Ready to fix feedback? Then let’s go “kick some ask!”
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Leave a comment on this guest post by Tamra Chandler. This post is based on her latest book, Feedback (and Other Dirty Words) which is co-authored with Laura Dowling Grealish.
(Deadline for eligibility is 6/23/2019)
(International winners will receive electronic versions.)
We’ve got feedback all wrong. And we’re recruiting you to help fix it.
Feedback – Clear and specific information that’s sought or extended for the sole intention of helping individuals or groups improve, grow, or advance.
We’re anchoring our feedback-fixing movement in the three fabulous F’s of Fairness, Focus, and Frequency. But this foundation means nothing without the collective efforts of all of us (you, me, your peers, your boss, and her boss, too!) to lead a seismic shift in how we perceive, engage in, and experience feedback.
The biggest shift you can make today is becoming a Seeker (of feedback). Seeking, not knowing. Learning, not telling.
Why be a Seeker?
- LOWER THE FEAR: When you’re doing the asking, you control the topic, who’s in conversation, and the time and the place. This lowers the natural fear response not only for you, but also for those people you’re seeking feedback from.
- FOCUS: When you’re seeking, you can hone in on what you need. Focus the conversation on what truly matters to you. This will bring you more valuable insights, and you’re far more likely to take it all in and learn from what you are hearing.
- SHOW, DON’T TELL: When you start by seeking, others are likely to follow your lead. The best way to change behavior and start a movement is to go first!
Tamra in her own words. Tips for seeking feedback:
5 feedback seeking tips to get started:
Tip #1: Focus your ask – Seek what you need, and keep it targeted.
Tip #2: Ask in advance – Give them time to think and you’ll get better answers.
Tip #3: Increase your sources – More perspectives = better insights
Tip #4: Ask for noticing, not judgement – Simply ask for observations: What did you notice?
Tip #5: Don’t be afraid to ask for the good stuff – Identify and explore your superpowers. They matter most!
What are your feedback tips?
Tamra Chandler the CEO and founding partner of PeopleFirm LLC. Author and expert on the topic of feedback. Her latest book, Feedback (and Other Dirty Words) is co-authored with
Laura Dowling Grealish.
Loved how you defined feedback right off the bat! The intent part is vitally important and cannot be overstated.
Feedback can be scary when you have to face the truth BUT so very helpful and the best way to move forward with what we all need to accomplish!
Feedback has so much potential to enhance professional growth! But, it can go south without a second thought!!
I’ve found that focused feedback is one of the most effective tools a leader can use. One of the biggest challenges? Interrupting the other person to “explain” yourself. Be quiet, listen, take notes and tell them you appreciate their willingness to help you understand how your actions are being perceived.
Honest well intentioned feedback is often hard to recieve. It is good to ask specific people for it, as stated above, so you can control the who, where and what. It should be leaderships responsibility to seek feedback from others, especially from those we lead, to build a culture of sharing that will improve our entire team.
I enjoyed this post and so many others. Feedback is an uncomfortable topic and practice for so many of us in educational leadership. So much of what we do does not have hard data connected to it. Your tips are universally useful and effective. Thanks!
How often do we let our own inner critic stop us from seeking feedback from others. A previous post of dan’s covered this well.
Feedback is so important for growth!
Two observations. Firstly feedback is too often used as an excuse to criticise. The intent to help is a much better approach. Second the advice to give first and inspire others to follow is great. How often do we sit back saying “i wish someone would …” but do nothing, be the someone, inspire the followers – or – if another person becomes the first mover then be the first follower … which adds momentum to the movement.
If we could get to the point where feedback was simply a conversation we all saw a value in having on a regular basis wouldn’t that be amazing and powerful. Love the focus points in the post
As a giver and receiver of feedback, I’ve also found that an important part of it is open acceptance. If the receiver immediately begins defending, sometimes it shuts down the process and it will feel to the giver like nothing they say is going to matter. As a receiver, I have found myself struggling to shut up and listen before offering feedback on the feedback (sometimes they missed something important that helps it all make sense…and sometimes I’m just wrong and need to absorb the information so that I can improve myself, the process, or whatever…).
I’m a 100% believer of open honest adult communication… can’t be scared of the truth!
Feedback is an exceptional learning tool when dealing with a large group over a large geographic region. You don’t know what you don’t know.
