What would receiving frequent, specific, high-quality feedback at work do for you? Adequate performance feedback is critical for ensuring that performance expectations are being met. In addition, when working to build new skills, high-quality feedback allows us to gauge how our efforts are coming across and what mid-course corrections need to be made to achieve important development goals. Yet, many people say that they don’t get enough feedback at work or that the feedback they receive is not very helpful (e.g., “You are doing fine.”).
As a feedback recipient, there are things you can do to help ensure that the feedback you receive is valuable and can be leveraged to help you achieve your goals.
- Take the initiative and “prime the pump.” A desire for feedback is not always obvious, so actively request feedback from those with whom you interact with in key settings. In addition, be specific about the type of feedback you’d like. Instead of saying, “Jane, can you give me some feedback about how I did on my presentation?” approach her before the presentation and say, “Jane, I’m working on developing more persuasive and compelling rationale when expressing my ideas. Would you mind giving me some feedback on what I do well and less well in that area after Tuesday’s presentation to the sales team?” This will help direct Jane to the information that is most pertinent to your situation and goals.
- Focus on listening and understanding. When Jane communicates her feedback, give her your undivided attention. If you don’t understand her comments, ask clarifying questions and request examples of what she saw. At the end of the conversation, summarize what you heard and ask her if you understood her points correctly.
- Resist the urge to explain. Particularly when hearing feedback about behavior that came across differently from what was intended, it’s tempting to explain our motives (e.g., I wasn’t crossing my arms and legs during the meeting because I didn’t like what Paul said. I was freezing and was trying to stay warm!). However, explaining behavior can come across as justification, excuses, or defensiveness. Consider carefully whether it’s best to hold your thoughts or share your perspective when receiving feedback.
- Express appreciation. Thank Jane for taking the time and effort to give you feedback. If you disagree with her message or suggestions, you can still say something like, “Thank you for sharing your perspective. I will take your ideas under consideration.”
- Set the stage for the future. You will need additional feedback as you continue working toward your development goals and it may be appropriate to ask Jane for her comments at a later time. Think carefully about when and how to make future requests. For example, if you received a lot of constructive suggestions the last time you spoke to Jane, it may be best to demonstrate some progress to show that you have taken her comments seriously before asking for additional feedback from her.
Taking these actions will help you improve your performance, take some of the guess work out of development, and reach your goals more efficiently.