Want to be a Champion? Eat FEEDBACK for breakfast!
Feedback: The “Breakfast of Champions!”
We’re frequently told that a large number of employees don’t get the kind of feedback they need or want. I have no reason to debate this fact but I do think that employee’s play a big role in the type of feedback they get – both its frequency and its content.
Believe it or not most managers actually get training on ways to give feedback but many don’t put what they learn to work. The “feedback rules” are not rocket science. It needs to be…..
- Timely – provided as close to real time as possible
- Clear – the giver and the receiver need to get on the same page
- Specific – using real life examples wherever possible
- Relevant to the person and their context – taking into consideration all factors that impacted the situation being described
I think most of us would agree that feedback given in this way would be helpful….so how can you get the feedback you need even when your boss may be reluctant to provide it.
We like to think that employees are much more in control of the feedback they get than they think.
Here’s some simple ideas…..
- Ask for feedback when you need it. While feedback doesn’t have to be daily, weekly or even monthly event, for employees focused on growing their careers, having one conversation every quarter where you ask “what can I do to improve my contribution to the team” is definitely not overkill.
- Get the kind of feedback that matters to you! Don’t wait for your boss to read your mind on the type of feedback you need.
“I would really like to know how you think I did on this assignment. I would value you giving me your comments on how you felt I performed in light of your expectations.”
“I’d love your feedback on how to prepare myself to be promoted into the program manager role.”
- Keep an open mind.. If you’ve asked someone for advice or guidance, resist the temptation to debate what they have to say. If you truly don’t agree with the guidance you’re being given, find a way to diplomatically clarify what they are saying.
“Im having a hard time fully grasping the importance of what you are saying. Why are you suggesting I spend more time with the ___________ team? How do you see that helping me?”
I hear that you think I could do a better job at collaboration, but in prior jobs, I’ve been told I was good at that. What specifically do you think I need to do better or differently in this work environment to be viewed as a good collaborator.”
- Make sure you “get” the feedback that you’re being given. If you’re not quite sure what your boss is saying, ask questions until you “get” what they have to say. Asking for examples is almost always helpful to help you fully understand the feedback you’re being given.
“Are you saying you’d like me work faster even if it means I might make more errors?”
“Can you give me an example of where you’ve considered me unnecessarily argumentative.”
- Ask for feedback even when you’re not quite sure what it will be.
“I sense that our working relationship isn’t working quite like you’d like it to. Can you give me some feedback on what you’d like to see changed about we work together?”
- If you need some help turning feedback into action, ask for some concrete how tos…so that you leave every feedback convo with a clear idea of what you need to DO differently.
“I hear you saying you need me to use my time more productively. What are some changes in how I am currently doing my job that you think I need to change?”
At PACE we like our employees to leave a feedback session with answers to 3 easy questions:
What do I need to START DOING that I am not doing now
What do I need to STOP DOING that I am doing now
What do I need to CONTINUE DOING that I am doing now.
You can use this same format to make sure you’ve heard the feedback correctly and will be taking the actions requested….
“It sounds like you need me STOP interrupting others when they’re talking. Is that right?”
“It sounds like I need to START being more attentive to the accuracy of my worksheets when I give them to you. Is that right?”
“It sounds like you want me to CONTINUE with my current way of organizing this project. Is that right?”
If your boss gives you an (unhelpful) platitude like “you’re a great employee” or “you need to improve be a better team member.”…take a moment to translate that feedback into something you can either start, stop or continue doing.
7. Seek out multiple sources of feedback. Oftentimes a high performing peer, or a leader in another area of the company, can offer insights into your work and opportunities that you can’t get from your current boss.
“I know I don’t report to you, but how do you see me interacting with you and members of your team? Anything I can do to improve how we work together?”
- Never ignore or discount the feedback you’ve been given – even if you don’t like it or think its off base. One way of dealing with feedback that almost never works is to either take it too casually, or “stuff’ your disagreement with its content and simply not make any of the changes suggested. Many supervisors believe they should only need to provide feedback once and expect you to either engage with them on that feedback, or turn it into action. Ignoring it could cost you your job….or even more importantly impact the quality of the relationship you have with your feedback provider.
Being a recruiting organization who talks to 100’s of candidates each day, we hear countless stories about bosses who have given an employee feedback that is ineffective or demotivating – in some cases prompting an otherwise great employee to start looking for a new job. Unfortunately we also know that some employees spend far too much time blaming their bosses for the “lack of quality feedback” rather than look for ways to get the feedback they need.
When an employee gives all the responsibility of the feedback process to their boss, they can leave a lot of career growth on the table…..
- For as motivating as it be to hear “you’re doing great – just keep doing it” an employee who fails to clarify what is meant by this platitude may end up on the short side of their next opportunity to be promoted.
- For as easy as it is to characterize your boss as a micro manager if they give you feedback you don’t like, your decision about how to handle that feedback can either advance your career, or tag you with the label of “not promotable”.
I grew in an era when feedback was known as the “breakfast of champions” (I guess we were all eating Wheaties) . While you may not be part of the Wheaties crowd, its never too late to make sure the feedback you get from all those in a position to provide it, can help you become the champion you want to be.
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