Get ahead. Get feedback. *FREE TOOL*

‘We all need people who will give us feedback, that’s how we improve’ (Bill Gates)

‘Feedback is a free education to excellence. Seek it with sincerity, receive it with grace.’ (Anne Marie Houghtailing)

Feedback stopwatch image

The work place and the way we work together are changing greatly. More than ever the capacity to create clear, open communications rapidly through giving and receiving feedback will be a necessary skill to succeed as individuals and as an organisation in increasingly competitive and ever changing marketplaces.

Organisations must work to create a ‘feedback culture’; one where individuals strive for rapid adaptation and improvement. One where feedback is freely and routinely requested from colleagues, customers and other stakeholders.

Feedback leads to…

  • disclosure, which builds trust, which strengthens relationships
  • self-awareness, where people are clear on their strengths and limitations and how best to utilise these
  • reduced conflict and misunderstandings
  • better customer service (internally and externally)
  • more intelligent decisions (people start to see things as they actually are, not just as they assume them to be)

In a work place, these outcomes are of significant value as they all lead to reduced waste and increase productivity and performance, which of course means good news for the bottom line.

So the soft stuff is really the hard stuff.

Little or no feedback (or unhelpful feedback) can limit personal growth and development at an individual level and progress at an organisational level. In short, organisations with an open feedback culture change and succeed faster than those that don’t.

To learn the art of asking for and acting on feedback demands both patience and practice. Because people are not used to others seeking this sensitive data, they may be reluctant to immediately open up or may just comment that “there are no problems.” So the irony is that to ultimately reduce tensions in a relationship, you may have to endure, even create, a little tension in order to get the ball rolling.

How to Ask for Feedback

Asking for feedback, like learning to give feedback, is an art.

Imagine you have just completed a significant project or delivered a presentation, you ask “Was that okay?” Or you ask your boss ‘How am I doing?’ Questions that provoke a simplified, one word answer are not helpful at all.

People tend to associate feedback with criticism, which can be another reason why people don’t ask for it. Don’t just focus on the negatives.

You need to know what things you do well so you can do more of them as well as what you need to change or stop doing. In other words, feedback should be developmental (what you could do differently or better) or motivational (what you are doing well that you should keep on doing).

Adalta’s ‘CPAT’ framework is a useful tool to ensure you are asking for feedback in the right way.

CPAT asking for feedback framework

 

 

 

 

1. Context

  • Identify specific situations that you would benefit from getting feedback on — e.g., what could you have done better in a particular meeting?
  • Also don’t wait to ask for feedback – it must be timely. You wouldn’t ask someone for feedback on a meeting delivered 3 months ago!
  • Here it is also important to consider who is the best/right person to ask for feedback. Choose people who are best placed to provide the feedback and who you know will be honest rather than just tell you what you want to hear.

2. Permission

  • Don’t assume the other person will be comfortable/willing to give feedback, ask if they would mind. If it is your line manager however, it is part of their job!
  • Remember not everyone is skilled/confident at giving feedback so don’t take it personally if they are uncomfortable doing so.
  • Ask ‘open questions’. These questions will often begin with the word ‘What’, ‘Why’ or ‘How’
  • Be specific to make it easy for the person you are asking to provide you with meaningful information.
  • Probe more deeply if people don’t provide you with enough information. Feedback must be meaningful – if it isn’t developmental or motivational it isn’t feedback.
  • Don’t just ask once. Give people multiple opportunities to give you real feedback – they’ll feel more comfortable doing so each time you ask.

3. Ask

  • Ask ‘open questions’. These questions will often begin with the word ‘What’, ‘Why’ or ‘How’
  • Be specific to make it easy for the person you are asking to provide you with meaningful information.
  • Probe more deeply if people don’t provide you with enough information. Feedback must be meaningful – if it isn’t developmental or motivational it isn’t feedback.
  • Don’t just ask once. Give people multiple opportunities to give you real feedback – they’ll feel more comfortable doing so each time you ask.

4. Thank

  • Always thank people for giving you feedback to encourage them to do it again and again.
  • Remember to be aware of your reactions to the feedback you receive – don’t judge or become defensive. Feedback is a gift – accept it graciously even if you choose not to act on it. Asking for feedback and then reacting poorly will do more harm than good!

Adalta help people and organisations evolve a feedback culture.