On Monday, the 12th of May, 85 Broads Melbourne held their final workshop for the ‘Aspire to Lead’ Women’s Leadership series and the last event for the semester. Graduate recruiter and Campus and Relationship Manager at PwC, Stephanie Hough introduced us to Penny Cooper, the Director of International Assignment Services and a part of the PwC team for 15 years.
Stephanie set the stage with a quick recap of the previous events, quizzing the audience on their opinions on the leadership gap between males and females and also asking thought provoking questions about gender perception and the idea of unconscious bias in the workplace.
Stephanie continued to highlight the benefits and barriers of receiving and giving feedback. One such barrier to receiving feedback is having a fixed mindset and the conflict between need to grow and develop and the need to be accepted as you are. We need to think of feedback as a gift rather than criticism and to not take it personally.
Feedback helps the recipient identify strengths and develop areas that need improvement and focus. To do so we must recognise that we are imperfect and must not be defensive or unwilling to change.
Just as it can be hard to receive feedback, it can also be difficult for someone to give feedback for fear of upsetting the receiver and ruining the relationship. This can lead to a lack of clarity on what is being shared.
Also discussed were the differences between obtaining campus and workplace feedback. As we are all aware, on-campus feedback is direct and frequent, they often come in the form of grades to denote performance. Workplace feedback, however, is less objective, less frequent and less direct, often leaving things subject to interpretation.
Feedback is given in the workplace across three different levels, the internal, external and organisational dimensions. The internal level is where we have the least control, at the core being personality and branching into race, gender, age and so on. At the external level, we gain a little more control over the organisational dimension.
Later, Stephanie introduces members to the AWARE framework. A process recommended for obtaining feedback that involves five important steps:
1. Ask for feedback – e.g. ‘I’m committed to improving my performance, and I value your opinion. I’d like to ask you to share your candid feedback throughout the project so I can continue to learn and grow.’
2. Watch your emotions – e.g. ‘I’m surprised to hear that. I’d like to take some time to think about what you’ve said. Can we take a quick break before moving on?’
3. Ask questions to clarify – e.g. ‘I appreciate the feedback. Can you share an example of when this happened to help me understand why you feel this way?’
4. Reach out for different perspectives – e.g. ‘I received feedback that I need help sorting through. I trust you and would like to share what I heard. Have you seen this behaviour too?’
5. Engage your potential – e.g. ‘Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. My next steps are (outline action items). Can we set up time in a couple of weeks to check in on my progress?’
Throughout the event, members were called upon to discuss their feedback experiences and many interesting responses were received.
The event moved on to a feedback discussion focused on analysing a video of a simulated feedback session between an employee and her manager. Members were given the opportunity to discuss in groups of three to four, how both parties of the session could have altered the way they interacted to make it a more beneficial and pleasant situation for both the giver and receiver of feedback.
The event wrapped up with a video montage of female PwC employees in leadership positions discussing the value of receiving good feedback and providing insight into the challenges women face in the workplace.
A big thank you goes out to all our members who attended the workshop series and contributed to the discussions. It has been a rewarding journey and we hope it has proved to be an inspiring experience for you all.
We would like to wish everyone good luck with their exams and we look forward to seeing you all again in Semester Two.
85 Broads Melbourne