How to Ask for Constructive Professional Feedback

We assume we’re doing a good job. But how can we know for sure? Often we work in our own little ‘tunnel’ with little input left or right. As a result, we can self-analyse our way into daily uncertainty about our performance or, maybe worse, convince ourselves we’re doing so well that we don’t need to change or improve. If your work place isn’t operating a culture of regular, open feedback, you need to go and find it yourself. Here are a few ways to seek constructive feedback and use it to grow your skills and produce better results.

 

Make the right statements

Tell those around you that you want feedback and that you are actively seeking their help to improve your work. Set some rules. You want people to be honest and give you the information that will help you do your job better and support them in their work. This includes feedback about your strengths, what you are doing well, and, if  there’s an awkward issue to confront, tell them they have free license to do so.

 

Ask the right questions

Be specific as to the kind of feedback you want. “What am I doing well that I should keep doing or do more of?” “What can I do to make a better impact in this area?” “What part of my job I could change to do better?” “How can I better support the team?” “Is there anyone in my team I’m neglecting?” The more detailed and precise your questions, the more pertinent feedback you’ll get.

 

Feedback to the future

It’s the future that counts in all feedback you receive. That’s your focus. The past is where the feedback will come from, but it’s there to nourish your future. So make that very plain. It’s a positive approach anyway, and if people appreciate that their input is designed to improve your future output, they’re more likely to participate openly.

 

Give the right answers

“You have got to be kidding!” isn’t one of them. If you seek constructive feedback, use it to build better skills and results; don’t demolish it with a wrecking ball of denial. Remember, if you embark on this journey of self-discovery through the opinions of others, you’re going to get a few things you don’t agree with. Don’t run over them with a wail of incredulity. Stop, calm yourself and only move on when the way is clear.

 

Write it down

Take notes of all your feedback. Not only will this give you an ongoing reference for areas needing improvement, people will take the process more seriously. When they see you writing down their feedback, those words will become more important to them too and they’ll give more thought to what they say.

 

Respond, repeat

Don’t just ask for feedback once. Make it a regular habit and use it to make a difference in your work practices. This is development-based feedback to fine tune and fast track your professional growth.

 

Be resilient

Seeking regular professional feedback does take some courage and a bit of a ‘thick skin’. You might hear some things you didn’t expect – some will be pleasant, some might challenge you and even make you question your methods. But isn’t that the point? Questioning your practices is the first step to a better, more professional you.

 

How Your Organisation can Benefit from a Growth Mindset

Your staff are all good at some things, bad at others and that’s just the way it is, right? Actually, it’s just the way it isn’t. Yes, but surely some people are limited in their scope for development; some are destined to be leaders, others are intrinsically followers. Wrong again; that’s a fixed mindset; a rigid viewpoint that can adversely affect your organizational growth.

 

Embrace the power of a growth mindset

The concept of a growth mindset was pioneered by renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck and has led to substantial increases in motivation and productivity in workplaces adopting its principles. With a fixed mindset you’re likely to view talent as something you either have or don’t have, yet a growth mindset proves that latent and new talents can be developed in anyone; all it needs is the right attitude. A growth mindset means today’s ‘Joe Average’ can be tomorrow’s star performer. A growth mindset means today’s failing math student can be tomorrow’s math professor or, to be more positively lateral, tomorrow’s renowned artist. .

 

A growth mindset means thinking outside the box

And by box, I mean pigeonhole, because that’s what we tend to do: we employ people based on a resume and background and we pigeonhole them according to their abilities. But what if that person peered out of their pigeonhole and started climbing into others, discovering new interests, new abilities and unexpected new gifts? That’s what happens when you and those around you operate with a growth mindset. How many stars is your organisation hiding behind rigid job descriptions right now? Free them to find their true calling by giving them the chance to grow into new areas.

 

A growth mindset gives everyone an opportunity

By adopting a growth mindset, Microsoft have completely rethought their employee development program. One innovation is an annual ‘hackathon.’* This gives every Microsoft employee, no matter what their position, the chance to generate ideas for any internal business sector they choose. If their idea is adopted, Microsoft funds it and a team is established to put it into action. Not only has a latent leader been found, but Microsoft has a hot new project.

 

A growth mindset recruits from within

It makes sense. As an organisation, you build a culture and team camaraderie based around people who know and trust each other. There’s a shared, well practiced understanding of your methods and ideals.  So while a fixed mindset instinctively hires from outside because they believe talent can’t be developed in their existing staff, a growth mindset promotes from within. A growth mindset recognises latent talent, passion for learning and overall potential. Not only does this give people working for you unlimited scope for growth, it builds powerful loyalty and employee engagement.

 

A growth mindset ignores qualifications

Well, not entirely, but how many times have you seen a job application saying ‘Must have university degree.’ Such demands can be associated with fixed mindset thinking. On the other hand, a growth mindset will be more interested in capable, independent thinkers and learners with a hunger for self-improvement. Free thinkers with passion and drive can often be your key drivers for success.

 

A growth mindset starts at the top

It has to. While many of your staff will be hungry for self-development, plenty won’t. In fact they’ll resist it for their own reasons. But to maximize personal and professional growth, we all need to get out of our comfort zones. We need to stop clinging to the tried and true and grasp the untested. We need to try new tasks, new skills and new techniques. Above all we need to accept growth as a process, expect to have a few failures along the way and be fine with that. A growth mindset liberates minds and frees entire organisations to be whatever they want to be.