To achieve Step 12, individuals will show that they actively seek external views in developing their plans, including constructive criticism.
In the previous steps, the focus has been on building plans based on an understanding of the goals, resources and skills available. This step develops this further by also looking at how to engage with external views and seek constructive criticism to improve these plans.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
The best plans are informed by a wide range of external views. This is a common theme between many of the other skills, including Listening, Speaking and Creativity.
Engaging with a range of external views can help us to:
For this reason, all organisations that create effective plans consult widely with team members, clients, customers, and other stakeholders to ensure that their plans are informed and challenged as widely as possible.
Constructive criticism is one part of gathering external views. It is about asking others to identify what might be wrong in your existing plans and to suggest ways of making improvements or addressing some of those shortcomings.
It is quite different to criticism because it is focused on making improvements more than just telling you what is wrong. Constructive criticism is normally defined by:
In some cases, you will have an open, trusting relationship with someone where giving and receiving constructive criticism is a normal part of how you work together. This is invaluable for your development and that of your plans.
However, in other cases, you will need to be proactive in encouraging others to feel they can share what they really think. You should not believe that generally encouraging comments are necessarily a true reflection of what the other person is thinking – they might just be being polite.
To encourage others to give constructive criticism, you need to first be explicit about the fact that you welcome it. For example:
You can then ask questions to encourage others to give constructive criticism:
This questioning will help the other individual to feel like they have permission to be honest and open with you in their feedback – and this sort of feedback will definitely be the most helpful.
External views can play an essential role at all different stages of putting together and implementing a plan. That includes when goals are being devised, analysis carried out, and action plans being written.
The crucial thing is to get external input early so that it can be built into your thinking rather than needing to change plans later on – or receiving feedback when it is too late to do anything with it.
If you can engage people early, then they can become your most engaged partners, because they will share a sense of ownership with you about the plan and the outcomes. That also means that they are much more likely to support you along the way to realise those plans.
In education, receiving feedback and constructive criticism from others is what helps us learn. Teachers, coaches and peers can share their valuable input on our work and help us see new perspectives. Sometimes we might create several drafts of work or complete something in stages; asking for feedback early on means that we have time to consider those views and make changes before we hand in the final version.
As well as receiving constructive criticism on our work, at school or college there are opportunities in person or in reports to receive feedback from teachers on our overall progress, not just in our studies. Sometimes it can be difficult to recognise this on our own or it might not be what you expected; however, these opportunities are an important way to celebrate what is going well and find out what areas can still be improved.
In all workplaces, plans and decisions are informed by the views of others (colleagues, clients, customers or the general public). Hearing different perspectives and having your ideas challenged improves your plans and ensures that a range of factors have been considered so that you can be confident in your final decision. Writers will have their drafts of their work read and checked by different people as they write, customers are asked to give feedback on versions of a new product being made, managers will share feedback with their staff to help them make progress. The key is to be open to feedback and constructive criticism, taking advantage of the opportunity to make positive changes.
Seeking input from others helps us grow and learn. We may come across situations where we are unsure about something or stuck but as soon as we share this with someone else, and hear a different perspective, the solution to the problem becomes much clearer. If we try to create plans on our own, it’s easy to get stuck for ideas or limit our options.
You have probably given constructive criticism yourself before and might find that your friends tend to go to you for advice on certain things because your expertise is helpful. Think about the people around you who you trust to be honest, and who can offer a different perspective, and not just asking someone who you know will agree with you.
It is also important to remember the importance of timing; there is nothing worse than asking for feedback when it’s too late to do anything about it – like checking what your friend thinks of your outfit when you’ve already left your house.
To best practise this step of Aiming High, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
To teach this step:
This step can be encouraged across learning, as it is a good habit for learners to seek out constructive criticism across many aspects of their work and personal development. This could be extended to reviewing one another’s work as peers and being able to give helpful, constructive feedback to one another.
This step is best assessed by observing whether learners can give and receive constructive criticism and actively seek external views when developing their ideas and plans.
This step is relevant to individuals who can help the team to succeed by making plans to achieve goals.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed through discussion and subsequent observation. For instance:
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed for by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: