How to Practice Feedback-Seeking and Take Your Career to the Next Level
There is too much emphasis on giving feedback and too little on seeking it.
Create a culture where feedback-seeking is expected, habitual, and honored.
3 principles for feedback-seeking:
#1. Establish objectives before seeking feedback.
- My intent is to help people bring their best/whole selves to work.
- My aim is to improve the way I connect with colleagues.
- I’m working to run meetings that have a feeling of positive momentum.
- I’m striving to energize people.
- My goal is to offer constructive dissent with clarity, openness, and optimism.
Define and declare what you’re trying to accomplish before seeking feedback.
#2. Define why your objectives matter.
What’s important about helping people bring their best/whole selves to work? You’re ready to invite feedback from others after completing steps one and two.
#3. Use specific curiosity to guide feedback-seeking.
Ask, “What am I doing that helps or hinders people from bringing their best selves to work?
Listen for behaviors. For example, You help people bring their best selves to work when you listen to their stories. You hinder people from bringing their whole selves to work when you focus on improving their weaknesses.
Bonus: Take positive feedback to the next level. “How might I be even better?”
7 tips for feedback-seeking:
- Don’t ask broad questions like, “How am I doing?”
- Don’t be needy when seeking feedback. Seeking feedback isn’t about seeking approval.
- Inquire about behaviors.
- What am I doing that serves others well?
- What am I doing that serves me well?
- What am I doing that doesn’t serve others well?
- Listen to feedback with an orientation of taking action.
- Make commitments to test-drive new behaviors.
- Consider the the feedback-giver.
- What perspectives are reflected in the giver’s feedback?
- What agenda might the giver have?
- How do you respect the giver?
- How do the values of the giver of feedback align with yours?
How might leaders put more emphasis on seeking feedback?
How might leaders seek feedback effectively?
Nice post, Dan. But SEEKING feedback is tough for most of us. And maybe that right needs to be earned, in some respect, in that the person seeking it needs to be viewed as sincerely asking for help. A standard observation in all of our games, something that we have pre-prepared in our debriefing materials, is that “Nobody ever asks the Expedition Leader for advice.” They ask about clarifying rules and similar but asking for actual HELP and ADVICE seldom occurs.
My guess is that some managers (and probably more females than males) would be good at both sides of this really important information interchange. Interesting. HOW can this blog post be made into a Job Aid for people on either / both sides of this issue? Considered alternative behaviors are fine, but how do we drive ACTING on them?
Thanks Dr. Scott. It’s great that you take this short post to new places. If you’re going to ask, be ready to receive. Be grateful. Explore. Don’t defend. It all starts with aspiration to be better. Don’t bother if these things aren’t true.
Good morning Dan! Enjoyed the post. One key to being able to seek feedback is a strong desire for growth. Without the strong desire for growth (the end), we will likely not approach the activity with the right heart (the beginning). So we have to be honest with ourselves about our motivation. We have to begin with the end in mind.
Thanks Jay. I think you nailed an essential aspect of feedback-seeking. People have good BS detectors. But a commitment to personal growth makes the process authentic.
How would you recommend soliciting this feedback? I could imagine sending out these questions ahead of our weekly 1:1 meetings and then reviewing with the person…OR…allowing people to submit their answers anonomously?
Thanks Kelly. Great question. Perhaps organizational culture is one thing to consider. In more formal cultures, use formal methods.
I like the spontaneous approach. For example, immediately after running a meeting, ask a colleague for feedback. “I was trying to include everyone in the meeting. What did I do that made it easy for everyone to contribute? What did I do that didn’t work so well?
Take note of feedback. Explore a new behavior with the person who is giving feedback. Try it out in the next meeting. Follow up with anyone who gave you feedback.
I’d lean away from anonymous feedback unless you have a coach/mentor to debrief with. An anonymous narrative 360 degree assessment makes sense. This is when an outsider is involved in the process.
This post goes well with using personal reflection. If you asked yourself some of the specific questions you noted in your post (as opposed to the too general, “How did that go?), and then sought a trusted colleague (with proper context and information) who could also answer your questions, it would be a way to start. Responding to feedback is also key…keep your “yes but” safely tucked away.
Great post, Dan. Wish I’d had these insights when I once “enjoyed” a Nine Hour Performance Review (http://wp.me/p2k440-6E). That was over 40 years ago when management was more into rote processes for HR rather than techniques for ongoing people development (in many situations, that is still the case). I was told “no news is good news,” which seemed to support a culture of “don’t ask, we’ll hit you with it in the Review” attitude. This is one career growth aspect where I think the culture, attitude, and committed practice of ongoing feedback must begin at the top, so that any requests for feedback are both encouraged as well as seen as desirable and moldable performance behaviors in and of themselves.
Hi Dan, I’m the new leader of a small (15-person) organization with a tight-knit, high-performing team. I was chosen from the outside, and am new to both the organization and the community. My personality and leadership style are significantly different than their prior leader, who was part of the group for more than 30 years, and the leader for 21 years. I feel comfortable with what I’ve done so far in terms of building rapport and getting up to speed on how the organization functions. I’m approaching my six-month mark and would like more feedback from my team to help improve my performance. The concept of feedback and performance planning is somewhat new to them; I do not believe they have not previously had opportunities to provide feedback or to receive it through any sort of formal performance planning process. How can I be most effective in introducing the idea of feedback, and helping people get comfortable with both giving and receiving it? I have a great team, and know that with open communication and mutual support we will do very well together.
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