- Fiona Grignard
The best way to ask for feedback at work and grow from it
Asking for feedback, in all areas of your life but especially in the workplace, is a really helpful practice that will help you grow enormously.
It's uncomfortable at first. Most of the time we'd rather avoid it. But if you know how to ask and receive both positive and negative feedback, I promise you, you will start making incredible progress.
First thing first, I'm talking about asking for feedback, and not just receiving feedback. So many of us just wait for others to give them feedback, and in many cases, this may never happen, or too rarely.
But without regular feedback we might go straight to the wall and it is also harder to correct the course of actions.
Asking for feedback proactively is really beneficial for many reasons.
You can be in better control of how and when you receive the feedback, you can structure the questions ahead of time which means you can also better prepare yourself for it. It shows you are mature, responsible, and ready to work on yourself which sets great foundations.
Also, most people will wait to provide feedback when there's a problem. By asking proactively you can tackle the potential development areas before they actually become real problems.
When to ask for feedback?
You can ask for feedback at any time but there are some moments that are more propitious to it, such as at the midpoint of an important project and after its completion.
As a general rule, try and avoid the moment when everyone is in a rush or burried under a crazy workload, like just before an important deadline.
The easiest is to ask people when is the best time for them.
Who to ask for feedback?
When you think about feedback, the #1 person you think about is often your manager.
But you can get valuable insights from other people too, and that will give you a more general overview.
Besides your manager(s), consider asking :
> your closest colleagues, those with whom you work most often.
> your team members and everyone that reports to you. That's an absolute must if you are a manager!
> people you have worked with on specific projects.
How to ask for feedback?
>> Be honest
You're nervous about asking for feedback? It's totally understandable. You can be 100% open about it and share that you are not used to asking for feedback and that you are a little nervous.
>> Clear questions
Define clear and precise questions ahead of time. This will help the other person to focus on that specific aspect. Without that canvas, your interlocutor can feel lost and overwhelmed and miss some important aspects.
>> Ask for both positive and negative feedback
Asking and receiving feedback is not about getting slapped on the hand because you do a terrible job. It is a time of reflection. It is a constructive conversation that can help both parties to move forward and grow.
When asking for feedback, make sure to ask for positive feedback as well.
It's not about what you don't do well but how you can do better.
Don't ask too many questions. Keep it sweet and short so it doesn't take too much time. You can only focus on one or 2 development points at a time anyway.
For some questions, it might be easier to offer a scale from "0 to 5" or from "Insufficient to Excellent" for instance.
Ask ahead of time, which format is easiest for the other person to give you feedback. Would they rather talk about it in person over coffee, send an email, reply to a questionnaire, send a voice note...?
Keep in mind that by giving you feedback they are doing you a favor (yes, even if it's your manager and it is part of his role). You will want to make it as easy and comfortable for them as possible and adapt to their needs.
I recommend you to prepare a self-evaluation listing what you believe you do well and what you want to work on and improve. This will help show that you are aware of it and are consciously working on it.
It will also help to deal with what the person might be saying because you are already aware of it.
Type of questions to ask
Questions about yourself
What do you think are my biggest strengths at work?
What do you think are my main development areas?
What skills could I work on to be a better colleague/manager/etc?
Question about your job
What do you most appreciate about the way I do my job / this project?
What do I do well, and how could I do it even better?
What could I improve to have a better impact?
What were the highlights of this presentation I gave?
Question about the relationship / working dynamic with the person
What could I do to work better together?
Is there something I could do to make your life easier when we work together?
What do you think of our interactions together? How could I improve my part?
How to deal with negative feedback?
>> Thank you
I know, I know. Receiving negative feedback is no fun!
But we are not in a world where we give feedback easily so whether you get positive or negative comments you should always thank the person.
Most people feel uncomfortable delivering negative feedback. That's why so few actually do it, even when it is necessary!
You want to make sure the person giving the feedback feels they are being listened to and can speak freely. Otherwise, they might not want to give you feedback anymore in the future and that will be your loss.
A feedback session is effective only if it is honest and safe.
Remember, feedback is supposed to help you grow. It really is a gift for YOU.
This is not a time to prove others wrong. You asked for feedback so accept it. Don't get into an argument to defend yourself.
If you don't agree, ask for more information. Put yourself in the listener's position, you'll learn more that way and you might be surprised of what you hear.
"I want to understand your opinion and I want to grow from this situation, even if I don't necessarily agree. Can you tell me more? Can you give me some practical examples or what you would expect instead, what would success look like to you…"?
Once you receive that negative feedback, it's important to accept the potential emotions that arise. Don't make it worse by pretending they don't exist, or on the opposite, by feeding them with a mental stories on how you're a poor victim, everyone is against you and it's always the same, or how you thought that colleague was a friend and she is just a traitor.
Acknowledge what your emotions are trying to tell you.
You don't need to say anything right away. You can ask for time to process all the information you just received, and offer to talk further in a few days. When you receive negative feedback, chances are you will go into fight or flight mode. It is your survival mechanism. And that means that your brain is not able to come up with anything constructive. That's ok.
You will need a little more time to adjust and make sense of it all, once you quiet down.
Then, you can implement the feedback into actions - is there anything you will want to change or improve based on that?
Just as most people don't like to give negative feedback, most people also don't really know how to do so appropriately. And they will likely do it in a clumsy or even hurtful manner.
If the person gives you feedback in a hurtful way, you can let them know once you calmed down how you'd rather receive feedback in the future.
Asking for feedback is an amazing way to grow. Don't try to look for approval or to reboost your ego afterwards by talking negatively about the person who just gave you feedback. You're here to grow and to be the best person you can.
How to give feedback?
Are you the person giving feedback? I recommend you to check the different feedback models that are available. Here are two examples:
>> Situation, Behavior, Impact (SBI)
Start with a specific situation (during the meeting this morning...);
Define the behavior you want to talk about (you mentioned this...) ;
Describe how their behaviors impacted you or others (I felt like... It made me fear that...)
And then offer the alternative behavior you would like to see in the future.
>> The Feedback Sandwich
Start with positive feedback;
Share constructive feedback (e.g. with the SBI method above);
Finish by being cheerful and building the other person's trust and confidence that the outcome can be reached.
This is especially important if you know that the person you will give your feedback to is very sensitive and prone to focus on the negative only.
Finally, as feedback giver, don't hesitate to spontaneously share your positive opinion on specific things. And especially if you start noticing an improvement!
A "great presentation" or "nice job on the xyz" is so appreciated and so rare, it will probably boost the person's energy!
Asking for feedback and receiving it can be hard, yet I am convinced this is one of the fastest way to grow!
This is why I am including it in the Blooming Leader Mastermind!
To learn more, click here.
If you need additional help and support, come chat with me!
And don't forget... luck is an attitude!
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