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How to Better Ask for Feedback

Photo by Cody Engel on Unsplash

This subject is something I have been thinking about a lot so I decided to write about different ways we can ask for and receive better feedback. Asking for feedback can help you shift your priorities, to spend time learning a new skill and even consider new things. Good feedback can definitively accelerate your growth.

Asking for feedback can be uncomfortable and also challenging for the other person because they might not know what you’re looking for and what they should share.

If your goal is to have a more holistic view, in addition to your company’s 360° periodic feedback loop, you can solicit additional feedback from different team members. Spending timing crafting the skill of asking for feedback will be worth it. So prepare, plan your sessions, and think about the questions and topics you can ask about to learn more.

▪️ Plan

The first and one of the most important steps is to plan. Plan the best time or opportunity to ask for feedback, the type of feedback you are looking for, on which specific area(s) of your performance you’d like feedback, whose feedback you’d like. Consider how feedback can help you and make sure to plan how you’ll take action.

▪️ Prepare Your Questions

Develop a list of questions you want to ask. You can organize the questions into themes, and think about your goal in asking that set of questions. Make sure the answers to your questions will achieve your goal of learning more about that specific theme for example. The set of questions can be open-ended and also yes/no questions.

  • Open-ended questions: These can be super helpful in helping you to investigate an issue or opportunity, because they give you an opportunity to ask for additional questions and explore a topic.
  • Yes/No questions: Sometimes you can strategically ask for more straightforward feedback, and these types of questions come in handy. Since responses to these allow for interpretation, you might need to ask followup questions.

▪️ Examples of Open-ended Questions

  • What do I do really well that I should continue doing? Ask for examples.
  • What should I do more often? Ask for examples, and ask how you can incorporate more of those actions.
  • What’s one thing I can do to have more impact? Ask for examples.
  • What’s one thing I should stop doing? Ask for more specific feedback on why you should stop or concentrate on other areas.

▪️ Examples of Yes/No Type of Questions

  • Should this project/area be my priority in the next quarter?
  • Do I need to ask for additional stakeholder information on this specific issue, or do you think the information we already have is enough?
  • Can I have more impact in my current role?
  • Have I shown improvement since the last review cycle?

▪️ Identify From Who You Need Feedback

Once you have a goal and the questions you’d like to ask, you will need to plan who you’d like to ask for feedback. You can start thinking about the team members you work more closely with, or depending on your goal, you can solicit feedback from someone you’re working with on a specific project. Such people or team members can give you important insights on how you’re doing and the opportunities for improvement.

It’s a good strategy to always widen your feedback search. Of course it’s important to think about direct managers and people who are senior to you, but also colleagues at a similar level as you and more junior colleagues as well.

▪️ Prepare the Feedback Format You’ll Be Using

Your feedback strategy and plan doesn’t need to include in-person feedback during 1:1’s, you can also use different platforms to ask for feedback, including Google Form anonymous type of questions so you can ask several people for honest feedback.

Asking for anonymous feedback can be a good strategy if you’re looking for specific and honest feedback about different team members. And since it’s anonymous, respondents can feel comfortable in sharing more details in their responses, so use that to your advantage.

Don’t forget to ask if they can share their feedback before you schedule the meeting or share the form. It’s important to let them know what you’re looking for and how you value their input.

Always follow up thanking them for providing feedback. Make sure to acknowledge their time and expertise. After some time, it’s a good idea to show them you’re taking action and how their feedback helped you to take action or refocus your priorities.

▪️ Important

Create an environment where the feedback meeting is more a conversation than an interview. Make sure the other person is comfortable and understands your goals. After you receive the feedback, you can ask follow-up questions and acknowledge their thoughts, this is not the time to have discussions and explain yourself. Thank them, and share that you’ll keep their feedback in mind.

  • Ask for honest feedback, and make them feel comfortable.
  • Ask specific and unbiased questions.
  • Take notes.
  • Be timely.
  • Follow up and ask clarifying questions.
  • Activate your listening skills.
  • Always follow up.

▪️ Summary

  • Asking for feedback is a fantastic way to make sure you’re focused on the areas that can bring you more impact and can help to improve your growth.
  • Plan when and how and who you want to ask for feedback.
  • Define a good moment to ask for feedback and also the method of soliciting feedback. Is it better to ask open-ended questions or Yes/No type questions?
  • Strategize whether you will ask for the feedback via 1:1 conversations or via anonymous form. Depending on your goal, you’ll be more efficient choosing one over the other.
  • Write good questions that are straightforward and unbiased. Focus on one area/theme per question.

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Thaisa Fernandes

Thaisa Fernandes

Problem solver and perfectionist in recovery willing to stretch myself and risk making mistakes to achieve innovative solutions and validate my learnings

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