Feedback is an excellent Learning tool for organizations spread over large geographic areas. You don’t know what you don’t know.
I have to travel with a member on my team tomorrow and I’m going to use this approach when framing up the conversation – thank you.
Authentic feedback that’s timely is the breakfast of champions
More great insights to understanding our relationships and businesses. Thanks
I can’t wait to read this book. These articles have really helped my leadership and given me a great start for a personal library list.
I know I feel comfortable giving feedback when I care about the person or else I won’t bother. Show people you care!
I usually lile, when giving feedback, framing it in the following way:
When giving positive feedback: “Tamra, in observing you in , I learn .”
When giving “constructive feedback “: “In my judgement, an area of learning that you can explore is .” – this fosters a growth mindset and frames it as a capacity for learning.
We often times are afraid of feedback because we feel judged by it. Knowing how to ask for feedback to improve the quality of what we receive is important. Equally as important is knowing how to give feedback intentionally being constructive. I look forward to reading Tamra’s book to go deeper into this subject. A necessary skill in every area of life.
I think the hardest part for someone like myself who has been in the same position for a long time with the same team will be breaking out of the routine (not only for me but for my team). Given that I would think that it may take time in order to start receiving feedback in a comfortable way.
I appreciate the advice and tips for getting started.
I love this! Thanks for sharing such simple, yet powerful, ideas that can ‘shake up’ how feedback looks in our classrooms. ☺️ @rachaellehr
Feedback is the gap between intent and impact. The more it is practiced – and expected – the easier it gets to do.
Great points – always relevant – thank you for being a highlight on how I start my day
How do you approach staff who have shut down on the concept of giving and receiving feedback, but both parties really need it? Focusing the ask is perfect but it can be hard to know where to start. Hoping the book has tips for this scenario. Thanks, as always, for your timely topics.
I’d love to talk, but we can’t …
I work in the construction engineering industry. At the completion of projects, I have asked the contractors who actually build the things I design for their thoughts/recommendations on how things could have been done better. Several times I have been told that I was the first designer to ask their opinion and that they wished more designers would dialogue with them. Asking for feedback built rapport with them. I learn from their knowledge and experience, and future design projects benefit from this type of interaction.
Back in the eighties (in my twenties), it was pulling up to one of the pickups with a twelve pack at 3 on Friday afternoon and getting roasted by the subcontractors who actually actually DID do the work …
Cheapest, best education in real life/real design I ever got; and some of the best friends, too.
Don’t know how to do that today, though …
I also appreciate the definition here. That makes it a more genuine thing, rather than just corporate-speak jargon. Which changes perceptions. I really liked Tip #4, but LOVE Tip #5!
I think that asking the right question is crucial. Asking what did you notice is a question I will add to my toolkit. Thank you for sharing.
Give when asked, take when given!
This is great! I am often seeking feedback from others as a way to continuously improve. One thing that I would add to this is to recognize the importance of creating safety and trust for those you are asking, and to not be defensive if you hear something that you may not like. Seeking feedback can only be valuable if you actually use it for good.
Communication is the key to providing clear and candid direction. Would love to read this book.
To be honest, feedback is hard. First, a lot of groundwork has to go into creating an atmosphere where feedback is embraced and people understand that honest feedback is a team enabler – so they don’t just tell leaders what they think is safe or what they think you want to hear. To be effective, feedback must be honest. The second is that feedback is one person’s perception and all feedback must be accepted, considered, and sometimes filtered. Not all feedback is helpful and learning what to keep and act upon and what to set aside makes all the difference. Feedback can absolutely be a powerful tool!
I love getting feedback-positive and negative. It gives me so much opportunity. The problem is I am TERRIBLE at giving feedback. Help!
If I need to get feedback, or initiating a feedback conversation I purposefully lob a wiffle ball question that has some obvious holes in it. These holes are easy entry points for the other individual to begin filling gaps and the feedback foundation is set. The know-it-all in me tries to squelch allowing being seen as vulnerable on something that may be somewhat obvious, but in a sentence or two that question fades away and a deep level of feedback and trust is flowing.
Good post. I like the idea of asking what they noticed. That makes it seem less threatening somehow. Thanks!
