Constructive, specific feedback generates the most dramatic performance improvement. Therefore, go a step beyond simply requesting feedback. Put some thought into what you’re trying to improve upon. To get started, examine your goals, and think about the skills necessary to achieve them. Even general guidelines will help the feedback giver tailor his or her response to best meet your needs. This does not mean only feedback directly pertaining to what you asked is relevant - be receptive to any feedback provided. However, specificity grants you greater control over your career trajectory and improves the quality of feedback you will receive.
Ask for feedback in real time
According to Carolyn O’Hara’s Harvard Business Review article, “How to Get the Feedback You Need," “You need feedback to learn and grow, and if you’re waiting for your annual review to find out how you’re performing, you’re not getting enough of it.” You should seek feedback as close to on-the-spot as possible. These feedback sessions do not need to be extended, formalized events. Briefly get your manager’s attention after a meeting, or consult a coworker amidst a team project. Real-time feedback allows people to provide insights with the details still fresh in their minds, and allows you to immediately improve. We provide a more thorough analysis of the benefits of real time feedback realized by Temple University Health Systems here.
Seek feedback from everyone in your organization
Don’t solely rely on your manager or boss for feedback. While upper level input is obviously incredibly important, you shouldn’t limit yourself to one source alone. Peers or subordinates can provide invaluable feedback from unique perspectives. Seeking feedback from all relevant sources within the organization increases feedback quantity and richness, which aids performance improvement. Large amounts of varied feedback allow you to more fully understand your strengths and areas for improvement. By actively seeking feedback from as many applicable sources as possible, you gain a holistic picture of yourself.
Strategically Seek Constructive Feedback
Deborah Grayson Riegel’s Harvard Business Review article, “How to Solicit Negative Feedback When Your Manager Doesn’t Want to Give It,” explains the importance of reframing constructive feedback requests. She writes, “If your manager, colleague, or client is reticent to offer negative feedback directly, ask, “What is something you think I could learn from you?” It gives the other person a chance to reflect on their own talents and skills (which makes most people feel good), and share their thinking about where they could help you grow — in a nonthreatening context.” Reframing how you seek constructive feedback allows you gain open, honest answers that drive performance.
Continuously request feedback
Requesting feedback is great, but you won’t realize most of the benefits unless you regularly follow-up. If you’ve requested feedback on a particular area, check in to see if you’ve successfully modified your behavior based on their assessment. To maximize your personal development, incorporate requesting feedback into your normal routine. Routinely asking for feedback also gets your coworkers into the habit of providing it regularly. Ultimately, a steady stream of feedback generates continuous improvement.
Applying these techniques will allow you to successfully gain the feedback you need to maximize your professional and personal development.
Real World Results
In the video below from The Leadership Analytics Group - powered by DevelapMe, Cliff Tironi, Managing Partner, analyzes a real life case study to explain both the necessity and benefits of seeking feedback. Additionally, Cliff provides concrete tips on seeking feedback to seize control of your development and maximize performance.