Managers: 8 Steps to Get the Feedback You Need

Last week we talked about the superpower of self-awareness, which is the first step to self-management and to showing up the way you want to at work in your role as a manager.

But even when your self-awareness x-ray vision is perfectly clear, there will be always challenging situations you just can’t see through on your own.

Then what? If there’s something you can do to improve your performance as a manager, how can you make sure you’re aware of it right away?

You need a second set of eyes. You need feedback.

The problem is, managers usually don’t try to find feedback, it finds them. And when it does, it usually hurts.

For instance, how would you feel if your boss, out of the blue, asked you, “Could I give you some feedback?”

Most of us would instantly feel anxious. Right?

Unfortunately, when a situation like that happens, the feedback that your boss feels is necessary to deliver is rarely something positive; it’s always something that they would like you to fix, something you’ve been doing “wrong,”

Because feedback usually requires the recipient to come face-to-face with something they have to change, we tend to avoid it.

Change makes us uncomfortable. And having our work scrutinized can make us feel attacked.

But avoiding feedback prevents us from finding ways to improve. We need feedback.

The truth is, growth only happens with discomfort. So if the idea of getting feedback makes you feel uncomfortable, you’re on the right track!

But I want to share something with you that can soften the blow, and make feedback feel more comfortable.

Don’t wait for it; go out and get it.

Would you like to make sure you’re never surprised by feedback ever again?

Here’s the secret: Don’t wait for feedback to find you, go out and get it. If you’re a control freak like me (and lots of other managers) doing this will help you to get feedback when and where it’s most comfortable for you. This will also help you to be more receptive to it and use it to become even better.

I’ve got 8 steps for you to take to make sure you get the feedback you need.

1. Answer these questions to get prepared to go get some feedback.

Who might be one of the best people on your team (above or below you on the corporate ladder) for you to get feedback from? 

What might be the best time and place for you to meet with them to get feedback?

2. When setting the meeting, explain that you’d like to meet in order to get some feedback from them.

3. During the meeting, consider asking for feedback in the following ways. Choose the option that feels the most comfortable to you.

“Based on what you see, what might be the most important thing I can do to be better in my role?” 

“What could I do more of (or less of) to be more effective as a manager?”

“Recently, I’ve been working on leading more productive meetings (or whatever aspect of your performance you’re currently working on improving), how am I doing?”

4. Then listen. Really listen intently to the feedback. Resist any urge to be defensive or to justify your past actions. Stay curious and ask clarifying questions so that you understand exactly what the feedback means and how you can implement it.

5. After you clearly understand the feedback, take some notes with the other party still present, to capture what you feel are the most important aspects for you to remember. 

6. Ask the teammate if it would be OK if you met with them again in the future in order to benefit from their observations again.

7. Express your gratitude to them for having the courage to be open with you and to help you make improvement.

8. This might be the most important of all: USE THE FEEDBACK. Get to work immediately to implement the feedback you received. Your goal should be to create a permanent shift in your behavior which is big enough for everyone on your team to notice. 

Ultimately, the goal of this exercise is to become aware of something brand new that you can fix in order to move your personal improvement forward by leaps and bounds. And in reality, whatever comes to your attention in this process of requesting feedback, is immensely more important for you to work on than anything that you might have identified on your own as an area of improvement.

One of the greatest incidental benefits of asking for feedback is that by doing so, you can create a shift in the culture of your team. As you continue to seek out partners in your personal improvement, others will naturally start to imitate the behavior you model for them—they’ll begin to ask you and those around them for feedback.

If you worked in an environment where giving and receiving feedback was a natural part of everyone’s behavior, just imagine what things could be like at work a few months from now!

But someone has to take the lead. Will it be you?

If I can support you in any way, please let me know!

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