Feedback is an essential part of a successful career. Of course, asking for feedback is scary. Who likes to invite the opportunity for someone to tell us we’re doing a bad job?
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In order to improve at work, we need to hear how we are doing at our jobs. Feedback, good or bad, could pave the way for improvement, which might lead to more success and higher salaries.
Unfortunately, just asking for feedback isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get really helpful input. Many managers find it safer to be vague and general, rather than offering real constructive criticism.
So what’s a smart, serious employee to do? You’ve got to take your feedback into your own hands and make the most of it.
Here’s how to do it successfully:
1. Don’t Get Defensive
Don’t go into the meeting prepared to back up your arguments – you are there to listen and absorb the feedback only. If you disagree or don’t understand some of the feedback, ask for an example of the negative behavior, and then paraphrase the complaint back to them so they can see that you understood. Digest it later.
Remember, the person giving you feedback is doing you a favor. They are helping you improve your career. Everyone is busy, and taking time to review your work is them investing in you. Be appreciative and you’ll be more likely to get their input in the future.
2. Be Specific
When asking for feedback, come prepared with a few specific projects that you think you could have done better. What would your boss or peer have done differently? What did they think you did well? Feedback isn’t just about the negative; it can also be about what you should continue to do well.
3. Do the Work
Even the best feedback can’t help if you don’t do something with it. Even if you discover later you don’t like the idea suggested, applying a person’s input shows them that you are open to making changes. Proving that you can listen and implement changes makes someone more likely to continue giving you honest, constructive criticism in the future.
4. Consider the Source
You don’t have to take every suggestion given. If you disagree strongly with a point that is made, go to another mentor and get their perspective (without naming names or complaining, of course). Consult with coworkers and brainstorm alternative methods for approaching a similar situation.
5. Thank the Reviewer
Thanking a person for their time and effort can go a long way. You may not agree entirely with their insight, but it is always courteous to show your appreciation for their time, no matter how much you may be fuming inside.
6. Ask Frequently
If you get good advice from someone, don’t hesitate to continue the conversation.
Getting regular feedback helps you build a relationship with your manager, and helps you garner some insight into your boss’s thoughts too. By talking more often, you’ll learn more about their goals for your team, and what they think is most important, which is valuable information.
7. Stay Confident
When getting feedback, it is sometimes difficult to stay confident in your own abilities. Here’s a person pointing out all of your flaws and telling you what you need to improve upon. But this doesn’t mean you are terrible at your job! You have the job for a reason, after all. Feedback is only meant to push you to be the very best you can be.
Try it Out
This week, send an email to your boss and set up a meeting to get some feedback. Bring a notepad, pay attention, and thank them for their help. You’ll be smarter, happier, and better at your job in no time.
About The Author: Kate Stull is a co-founder and content strategist at popforms, a startup building tools to help enlightened leaders and teams work better together. You can see more of her work on the popular popforms blog, and connect with her on Twitter at @katestull.