Business development
for professionals

Church mouse or BASE jumper?

Are you brave enough for communication skills appraisal and feedback?

What is the difference between doing a ‘BASE’ jump (broadly speaking, jumping off a cliff with a parachute) and receiving feedback about your communication skills from a colleague?
One is a nerve shredding, buttock clenching, terrifying experience. The other is the BASE jump.

I’m only partially joking - but are you brave enough to ask for regular honest and open appraisals from your colleagues about how skilfully you engage and interact at client or networking events. Are your shoulders broad enough for the feedback?

In short, how brave are you? Church mouse or BASE jumper?

A friend recently recounted a conversation he had had with the senior Partner of a professional services firm whilst discussing the qualities that go to make up Partner/Director candidates.

In passing he commented on one of his staff, a relatively junior Associate. ‘Of course, he won’t make it. Every time he goes to a business networking event, he gets drunk’.

Imagine being that Associate. Perhaps in your early thirties, you may not be aware that your career train has potentially hit the buffers. I wonder if that Associate has asked for or been given feedback as to the impact his behaviour is having?

Whilst some firms have robust appraisal and feedback programmes, many do not. This begs the question:
Do you really know how you are perceived by your colleagues?’ In the context of internal and external communications, have you ever asked this question?
‘Tell me honestly, what am I doing or not doing that I could improve upon to help build better relationships with clients, referrers, colleagues and peers?’

One of the key tenets of being able to build an effective personal professional brand is the ability to see your weaknesses as others see them. Personal brand building requires conscious and deliberate positioning to your chosen audience. It is critically important in the business development journey.

How can you know if you are injecting the appropriate messages to the relevant target groups if you do not have a handle on what you do well and where you are failing?

It takes a brave person to deliberately ask those difficult questions of colleagues and a great deal of inner steel to accept constructive responses and then act upon them. This is especially true of more senior members of leadership and management.

Companies and organisations other than professional services firms regularly seek feedback regarding their goods and services and take action accordingly. Some in professional services do likewise, but in my experience, not many.

Feedback, if done correctly, is the lifeblood of improvement. How well feedback is given, is a topic for another time, but it should be a catalyst for ongoing personal professional development and you should be inspired to request and receive it.

Now go and get that parachute.

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