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Seek Feedback In Easy Waters First…..

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

You may be very curious about how your co-workers, direct reports, or bosses see you. You just want to know what you can improve or tweak, and what’s already going well.

Don’t Wait for BFD’s But you don’t want to wait for a big feedback deal like performance review, 360 survey or employee engagement survey. These can be an overwhelming blast of ratings and comments that take up a lot of time and psychic energy. These BFD’s (Big Feedback Dives) can be stressful and make you feel like you’ve been pushed off the high dive. The worst thing is that they don’t occur very often and you may have to wait too long to satiate your curiosity.

Start easy and you’ll be eager to dive in again and again:

Level One: Chat with one colleague

Pick out a co-worker or direct report who fits these three criteria: 1) someone you trust  2) a person who sees your work pretty closely 3) someone who’s not too nicey-nice and trying to keep everybody happy. Have a simple feedback conversation. Tell them you want to develop yourself in a few specific areas and you’d like their feedback about which ones are most important. Suggest a few options, like how you lead meetings and how well you communicate the company’s strategy. After they provide feedback–whether positive, constructive criticism, or both–ask for specific suggestions about how to do even better. Since most people are new to giving direct feedback, be OK that you may have to prime the pump–and provide your own best guesses on where you need to improve. Use the phrase “Which would be a better focus–X or Y?” and then have them clarify.

Level Two: Ask your boss

Ask your boss for a short meeting. Have a similar conversation to the one in Level One, but add in your purpose for the feedback: “In addition to developing my skills as a leader, I’d like to learn more about the financial side of our work. Can you give me feedback about how I can use financial information to improve my area?” Also ask about how you are doing in two selected areas of your current job. If your boss tells you “You’re doing a great job,” propose a couple of ways you think you could take it to the next level and get feedback on your ideas. All of these prompting strategies can make your boss more comfortable.

Level Three:  Mention what you are working on, and ask for me Once they’ve given you some feedback, refer to it a few times in one-on-one conversations or team meeting. Acknowledge how they helped you with some suggestions, and share how you are implementing these. Then widen your feedback search to additional areas. You’ll discover that once you have received and appreciated their feedback, they will be more open and helpful to you.

By starting easy and diving a little deeper, you are getting everyone comfortable–not only giving you feedback, but also seeing the value of asking for it themselves! Soon everyone’s in the water and feeling refreshed!

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