When you received your last performance review, did you feel threatened… or motivated?
If feedback could be provided without triggering the threat response, it could occur far more often.
That’s the tantalizing place where last month’s article left off.
Research by the NeuroLeadership Institute also found that if feedback is asked for rather than given, it does not trigger a threat response. When you ask for feedback, the quality of conversations increases. And when both sides no longer fear feedback conversations, they can occur more frequently, so people get the information they need, when they need it, in a more motivating way.
The best way to start is by asking your manager for feedback. This works well for both the asker and the giver.
How to Ask for Feedback
Don’t ask your manager, “How am I doing?” The response will probably be, “Fine” – and that doesn’t help much. Instead, choose something you have worked on recently and ask, “What do you think worked well in …….?” After receiving an answer, then ask, “What do you think would work better next time?”
The ideal approach is to gather multiple points of view from a diverse set of people, not just those who are likely to agree with us. Whether a manager, a peer, a direct report, or even a client, if they work with us, they have a valuable point of view to share. Top-ranked leaders are also at the top in asking for feedback. (See Top Ranked Leaders Know This Secret: Ask for Feedback, Forbes magazine January 2015, below.)
Asking often allows you to improve quickly, permitting a quick course correction, rather than allowing weeks or months to go by without having learned from others’ viewpoints. Timing can also increase the odds the feedback we receive is accurate, as individuals have a better memory for events that happened recently.
In the long term, asking often creates a regular routine in seeking feedback which is what builds a behaviour into a habit. Making a habit out of feedback can decrease the stress associated with both receiving and giving. The less stressful the experiences, the more likely we will be motivated to engage in it frequently, and the more likely it becomes a habit.
If you want to be the best you can be, start asking your manager for specific feedback often. As you gain confidence, ask your peers, your direct reports, and even your clients for their views on what they appreciate about your work and what you might do better. Then teach your direct reports to ask you for specific feedback often.
You will be amazed at the increased engagement and productivity around you. Top-ranked leaders have been doing this for years.