July '19 Discussion: Soliciting Great Feedback

Many of our customers are exploring ways to most effectively enable a feedback culture focused on growth that drives improved business outcomes. An incredibly high priority during this cultural shift is to continually ensure that the feedback provided is informative and actionable for the recipient.

We all know that there are risks inherent in providing constructive feedback to colleagues and those risks become even more prevalent when that feedback becomes part of a performance record. We’ve found that the key to mitigating these risks and building a culture of actionable feedback is enabling team members to ask a well crafted, specific question that focuses on development areas they’ve identified themselves or with their manager. When the focus and scope of the feedback are defined by the recipient, they’re much more likely to internalize and act upon it.

Below are a few tips that Deborah Grayson Riegel highlights in her HRB article How to Solicit Negative Feedback When Your Manager Doesn’t Want to Give It to enable feedback seekers to best craft their requests so that the provider can present an honest and constructive account and the seeker can capitalize on this opportunity for growth:

  • Frame the Request: Help the feedback provider feel more comfortable by setting the tone for the exchange - contextualizing a request not as “tell me something I’m bad at” but instead “what’s one small habit to change” or “what’s one quick way I can add more value to the way our team...” will help make feedback a more regular and friendly occurrence.  
  • Recognize Specific Areas for Improvement: When the feedback requester can reference an area for improvement at the outset, the scope and focus of the feedback are already set and it becomes much easier for the provider to give them advice on how to get better. A question about how a team member can improve their communication skills when managing projects will create a much more actionable opportunity for feedback than a more general request otherwise would.
  • Emphasize Commitment to Growth: In some organizations, feedback is treated as a negative means to call out the failures of other employees when it really can and should be a way to improve performance across a team and achieve common goals. When employees connect their feedback request to their desire to grow and contribute, these exchanges become opportunities for learning and relationship building.
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