I’ve found that it’s helpful to use a method combining coaching and giving feedback when having those crucial conversations. That’s where the asking and listening comes in to help provide insight for the person getting feedback. Coaching is 80% listening, giving feedback is 20% listening. Combine them when appropriate for the best outcome!
I really like “Focus your ask.” In my experience feedback often lacks critical focus and priority items can get lost in the glut of information exchanged in a typical feedback encounter. Would love to read this book!
I appreciate the tips when seeking feedback. I can see if you ask in advance you give the person being asked to give more honest and in-depth feedback which in turn will be more beneficial.
Feedback is awesome – and so valuable! When I was in HR and hiring 6-12 people per week, the anonymous feedback I received at the end of every new hire orientation allowed me tremendous insight into areas that were most valuable to my orientees. That allowed me to make adjustments to my orientation program to focus on the areas deemed most valuable, and made for a better and more enriching experience for future new hires.
Seeking your feedback, what kind of comment should I post here?
Feedback is a gift. Just like Christmas gifts, sometimes they are perfect and sometimes it is the wrong color or size. But it is always the thought that counts.
Wow! What an exciting post. Left me on the edge of my seat shouting and waiting for more. So good!
Love the ask “What did you notice?” tip!
I agree that feedback is a powerful tool, but if you have a supervisor that does not like you can you can you take their feedback and use it as productive. Is it better to ask others for feedback that is more productive and does not cut the person down.
Great article! I appreciated the information on why and how you should seek feedback, very empowering!
This is great stuff! I know this is something I need to do, but never quite know HOW exactly to do it, or what exactly to say. But I like this: “What did you notice”…to get the conversation started, and to get over the fear of the first time asking…
I appreciate the specificity and focus of this process, in and out quickly, no pain, no gain. Feedback and reviews can swell up in our thoughts, and this seems very doable and real and possible on a regular basis. Thanks.
This is so timely for our office right now. We have someone who loves to give feedback, which usually is more in the form of criticism. I love this tool of seeking. It puts you in the driver’s seat, which throws the other person off center and therefore off their criticism train. I am open to enhancing my work and making it better, so this is a great way. By the way, I do look forward to your emails each morning. They really set my day on a positive note. Thanks for what you do.
I have a team of perfectionists, and they take any feedback, no matter how kind, really hard. I think it’s good to highlight the purpose – to help. Thank you for this post. I would love a copy of the Feedback (and Other Dirty Words) book.
As I continue to work with leaders creating leadership development curriculum and mentoring programs, I absolutely love finding information about feedback. The ask is one of the most important keys a leader, employee and/or customer can possess; in turn, they must be open to the possibility, it may not be what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.
It’s the most difficult to listen with the intent to just hear the feedback without injecting the “buts” into the other person’s response.
as always, much appreciated post. very relevant.
Great article, we are working hard to prove feedback is a great tool used for growth and not a negative thing.
I wish more people in managerial (notice i said managerial, not leadership) positions would know that. Feedback is about making the other person who receives the feedback grow (or want to grow), and not feel bad. I find feedback to often be useless, or just plain mean and personal, rather than based on skills and competence. I look forward to reading what this new book has to say to help me (and others) give and receive feedback better!
Feedback is good…but can open you up for better things. You must listen to their words and not get too defensive.
Feedback is too often used as an excuse to criticize. Your advice helps to keep the focus on healthy feedback and moving our satisfaction and growth forward
I like this one: Tip #1: Focus your ask – Seek what you need, and keep it targeted. That implies that you are focused yourself, disciplined and understand exactly the end game and what you want out of the seeking. The other four tips come from this start (i.e really understanding the end game). With the focus one really needs to understand the audience and their limitations.
The targeted aspect is critical, way too easy to let the conversation get side tracked.
The challenge is to get what you need to hear rather than what people think you want to hear. Simple getting what you want is ass-kissing or self serving at its worst. It also puts you in an echo chamber which is very unlikely to lead to any improvement.
Liked receiving the feedback as ‘Seeker & Learner’.
A leader needs to interact with all those who are connected with him for his committed deliveries. Once focused on planned goals and achievement with collective efforts, his aim can be how best he succeeds in the set target period.
He has to be open in terms of listening to his seniors, fellow colleagues, subordinates and the external customers to overcome the likely difficulties in the transit while going through a success journey. The feedback from all involved for a given mission actually helps a leader to ensure the best performance in achieving the planned results. It also brings a human angle to keep all members happy in the process.
