Feedback is a gift and an essential component in our personal and professional development. Receiving constructive commentary on what we are doing well, where there is room for improvement and how to close the gap can mean the difference between developmental stagnation and fulfilling our potential.
However, not everyone is equipped or motivated to provide constructive, meaningful and practical feedback. In my experience as an executive coach, I have been shocked at how ill-equipped and uncomfortable leaders can be in coaching their team members.
Just last week, I was coaching a high-potential chief financial officer who complained that she had never received any feedback from her boss despite multiple attempts to garner it. I believe she is not on her own and that we must teach all of our employees to become more proactive and self-sufficient in how they gather and process feedback.
Rather than feedback being a one-way transaction between manager and employee, make feedback a multi-level and ongoing interaction put firmly in the hands of the individual. In just three easy steps, we can empower our entire workforce to take ownership of this essential part of their professional growth and development.
Monthly Self-Evaluation Routines
Taking time for self-reflection and evaluation can be even more powerful than externally generated feedback. For the most part, we are each our own worst critic, right? We have higher expectations of ourselves than those around us. So, why not use this behavior to create healthy self-evaluation routines that are conducted on a monthly basis? Use these five questions for your personal feedback session:
1. What achievement(s) am I most proud of this month?
2. What would I do differently to ensure a better result or even higher performance?
3. Which of my skills and talents am I not accessing or leveraging fully?
4. If I were my manager, what feedback would I give myself?
5. What one action am I going to take to demonstrate I have done something with this feedback?
Conducting Your Own 360-Degree Survey
Feedback is available all around us and has value when garnered from peers, team members and those in more senior positions. Why not conduct your own 360-degree feedback survey? It can be as simple as identifying individuals in the organization whose opinion you value and dropping them an email with these simple questions:
1. What is one skill or behavior you believe I do particularly well?
2. What is one skill or behavior I could work on?
3. Is there anything else you would like to share with me that will help with my professional growth and development?
When sending out these emails, I also like to offer feedback in return. If someone takes the time to provide you with feedback, it is only right that you take the time to do the same for them.
Making It Easy For Your Manager
Not everyone feels entirely comfortable giving feedback. I’ve found that often, people are afraid of offending or being challenged on the feedback they share. If you are not receiving feedback from your manager, here are a few questions that will help you understand what’s stopping them and make it easy to kick-start the feedback process:
1. I know I would greatly value and benefit from your feedback. What is one thing I can do to make providing this feedback easy for you?
2. Is there any particular format you prefer to give your feedback in (i.e., written, face-to-face, recorded, etc.)?
3. The two specific pieces of feedback that would be of most benefit me are what I’m doing well that you’d like me to continue and what you’d like me to improve on. For the area you want me to improve, what does “great” look like?
These three simple feedback activities can be easily integrated into an organization’s continuous development processes. These activities also serve to empower employees to own their professional development and take accountability for ensuring they are receiving valuable feedback from multiple sources.