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.
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.
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.
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.