The Art of Feedback

Grant Caselton Foresight, Leadership, Management Leave a Comment

As a professional who has admittedly achieved success by being personal, passionate, and proactive, it is no surprise that Raymond Ferrell, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Dex Media, has developed his own ideologies about how to give and receive work-performance feedback.

Ferrell followed his passion for the law early on, and every professional move he has made since graduating from Columbia Law School has been a proactive step toward becoming a general counsel. He began his legal career working for a private law firm in New York City, where he practiced corporate law and gained exposure in security transactions. From there, Ferrell spent time with various law firms focusing on securities law until he was exposed to technology law in the late-1990s and began learning the principles of supporting technology transactions, such as intellectual property and digital issues related to the internet.

With a focus on technology law, Ferrell specialized in drafting software license and website development agreements for firms, including several technological start-up businesses. He was eventually recruited to work for American Express and made the move in-house to serve as the lawyer for the AMEX website, as well as the companies in which they were investing.

Ferrell joined Dex Media in 2013 as the Vice President, Associate General Counsel for Commercial Operations, a role in which he was able to become involved in issues he had not touched on before, such as human resources and real estate. He was named the permanent general counsel this past January.

With every role Ferrell has held, he has operated proactively, knowing that an effective general counsel supports a business by not only identifying potential issues, but also providing viable solutions. He has also learned one of the best ways to be an effective business partner is to develop personal relationships with your business partners early on.

While navigating his professional career according to his three principles of passion, proactivity, and personal relationships, Ferrell has also learned a thing or two about how to effectively give and receive feedback related to your work performance. When Forefront recently spoke with Ferrell, he shared these ideas with us.

Feedback should be thought of in two ways: First, and most important, is the personal feedback you give yourself. 

“You have to be able to self-evaluate and become self-aware of how you are perceived by others and how effective or ineffective you are actually being,” he said. “You need to understand your strengths and weaknesses and you need to accentuate your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Self-feedback, analysis, and awareness are ways to grow.” 

Secondly, and also extremely important to Ferrell, is the feedback you obtain from others—whether formally or informally. 

“Sometimes, what you think about yourself is not always what other people perceive,” he explained. “You can’t always trust your self evaluation—you need to get feedback from individuals who are seeking counsel from you on a regular basis.”

He recommends you ask what you and your team is doing that works well for your business partners, as well as the business’ objectives? What are some things you can do better? And you should ask these questions in both formal and informal settings on a regular basis. 

Another component to obtaining feedback is developing a mentor-mentee relationship with business partners and senior business leaders who can provide feedback on how best to navigate a particular profession or organization. 

“Your mentor doesn’t have to be in a particular job that you are, or in an organization that you’re in,” Ferrell said. “It’s important to get feedback from your business partners and your mentors, as well.” 

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