Asking for feedback isn’t always easy…
If you feel like you’re not getting enough guidance at work, it can be difficult to figure out what you’re doing right or wrong – meaning improving your work ethic or advancing your career can seem like an impossible feat.
To make sure you’re receiving all the advice you need to progress, here are our top tips on how to get feedback at work:
Pick the right time(s)
When it comes to asking for feedback, timing is everything.
Although annual or quarterly check-ins (or appraisals) with your manager are the most obvious opportunities, don’t shy away from seeking feedback in real time. For example, if you’ve just finished an important presentation, ask your manager how they think you did shortly afterwards.
Because whether it’s requesting a short meeting to discuss something, or even having a quick five minute conversation in the lift, giving (and receiving) constructive criticism is always easiest when it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind.
Providing your manager is free to chat, these kind of impromptu sessions are great ways to build up a comprehensive list of your strengths, weaknesses, and areas that need improvement.
Know who to ask
Feedback doesn’t just have to come from your superiors.
Whilst you should still seek regular opportunities to discuss how you’re doing with your manager, you might find that other people you work with also have equally helpful feedback to give. So try and approach everyone you work closely with – whether its colleagues, clients, or customers.
And it doesn’t have to be a formal chat either. Even something as simple as getting a colleague’s thoughts on your work, or asking a customer what they thought of your service, could be the second opinion you need to improve.
Not only will this mean you’ll get more feedback, it’ll also ensure that what you do receive is well-rounded.
The result? Quantity and quality.
Choose your words wisely
Before meeting with your manager or colleagues, it’s vital to understand exactly what you want to achieve from hearing their thoughts.
Are you looking for more appreciation, advice with a specific project, or coaching on how you can improve? If in doubt, ask yourself where you want to go in your career (short term or long term), and what type of feedback could help you get there.
Then, prepare specific, open ended questions that encourage the listener to give a detailed answer (e.g. ‘what could I have done better in X project?’).
Other examples of questions to ask could include:
- What could I do to make your job easier?
- How did X project go from your perspective?
- How could I prioritise my tasks more effectively?
- What do I need to do specifically to prepare for X presentation?
- Who should I be working with more closely?
And don’t be tempted to simply focus on the negatives. Asking about what you did well is just as important as asking what you could do better – and will not only boost your confidence, but also help you to realise which aspects of work you should be doing more of.
Take it on board
Finally, always keep an open mind when receiving feedback.
Criticism is only given for your own good, so avoid being defensive, and think about how you could use it to improve.
Keeping a record of the various feedback you receive will allow you to properly assess your next steps, plan some actions, track your progress – and most importantly, be sure you’re heading in the right direction.
Then, when your next review comes up, you’ll be able to prove you took the feedback on board.
Noting the areas in which you’ve excelled in addition to constructive criticism is also a good idea. Not only will it keep you motivated, it’ll also provide you with a whole host of accomplishments to mention in future job applications or pay rise requests.
Bonus points if you’re able to quote metrics-based achievements (e.g. upped sales by 10%).
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