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Management Feedback is at the heart of these guides to self-improvement

To become an overnight success, blogger James Clear says you need four behaviour multipliers. Those four behaviours multiply your ability to act in the right way consistently:

  1. Rapid feedback: You want regular, immediate feedback that helps you change your typical behaviour. He uses slouching as an example. Normally, the only feedback you would get is if someone tells you that you are slouching, if you have some sort of notification that asks you to check yourself at that instant or if you notice yourself in the mirror. But he cites one individual who stood in an upright position with good posture and placed a piece of tape across his shoulder. When he slouched, the tape pulled on his shirt enough to make him realize he was not fully upright. “If you’re not aware of your habits, how can you expect to change them? This is why feedback is so important. Faster feedback leads to faster results,” Mr. Clear writes.
  2. Simplify: Eliminate things that get in the way of your productivity. Make sure you are focusing on the most important actions and avoiding the least important.
  3. Environment: Work in an environment and with people nudging you toward the right actions. “The world around us shapes our behaviour,” he stresses.
  4. Ability: Leverage those skills in which you can be a standout. You’re more likely to be successful if those skills are appropriate to your work than if the skills needed for work are not your strengths.

Another blogger, Darius Foroux, includes feedback in his list of five ways to accelerate your learning curve: Get feedback from those who have succeeded at what you’re trying to do. His other four:

  1. Use best practices: Don’t reinvent the wheel. This is particularly important at the start of tackling a new skill. Others have figured out strategies that work. Apply their findings rather than trying to figure out a better way from scratch. Otherwise you’re likely to run into the proverbial ditch or worse, quit, which often happens when things aren’t going well. “Once you master the basics, you can go out and do your own thing,” he says.
  2. Measure progress every week: This is feedback of a sort – checking how you are doing each week and evaluating how to improve. A weekly journal can help.
  3. Don’t quit: He says this is so obvious it often gets left out of self-improvement advice. “We hit learning plateaus, and all of a sudden, we don’t get better. But the problem is that time does not stop, only our progress does, and that’s very frustrating,” he notes, leading us to abandon the quest. Don’t!
  4. Work harder: And by that he means work smart. It’s not how many hours you put in but how hard and how effectively you work in the times you are active.

Let’s look at two more ways to improve:

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  1. Study your successes: Conduct after-action reviews of your own work to set benchmarks and identify best practices for future work, academics Laura Morgan Roberts, Emily D. Heaphy and Brianna Barker Caza recommend in Harvard Business Review. The Toronto Raptors looked at tapes of their games to see how to improve. So should you, even if they are figurative tapes. Also, notice positive feedback you receive and ask questions to learn how you can be your best self.
  2. Commit to enacting advice: Again on the feedback front, leadership coach Dan Rockwell suggests asking for advice and indicating up front that you’ll enact it. A sample: “I’d like to get better at holding people accountable. What do you suggest I do? Before you answer, I want you to know that I’ll do whatever you say for a week.”

That’s 10 ideas – with feedback at the core – for improving today.

Quick hits

  • Amazon head honcho Jeff Bezos says “people who are right a lot listen a lot, and they change their mind a lot. People who are right a lot change their mind without a lot of new data. They wake up and reanalyze things and change their mind. If you don’t change your mind frequently, you’re going to be wrong a lot.”
  • Productivity expert David Allen says recent research indicates the number of things you can mentally prioritize, manage, retain and recall is a mere four. So take notes and keep lists rather than treating your head as an office.
  • Schedule “distress breaks” in your day – five minutes every hour for some deep breathing, stretching or meditating, advises performance coach Gloria Mitchell.
  • Entrepreneur Seth Godin says a few words are what we pick up in a billboard or ad. Apply the same logic to your next memo or announcement: Figure out the 10 words that matter most and frame everything around them. If you’ve written a 1,000-word report, go through it and pick out the 10 that really matter.
  • Try this question when being interviewed for a job: “How do you practise teamwork in this company?” Freelance writer Valerie Sizelove says the response will indicate how valuable teamwork is in that organization and perhaps provide an inkling of how employees are treated.

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