suggests you could more easily meet deadlines by managing your workflow. You might write a S.M.A.R.T. goal to improve your time management skills:

I will use a daily, weekly, and monthly planner to block out my schedule, tasks, and projects and review it daily for the next three months to ensure I'm on track.

A coffee cup sits on an open calendar that says, Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Get support from your supervisor to align your skills with the company's objectives. Ask for resources, training, coaching, or mentoring.

Take advantage of professional development opportunities, such as tuition reimbursement, sponsored training, or professional memberships, that your employer offers. Consider investing in continuing education.

Employees sit at a table with laptops looking at a monitor and sticky notes on the wall. Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

Track your progress using a calendar or project management tool. Schedule tasks to keep you on track, such as attending a course or workshop, practicing a skill, or spending time with a mentor.

Document your achievements and share them with key people like your supervisor. Recording your accomplishments will help you prepare for that next performance review!

A checklist on a clipboard with the word

Revisit your goals regularly (quarterly, bi-annually, annually). Be willing to course-correct if priorities change.

Update your plan as your skills improve and you identify new areas to focus on.


What can you put in your calendar to help you achieve a career goal? Select the best answer(s):

Take Action

A cartoon rocket takes off.

Ready to take your career to the next level?

Use feedback mechanisms to enhance your professional growth with these 4 steps:

  1. Ask for feedback

  2. Learn from your mistakes

  3. Reflect on the feedback

  4. Plan your career path

Once you've used these feedback mechanisms, keep up your career momentum by exploring these related topics:


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