I know someone whose boss is reluctant to give her any feedback about where she can improve. No one is perfect at their job and it’s a lost opportunity that he doesn’t provide insights to help uncover her inevitable blind spots. So, she asked a trusted colleague for feedback and received two bits of candid observations that would allow her to tweak her behavior and improve. She was grateful for the commentary.

Hopefully, you don’t face such hesitation in receiving feedback about your performance. Some strategies to help you gain the information only others can provide:

  • Ask for feedback regularly. Don’t make it a big deal or a one-time thing; instead, seek evaluative comments after every major presentation, proposal, or project.
  • Keep it simple. At the end of each class or workshop, I ask for 1 Praise (thing that went well), 1 Wish (wish we would have/wouldn’t have/could…), and 1 Thing they Learned. Participants can do it in a few minutes and it’s structured to give me instant feedback on both the good and areas that need attention.
  • Ask for 1 thing. By asking for one thing you could do differently, you may be more likely to get a response. It removes the pressure for the respondent to think of everything or even the most important thing, but you at least get some feedback in the process.
  • The 1-10 method. Author Adam Grant asks people to give feedback from 1-10. He says no one ever gives a 10, so he asks: “How can I get closer to a 10.” It’s an invitation for people to start coaching.
  • Ask for advice instead of feedback. Feedback can have a negative connotation, whereas “advice” feels helpful. People may be more willing to share.
  • Frame your inquiry as “If only….” Your presentation would have been great “if only…” or You would be a better supervisor “if only…”

The more you normalize feedback, the more likely you are to receive it. Asking for insights is a good start to make truth-telling and continuous improvement part of your culture.

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