It’s not just for speaking

At  “The Corner Office” in today’s New York Times, Deborah Farrington, a founder and general partner at StarVest Partners, a venture capital firm in New York, talks about the importance of feedback.

Q. What else?

A. I had a terrific boss at Merrill Lynch who taught me that the most important conversation you can have with anybody who works for you is the performance review. Because people, especially those who are goal-oriented and very high-achieving, want feedback. They need that. And my boss made me feel that nothing was more important than this conversation. When you’re young, you know you can improve; you want to improve. You need feedback, and you need constructive feedback.

So when I coach and rate C.E.O.’s today — if I’m on a board, if I’m hiring them or giving them feedback — I’m always looking to see if they understood what they’ve done well. Do they understand what they didn’t do well? Are they listening to my feedback? Can they accept it? How do they then modify their behavior?

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