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How to Ask for (Effective) Feedback

You are working very hard and doing great at your job, right? What if your boss disagrees with your self-assessment?  To know what your supervisor thinks, needs, and wants from your performance, you need to ask for feedback.  However, the process of asking, receiving, and acting upon feedback can be a daunting process.  That’s why […]

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You are working very hard and doing great at your job, right?

What if your boss disagrees with your self-assessment? 

To know what your supervisor thinks, needs, and wants from your performance, you need to ask for feedback. 

However, the process of asking, receiving, and acting upon feedback can be a daunting process. 

That’s why many professionals totally overlook this valuable tool for career growth. 

By learning how to ask for feedback and adopting a few strategies for working on it, you’ll have better chances at keeping your boss happy and climbing the career ladder. 

Before the Meeting

Let’s begin with preparing to ask for feedback.

Schedule the meeting. 

Not all feedback is the same. 

On-the-fly feedback from leadership is almost always positive or reactive.

It’s way different from the feedback you get when you schedule a time to meet with a senior leader and discuss your performance.

First, identify the right person you should ask for feedback at work. Usually, it would be the senior leader who works most closely with you. 

You can also consider seeking feedback from your other close colleagues to get multiple perspectives. 

Once you have identified whom to ask, set up a formal meeting. 

You can directly request a meeting in person, or you can send them an email. 

Here’s how to ask for feedback in an email: 

“Hi John, 

As part of my regular self-evaluation practice, I would love to have your feedback on my performance. 

As you are my manager and we have been working together for some time, I believe your honest feedback would be valuable for my professional progress. 

Please let me know a time that would be most suitable for you to meet. 

I will be eagerly looking forward to our meeting.” 

By sending an email to ask for feedback, you give your supervisor the chance to schedule a time that works best for them!

Request honest feedback.

Once you know your boss will free up some time for a constructive feedback session, it’s time to make them believe that you are serious about getting honest feedback.

In your email or during the meeting, mention that you appreciate their feedback and want to work on whatever improvements they suggest. 

Also, let them know that they can be candid without any hesitation. Assure them that their honesty would really help your progress. 

Prepare your questions.

In advance, brainstorm and prepare any questions you can ask your boss during the meeting. 

Show them that you care about their opinion and the company’s progress.

Here are a few sample feedback questions you can tailor according to your situation:  

  • What changes would you like to see in me that would help the team and the company?
  • What areas of my overall performance do I need to improve?
  • How can I do a certain task that would be more productive?
  • How would you evaluate my handling of the ABC project?
  • Was my presentation at the last board meeting up to the mark?
  • What kind of skills or practices can I adopt to better serve the company? 

You can also ask quantitative questions, such as, “On a scale of one to ten, how would you evaluate my communications skills?”  

Craft the above questions to fit your job responsibilities and career. 

During the Meeting

Your meeting is scheduled, and your questions are ready! 

Here are some critical points to keep in mind during the meeting. 

Don’t be defensive! 

Acceptance is key here. 

As you seek honest feedback, you are also responsible for making your supervisor feel relaxed and open. 

At no stage of the meeting can you come across as defensive. Stay positive and maintain an open demeanor as you listen. 

Try not to respond to any feedback right away. If you grow defensive at any point, they are unlikely to remain forthright with their input. 

Accept the feedback.

No matter what you get, accept it. 

Remember, however, that it is one person’s opinion or view of your performance. So, be careful about not taking anything too personally. 

Whatever feedback you get, objectively analyze it, looking for actionable insights you can incorporate into your daily responsibilities. 

If any aspect of the feedback seems significant, confusing, or sensitive, consider scheduling another meeting to dig deeper. 

Ask questions! 

At all times during the meeting, stay alert and focused so you can ask follow-up questions based on their feedback. 

If they point out a particular task they found problems with, ask right away for suggestions. 

If they point out a possible solution to a problem, ask how they or others in the organization might help you with the solution. 

If, at any point, you are not getting a clear picture of what they are trying to say, request them to clarify or elaborate. 

Take notes.

Taking notes with a pen and paper is a great way to show that you are serious about the feedback session.

However, while taking notes, it’s easy to lose track of what someone is saying if you are not an expert note taker. 

You don’t want to miss out on what they are saying while jotting down their responses. 

Note down important points and key phrases to review later. 

After the Meeting

Here are a few more things you can do after your meeting: 

Send a thank you.

All the questions have been asked and answered.

You also have expressed how much you appreciated their time and consideration. 

However, it’s a great practice to send a separate thank you email within 24 hours of your meeting. 

Here’s a sample email: 

“Hi John, 

It was kind of you to give me your time and offer your guidance and feedback. 

Your suggestions were truly helpful, and I appreciate your input. 

In the coming days, I will be working on your suggestions and trying to incorporate them into my daily work routines. 

I look forward to reviewing this with you in the near future.

Thank you again.”

As always, keep your emails short, simple, and to the point. 

Keep the conversation going.

Notice how the sample email above started laying the foundation for a continuous conversation by mentioning another meeting. 

It indicates that you are aware that asking for feedback at work is a continuing process. 

Even minor improvements take time to become permanent. 

Whenever you get a chance, share updates on how things are going and offer specific examples of how you have adopted their feedback and suggestions. 

This process will have a lasting impact, as the leadership will understand how serious you are about your job. 

Make the changes!

Of course, all this would mean nothing if you do not actually implement their suggestions as part of the feedback process. 

After proper contemplation on the feedback received, show your commitment by working to make concrete changes. 

These proactive techniques will convey your passion for growth and your dedication to serving the company. 

Key Takeaways

Engaging in an active feedback loop with your leadership can be challenging, but it has many benefits. 

Asking for feedback and demonstrating a willingness to change shows your seriousness and sincerity. 

Also, by implementing the suggestions, you automatically do better at your job. All this goes a long way in fast-tracking your career growth. 

Perhaps you’ve sought constructive feedback and realized you cannot continue to grow and thrive in your current environment.

If this is the case, consider hiring a career coach to help you develop an effective job search strategy.

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