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How to get the feedback you need?

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We need feedback to learn and grow, and if you’re waiting for our periodic review just to find out how we’re performing, but the truth we need more feedback.


What the Experts Say

Receiving feedback can be “a stressful experience” and that’s the reason why many hesitate to ask for it.

But the more often you do, the less stressful it becomes to initiate the conversation and to hear the comments. If you’re having a feedback conversation every week, there’s less to be surprised by and more opportunity to modify your behavior which ultimately would make you happier and more productive at work.

Some research even suggest that “People who go out and solicit negative feedback — meaning they aren’t just fishing for compliments report higher satisfaction,”. They adapt more quickly to new roles, get higher performance reviews, and show others they are committed to doing their jobs. Here’s how to ask for feedback that helps you get ahead.


Understand what you’re looking for

Think about the kind of feedback you crave.
Do you want more appreciation or acknowledgment?
Evaluation of your performance on a particular project or task?
Or general coaching about how you can improve and learn?

Knowing this will help you craft your approach.

“You can go to your boss and say, I feel like I get a ton of appreciation around here. I know I’m valued. What I don’t have a sense of is what I need to work on.”

Ask for feedback in real time

If you want some insight into how you did on a particular task or how you might improve on the next project, don’t dawdle. It’s best to ask sooner rather than later.

You might pull your boss aside after a meeting, or close a conversation with a client with a parting request for her reaction to your role on a recent project.


Ask specific questions

Whatever you do, don’t start off by asking, “Do you have any feedback for me?” That’s a terrible question.

Try asking…

“What’s one thing I could improve? “

So it’s clear that you’re asking for coaching and it’s clear that you assume there’s at least one thing you can work on. You can also tailor the question to the specific situation:

for example:

“What’s one thing I could have done better in that meeting or presentation?”

You should also avoid asking questions that are likely to result in yes or no answers.

Asking questions that begin with ‘how’ or ‘what’ will elicit fuller responses.


Ask for examples

To get the most out the feedback once you’ve asked, you may have to probe for specifics. Sometimes, the person will say ‘I just think you need to be more assertive or more proactive or more of a team player. That’s vague and what we call a label. It’s not very helpful. You have to unpack the label.

To do that, ask probing questions like, Can you explain what you mean? How could I have been more assertive just now? and What kinds of things should I do to be more assertive going forward?

Turn to colleagues

Your boss certainly isn’t the only one qualified to give you feedback. The people in the meeting with you or reading your spreadsheets are the ones who actually have the information to help you improve.

So when looking for input, don’t just look up the organizational chart, but also left, right, and occasionally down. Hence. to kickstart a regular feedback loop with colleagues, offer input on, observations about, and praise for their work as well. You’ll get more feedback when you’re giving some.


Principles to Remember:


  • Understand the kind of feedback you want, whether it’s coaching, praise, or an evaluation of recent work.
  • Ask in real time. This will create a more organic feedback loop going forward.
  • Pose specific questions designed to elicit helpful information and examples.


  • Just ask your boss for feedback. Ask colleagues, junior staff, and clients as well.
  • Think you have to schedule a formal meeting. You can have brief, informal coaching moments after meetings, in the elevator, and over coffee.
  • Rely on email when you are on a virtual team. Pick up the phone.

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