Feedback Series 3 – How To Receive Feedback
by Valerie W. Franco
There are several ways to request feedback. The first is simply in conversation. However, if we simply say, “do you have any feedback for me?”, often the answer is “no, everything is fine”. The question is a bit too broad. Try asking something like “what are two things I can do differently that would make your job easier?” Or we can ask about a specific situation such as “what is the main point you took away from my presentation?”. Then ask follow-up questions to go deeper. It also helps to have a conversation that lets people know you will be asking for their feedback and why you find it valuable.
A more structured way to obtain feedback is through a 360-degree assessment. In this scenario, subordinates, peers, and superiors are provided a specific set of questions about your performance and asked to provide ratings. This sort of information is less subjective and provides a broader data set. It is important to work with a coach to digest 360 feedback, recognize trends and determine where you want to focus improvement efforts.
Before we ask anyone to provide feedback to us, we must make sure we are ready to receive it. This may sound obvious, but I’ve noticed sometimes leaders ask for feedback, and when they hear it, they immediately start explaining and defending themselves. When this happens in the presence of the people who provided it, rest assured that’s the last time they will provide open feedback. Yes, leaders can ask clarifying questions to be sure we understand, but whatever the perception of the giver, we must be willing to receive it. Trying to argue the case is counterproductive.
Providing feedback, especially to someone in a higher position, requires courage on the part of the giver. The best way to think of feedback overall is like a GIFT – to be given with compassion and received with gratitude. If your reason for requesting feedback is anything other than growth and learning, then you may not be ready.