Ask for Feedback

“Did I miss anything?” “How can I support you?” “What worked?” “What didn’t work?” “What can I do differently next time to help you in this effort?”

There are so many ways to seek feedback on your own performance—especially from your people.

The frequency with which a leader asks for feedback is an important measure…and all too often an area for improvement identified in leadership 360s and other performance assessments. Specifically, the feedback should be along the lines of, “Am I helping you do your job better, or am I getting in your way?”

People tend to avoid feedback because they often associate the word with negative or corrective information. Therefore, it’s understandable that many leaders don’t explicitly ask for it. In my experience coaching high performers who demonstrate a range of leadership capabilities, seeking feedback is one area they acknowledge they need to address.

Interestingly, leaders who recognize this need are not defensive or averse to criticism. They often cite time as a factor. But, it seems to me it’s less an issue of time and more about behavior they need to practice and build into their management toolkit. Here are a few straightforward steps to take to invite some response to how you’re doing in any given circumstance:

  1. Welcome Criticism
    Feedback can provide valuable information about you. Let your people know that you value constructive feedback that  can help you grow and develop. You won’t appear to be insecure or unsure of yourself. Quite the contrary.
  2. Be Specific
    Frame your request to solicit information that can help you learn about a process, offer insight on how a team is performing, provide a window on the person’s assessment of their own growth and development. Add these to the suggestions above: “What have you learned from this experience?” “What was unexpected about the process?” “What was your most valuable take-away?” “How will you use it?”
  3. Be Timely
    Integrate requests for feedback into the normal rhythm of your communications. Begin to make it a habit as you summarize or move to next steps before ending an exchange.
  4. Seek feedback from All Quarters
    Reach out to peers as well as reports. And don’t forget the boss.
  5. Recognize the Value of Modeling Seeking Feedback
    Every time you ask for feedback, you are demonstrating its value to you and to the business as well as to the person you’ve solicited it from. This should impact the way they behave with their own people and their peers.

How often do you ask for feedback? How does it feel? In what ways has it helped you?

If you found this post helpful, check out “About the Book” on this blog, and order yourself a copy of “What could happen if you do nothing?” A manager’s handbook for coaching conversations.