This is great!
I think focusing your ask is really important. I always struggle to answer questions like “how am I doing?” Yet, I tend to ask the same vague questions myself.
Feedback is often more about listening and ‘seeking’ as you state rather than speaking. WAIT! (Why am I talking?)
Love the seeking strategy which helps you control the narrative. It not only helps ensure you will receive targeted feedback that YOU find most useful, it will feel less like an attack since you initiated it. Mindset is so important and wanting meaningful feedback and actually accepting it are different. If you are the seeker of improvement then it will be easier to accept feedback and the person giving the feedback will be more comfortable offering it. Forced feedback feels like criticism no matter how accurate it is. Feedback for growth not gotcha.
I love it when you have a book review. It show how many followers you have. Ok fear of feedback and back to yesterday and trust issues. Trust vs respect do they all go in hand? My head is spinning just when I was starting to think I had this leadership thing figured out.
I really appreciate and use tip 2- asking in advance. I think about this in two ways:
1. Asking someone to observe you for something specific (how often did I cross my arms in the meeting or start a statement with the word “no”), allowing for them to pay attention in the moment and then share after. An advantage to this is that they’re specifically paying attention to it and are less likely to have some unconscious behavioral science principles come into play (recency effect, etc.)
2. Asking and then giving that time to allow them time to reflect before answering. As someone who needs time to reflect, I appreciate when I’m given that time.
The focus and specific ask are so important to call out. I would love to have a opportunity to read this book!
Love the feedback tips and feel that feedback is critical to our growth; however, we have to hope that the person providing that feedback is honest and not just telling us what we want to hear.
We ask our agency partners specific questions about how our free nutrition education classes are working for them. I think we can tweak our questions a bit, even though we ask if any improvements are needed. Our supervisor welcomes feedback, and I think our team could glean a lot from this book—and learn how to use feedback, as well as give it.
As agencies, feedback seems key to our development. However, it is tough to get past the fear of being emotionally destroyed when asking for feedback or of coming across as negative when providing it. It is damaging to trust when feedback is provided (and shared by multiple people) and no steps are taken or nothing changes.
When trying to create a culture of feedback, leadership should take the first steps, and seek out the information rather than invite people to share. Modeling is truly one of the best ways to create change. By being vulnerable, they allow others to be vulnerable too.
I hope to receive a free book it would be a interesting read. Sometimes it is how we ask the question on how we receive the feedback. Show don’t tell…….powerful
This is very timely for me as I started a new job as a team leader for a highly functioning team where every team member told me they were the hardest working on the team when I met with each of them! I am listening and learning and keeping a pretty tight hold on feedback at this early stage. Thank you for the great tips! I’d love to read more!
Great topic and how timely. Feedback is often seen as criticism and not constructive.
This is an area of improvement for me! I look forward to using your tips as I lead my team to improve instruction. THANKS!
Having had some tough experiences with feedback that I was a total shocker, you need to dust yourself off and keep asking I think.
I like the open ended question of what did you notice. It takes the pressure off of the person “getting it right” when you ask!
This is great. Feedback has always been a little gray scary area for me!
either giving or receiving feedback is difficult. Making it safe, feeling safe, everyone’s past experiences can cause such varied responses. I want to learn ways to begin with new employment relationships and also how to introduce into existing relationships to help us reduce our blind spots and better know ourselves and each other. Would love a copy of the book.
360 degree leadership includes 360 degree evaluation. This can create a feeling of insecurity as most deal with evaluation top down or at a maximum side to side. However, getting feedback from everyone in the team helps develop better leaders, who ironically, become more secure in themselves and in seeking out other’s input without feeling threatened.
Be prepared for the responses, if you ask for feedback you might not always be pleased with what some say.
Feedback is a gift and we can’t grow or learn without receiving it.
The best kind of feedback is unsolicited feedback – proud to be working with two principals that asked for feedback from the entire staff three times during the year, without being prompted. They were able to take action based on the feedback to improve the craft. This is about creating a culture of growth!
One of the biggest things as a servant leader is to understand how others perceive you and ask them to give you constructive feedback. It’s hard sometimes to open that door without sounding like you’re just looking for validation. I like the idea of this book providing guidance and focus. I look forward to reading it.
