In a recent Thought Exchange, Lynee Miller wrote about how listening to your emotions can improve self-awareness. She went on to offer several useful tips for generating more self-awareness to help you learn every day, and, as I read along the article triggered a memory from one of my previous jobs.
Once a year, my boss, peers and subordinates were all asked to review each other’s performance over the past 12 months. As you can imagine, the number of “reviews” each person was asked to do regarding their colleagues became very fatiguing. It also perpetuated a recency bias, which is a person’s predilection to remember recent events versus work accomplished several months earlier. While peer and leader feedback can be a critical learning tool, I recognized that we weren’t always getting the full scope of feedback necessary for growth and reflection. So I decided to take a different tack to become more self-aware of my own strengths and shortcomings.
I began to ask my boss and/or trusted colleagues for feedback immediately after giving a presentation, half-way through a project, or upon project completion. I ended up getting much more relevant, actionable feedback at these times, when my performance was fresh in their minds. And all it required was preparing two core questions:
- What should I start doing?
- What should I stop doing?
If you ask these questions once a week regarding just one task or project that you are involved with, you will get current, valuable feedback and be able to make 52 small improvements instead of trying to make one big change once a year.
I still participated in the annual review cycle at that company, but nothing that I learned from those appraisals ever came as a surprise. I had taken initiative to become more self-aware on my own timetable, and it made a world of difference. Learning a little bit about yourself each day or week will help you form a habit of self-reflection and allow you to use other’s viewpoints to help yourself.