I was chatting with a friend a few weeks back and he was telling me that he had been asked by his manager to approach some colleagues and get some 360 degree feedback. I happened to catch him during this process and he was not in a good place. His first two conversations had been less than constructive and he was feeling disillusioned. When I enquired what had happened, two things became apparent to me; firstly he had never been taught how to ask for feedback and secondly he had never been taught how to receive feedback.
The conversation got me thinking about feedback – we rely on it to ensure our work is of the highest quality and that we continue to grow both personally and professionally. But there is something of an art to asking for and receiving feedback. Failing to adequately equip people for the process of feedback (be it formal or informal) risks leaving them feeling defeated, disillusioned and confused and can create conflict and discomfort in the workplace.
So, what can we do to make the process constructive rather than destructive?
When having a conversation about your performance go armed with questions to keep the conversation on track and productive. Have your questions set out on a form ready to note comments under each – this way you ensure the feedback is balanced, rather than focusing only on the ‘what we need to do better’ which is where we tend to focus if not managed.
SOME GOOD QUESTIONS TO ASK ARE:
What am I doing well?
What could I do more of and why?
What could I do less of and why?
What could I do better and how could I improve?
These are simple questions, but they do ensure that not only do you get the feedback but that it is balanced and that you understand what you can do differently in future.
In terms of how you receive the feedback bear in mind that not everyone is good at giving feedback – some people find it difficult and can come across as direct and tactless as a result of their discomfort. It is important to receive the feedback graciously – the intention of the process is to help you to grow.
It is OK to disagree with the feedback someone gives you, but your role in the process is to take the feedback and consider it before dismissing anything that is said to you. Consider why the person might have this view and what you can do in future to correct their perspective if you feel that it is misinformed. Remember 360 degree feedback is a conversation and you have the right to fully understand what is being suggested to you and why.