How To Effectively Seek Feedback

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A willingness to seek input and feedback from others, on your ideas, on your decisions, or on your management and communication style, is an important way to grow in your leadership ability and stand out as an effective leader. Seeking feedback accomplishes the following:

  • It signals a willingness for growth

  • It provides you with actionable ways to improve your leadership skills

  • You gain relevant details to support you in better decision making

  • It builds trust and inspires engagement

There is an art to seeking feedback effectively, which includes the following:

1. Be clear on your intention in seeking the feedback.

Examples:

  • My intent is to improve how I connect with team members (or clients, or suppliers).

  • My goal is to better engage people during meetings.

  • I’m working on improving how I foster a culture of shared accountability.

2. Ask clear questions to guide the feedback giver and ensure you receive useful information.

Examples:

  • What am I doing well that supports highly productive and engaging meetings?

  • What am I doing that helps or hinders the team in being their best?

  • How might I improve on that?

  • What do I do well that supports us in goal achievement?

  • What am I doing that serves the team well?

  • What am I doing that doesn’t serve the team well?

3. Remember that you are not seeking approval.

  • You are seeking information that will help illuminate your blindspots.

  • You are gathering alternative perspectives to help you in decision making.

  • You are seeking information on what to do more of and what to do less of in your leadership.

  • You are looking for areas on which to focus towards advancing your growth and career.

Radiate openness and a sincere desire to learn. You should be prepared to hear some hard truths and you should avoid being dismissive or trying to defend yourself. Let curiosity be your guide. Let learning and growth be your goal.

4. What if feedback surprises you?

  • Breathe and remember the feedback giver is providing feedback at your request, and the goal is to support you in your growth. All feedback is good feedback, though not necessarily feedback you need to take action on.

  • Be curious and ask clarifying questions, such as:

    • Can you say more about that?

    • Can you provide specific examples?

    • What do you think has people feeling that way?

    • Could there possibly be a misunderstanding? If so, what may be causing that?

    • What might be contributing to that perception?

    • What do you think would mitigate that?

5. Thank your feedback giver and acknowledge their perspective or honesty.

For example:

  • Thank you for this feedback. You’ve provided me new information to consider towards my goal of…

  • I appreciate your willingness to share that with me. I will take this into consideration.

6. Consider the feedback giver.

  • What might be their possible agenda; what influences their perspectives?

  • What are their values and how do their values align with yours?

  • How does this inform you of the quality of the feedback?

7. Consider how you will take action on the feedback provided.

  • Do you need more information or another perspective?

  • What surprised you? What parts of the feedback are you resisting? What is possible if you honestly own that feedback and use it for positive growth?

  • Do you need support in making sense of or implementing the feedback?

  • What is your plan of action? Using feedback for growth is your goal; plus, it is important for people to actually see you acting on feedback.

Seeking feedback does not have to be approached formally. You will likely find you elicit better information when you take an informal approach, such as stopping a team member after a group meeting and asking what would have made the meeting better or how well they think you did in engaging ideas from each person, or having a coffee break with someone to seek their input on an idea or on your leadership style.

It can be daunting asking for feedback, especially when it is regarding how you are performing, but the net benefits make it a worthwhile strategy. You will gain useful insight into how you can strengthen your leadership, and you will create an environment of open dialogue where people support each other and hold each other accountable.