The Basic Principles of Asking for Feedback

In my previous posts, I shared reasons we resist seeking feedback and then pointed out why it helps you become a more effective leader. In this post we’ll discuss a few tips on “How”.

1.      Start with ‘safe’ and then go ‘higher-risk’ later: Instead of going straight to your boss, ask for feedback from a trusted member of your team. Work your way up to ‘higher-risk’ colleagues over time.

2.      Keep it Focused: Seek feedback on a particular, recently completed project or milestone. Consider time parameters, More on this below.

3.      Explain WHY you’re asking for feedback: It is always good to contextualize the request. Examples might include:

  •  Get better at your job
  • Become a more effective leader
  •  Become more productive
  • Help make your team more productive

4.      Don’t “spring” this on people—especially the first few times.

5.      Schedule a time to meet for feedback, whether in person or by phone: It gives people an opportunity to reflect before meeting with you.

Here’s a Step-by-Step Guide:

Recount a particular project you and your colleague worked on

  • Ask him/her to provide two or three things related to the project that you could have done better to improve the outcome
  • Listen carefully and probe for details
  •  Think of yourself in the third person – depersonalize yourself to make it easier to hear

Ask about two or three things that he/she felt went well with this project

  • This is a nice payoff after hearing the constructive feedback
  • Often people will provide these positives without you prompting them
  • As before, listen carefully for clues and probe for details

Thank them

  • Let them know this is new for you and your truly appreciate their thoughts

The whole exercise should take no more than 15 minutes, so give it a try this week and then let me know how it goes.