For years, my clients have asked me to teach courses to their leaders about how to give feedback.
They want to know how to deliver the bad news, and how to talk about disappointing performance, and how to address the most personal of topics at work. (Giving feedback about hygiene is something that comes up surprisingly often.)
But rarely was I ever asked to teach about how to ask for feedback, or even how to receive it well.
The deeper I got in my consulting practice, into truly helping organizations transform their cultures, the more it became apparent to me that ASKING for feedback, and being RECEPTIVE to feedback were painfully overlooked skill sets that MUST be developed.
The loop of feedback includes the courage to ask for it, the humility to receive it, and the finesse to deliver it effectively so that it leads to actual change.
All 3 of these elements are essential to creating a culture in which feedback freely flows and learning happens rapidly.
Today, I’ll focus on how to ask for feedback, since asking creates permission and opportunity. And let’s face it, it can be hard to give feedback for a variety of reasons. Let me give you an example.
At one point a couple of years back, my teaching partner, Michelle, and I had been teaching a lot about feedback, and she reached out to me and several others to ask for feedback on her teaching. (Let me point out that this was in conjunction with a class we were teaching that was all about the power of feedback, so it made perfect sense that she would ask.)
She got almost zero response. Crickets.
When we took a closer look, these were some of the reasons.
Bottom line? There are lots of very real barriers to giving good feedback, so let’s learn to make it easy!
First, get clear and specific on what you want feedback about. Don’t just say, "can you give me some feedback?" Say, "can you give me feedback on this specific thing?"
For example, I always want feedback about how the subjects I address in my videos are helping you create a better workplace. I want to know, how are you applying these lessons and are they helpful?
The specific question I have is, "how does this content help you be a better leader or contributor at work?"
Second, ask someone who is in a position to observe you, and has a specific kind of knowledge to share.
Again- I would ask YOU, my viewers, to provide the feedback. Not necessarily someone who is not currently working, because they have a different set of circumstances, and probably not someone who never watches my videos.
Finally, make the request in a timely manner, and give the person some warning.
For example, I might say, "hello viewer! I am preparing to release a series of short videos about how to increase engagement with your remote team.
"Since you are now suddenly leading a remote team, and I really want to provide something valuable for you, could you give me some feedback on what is most and least applicable for you in this series before I publish it?
"It will take about 1 hour of your time to watch the 3 videos and answer a few questions and the videos will be ready next week. Will that work?"
If I frame my request that way, you will know exactly what to look for, and you will feel that giving me an honest answer would be helpful for me, so you are more likely to be straight-forward and not sugar coat your opinion.
Feedback is really important… and it can be tough to give, and tough to get.
But for us to get better, and to do it quickly, we need to learn and grow together which means talking honestly about what is working, and how we can improve.
This is just one side of the feedback story, but remember- this kind of learning is FREE, and relatively easy, and it can help you be far more effective in everything you do, so give it a try!
And join me for my upcoming course called, “Cultivating a Learning Culture and Leading Change” where we will go deeper into this topic and help you lead a happy, high-energy team that really gets results!
See you there!