I like the thought that I go seek out my feedback. That way I am ready for it and more open to suggestion vs someone just sneaking up and springing it on me, making me guarded and unreceptive. It is also a great way to open a dialog with the other team members that will help the organization all around.
Feedback is such an underused practice. Thanks for sharing these insights.
Simple, yet it creates profound shifts.
Feedback, ya wow! It is so tough! I really like the definition used here, not using feedback in a wounding way. Also the 2 way street of feedback, I like the positive for encouraging feedback, I have however been in a position were someone was easily able to give out feedback, but certainly did not want to turn that mirror round. The asking for specific and focused feedback and even before starting something plus controlling the situation is a great plan! I recently heard this quote for feedback and love it: “Feedback is like being hit by gold nuggets, it hits a bit but it is very valuable.”
I think we should drop the term “feedback” it always reminds me of that ear splitting noise we’ve all been subjected to when microphones are at play… and quite often people’s reactions are the same; we screw up our eye’s and turn away from the painful… Tip #4: Simply ask for observations says it all for me. Asking for observations sharpens people’s attention on your behaviour as they see it rather than providing thoughts about where they’d like you to be.
As soon many have mentioned, the most important take away for me is controlling the who, the how and the when for feedback. That’s a game xhanger, whether I’m tempted to give unsolicited feedba k…maybe hold off and model the “noticing” process. Lovely.
As a new leader in a school, I sought feedback from my staff asking what I should keep doing, stop doing, and start doing. I then shared that feedback out with the staff. I showed my vulnerability and it helped build a better team.
Yes! This! What a great way to think about feedback! Thanks for the different lens!
The focus part being in your control may put blinders on your feedback before it’s even considered. Focused asks are good, but you also need to balance with some probing that will illicit honest responses you hadn’t thought about. There’s some finesse involved, and it’s more than a final open field asking, “Anything else?” This probably comes in Tip #4 – ask for the “notice” and relying on observations that weren’t your own. Perspective is everything.
In giving feedback, be very selective with the choice of words. When one is asking for feedback or even if you are giving feedback (without invitation), they are offering themselves, their work, their habits and everything to your assessment. Please do not ruin the moment. Use it for the best possible growth.
I don’t know how many times I go into feedback sessions and then fail to deliver because I do not do these things. Common sense in all reality, but having some firm foundation items to build on is huge. This, in combination with another tool that I have recently learned, could be game changers. Thank you for sharing!
This is an incredibly important topic and can be applied to a variety of different fields. I do a lot of professional development for coaches of student teachers. Our work facilitating a mindset to seek criticism and safe spaces for vulnerability can be difficult. The perspective of seeking feedback ourselves is insightful…we need to walk the walk and seek opportunities to grow ourselves.
Love the “”three fabulous F’s of Fairness, Focus, and Frequency.” Also, so important to PROVIDE feedback in order to make the SEEKING of feedback more likely. People are more likely to address the request of people who indeed have made the decision to provide feedback to others – both with strong attention to Fairness, Focus, and Frequency … So important: Make sure it’s feedback that does become OR even get perceived as directions to be followed.
I love these suggestions- especially about asking in advance. Give people time to think about it.
Feedback should not equal fear.
Why is it so hard for me to know what I need… so I can ask for it? Not knowing is hard to deal with.
I absolutely love this post! I work in a correctional institution and part of the program we teach includes giving, receiving and applying feedback. It is so important not only for leaders, but for everyone! When working with incarcerated individuals who are stuck in their ways, feedback can be a very difficult lesson. I’d be excited to have them read this book! We’re all leaders in our own lives!
I just participated in this conversation yesterday with state officials. Honest feedback needs to begin with inquiry. That is how powerful feedback can be received openly to fuel effective improvement. We all need the questions for self-reflection and keys to improvement in practice. Looking forward to reading more ~
Great advice here. I’m looking forward to reading the book and seeing if our whole management team will agree to do this together. An ah-ha moment for me was to ask ahead and how that, along with specificity, will get you much higher quality feedback.
Would love a copy of this book! It’s a much needed book! Can’t wait to get my hands on it and glean from all the wisdom.
Feedback is so important!
Thanks for flipping my thinking. I’m now reviewing my purposes for feedback, and the language I might use in the process. In these days of Covid19, feedbsblbrstgervthdm assessment is my goal. Cheers!