How to Avoid the Truly Dangerous Thing While Seeking Feedback

“We define our dialogue and, in a sense, our future through the questions we choose to address.” Peter Block

Seeking feedback includes asking great questions and making space for people to provide thoughtful responses.

4 components of seeking feedback:

  1. Include several members of the team. Feedback from many sources is more useful than feedback from one person.
  2. Avoid the truly dangerous practice of asking wrong questions.
    • Address foundational behaviors, not passing anomalies.
    • Shy away from yes or no questions.
  3. Provide an opportunity for thoughtful response.
  4. Engage in forward-facing conversations. Discuss the past to better create the future.

A simple form for seeking feedback:

Openness:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how open is Fred?
  2. When you think of openness, what comes to mind?

Provide an opportunity to define terms.

Decisiveness:

 

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how decisive is Fred?
  2. When you think of decisiveness, what comes to mind?

10 potential topics for feedback:

  1. Inspiration.
  2. Collaboration.
  3. Delivering results.
  4. Building relationships.
  5. Supportiveness.
  6. Developing others.
  7. Listening.
  8. Challenging people to reach high.
  9. Addressing tough issues.
  10. Showing compassion.

2 followup questions:

Single question feedback-forms are marginally useful. Sometimes they’re demotivating.

The first question is useful. Followup questions are transformational.

#1. Why didn’t you choose a lower number?

Suppose the person giving feedback gave Fred an 8 on decisiveness. Ask, “Why didn’t you choose a lower number?”

Question #1 provides an opportunity to see strengths through the eyes of others. 

#2. If Fred was a 9 on decisiveness, instead of an 8, what would be true of him? 

 Give people an opportunity to help feedback recipients reach the next level. Choose the next higher number and explore how to get there.

Note: Use this simple form to seek feedback for yourself as well as others.

 

How might leaders create interactions that result in great feedback?

What might you add to the form I suggest?