The truth can be a tough pill to swallow. But ignoring the truth, in many cases, can make things a lot worse.
And it is for that reason that Clare Scherrer, a partner at Goldman Sachs, advises wannabe Wall Streeters to accept honest feedback, even if it is sounds harsh.
“The most important lesson I have learned in my career is to always solicit direct and honest feedback,” Scherrer said in a recent question-and-answer session with Goldman Sachs’ podcast, “Exchanges at Goldman Sachs.”
Scherrer, who is global cohead of industrials in Goldman Sachs’ investment-banking division, got her start at the firm as a summer associate in 1995, and she has since risen through the ranks. So she knows what it takes to get ahead in financial services. She says being self-aware about what you’re good at and what you need to work on is crucial.
“We all have our strengths and weaknesses and we all have our blind spots to our self-awareness,” she said. “I think it’s very important to solicit regular and candid feedback, and when doing so, one has to be a good listener.”
Scherrer warns young people to avoid being overly sensitive to constructive criticism. She said:
“It’s very easy to get defensive and say why the person who’s giving you that feedback might be mistaken when, in fact, what you should do is not talk, and listen, and take it onboard. Related to that, however, is that you should be resilient. So when you get constructive feedback, you shouldn’t let that get you down – you should actually celebrate that someone cared enough about you to give you some things that you could work.”
Scherrer said that female employees in particular might have to work harder to get that constructive criticism out of their managers.
“Because sometimes, not always, but sometimes a man can be a little bit hesitant to give harsh or critical feedback to a woman when, in fact, that’s exactly what you need if you’re trying to shore up your weaknesses and play to your strengths,” she concluded.