Estimated reading time: 2 mins
We all need feedback, at some point in our working life. We don’t know it all (and if you believe you do, then this post is probably not for you.)
One of the best ways to get informal feedback is to ask your colleagues for it. Assuming that your colleagues are friendly and it’s a place of psychological safety for you. Co-workers can help you course correct without the formality of development plans and written objectives from HR. Having said that, when you receive feedback from your co-workers, you must also be prepared to a) listen and accept the feedback; and b) set yourself goals to make any suggested behavioural changes. If you don’t bother to follow through, then your colleagues are going to wonder why they bothered giving you the feedback, and probably will never do it again (I know I wouldn’t)
I have three questions that I think are the simplest, most awesome set of questions for asking for feedback. For me, they’ve stood the test of time of throughout my career. I’ve added to them, changed them, then gone back to the originals – because they rock. You can ask these same questions to anybody that has experienced you in a work context, no matter what their seniority is.
Here they are:
- What should I continue to do?
This question is perfect for discovering what your colleagues think you do well and what you do that provides value. By answering this question, your colleagues are telling you ‘you are great at…’ This could be something functional, like a task, but answers are more likely to be behavioural.
- What should I stop doing?
When you ask this question, you’re asking your colleagues what you do that adds no value, or causes problems. Perhaps irritation. The answers might be something to do with a habit of yours. Answers to this question will probably be more difficult to hear than the first one, so be prepared for surprises. It’s important to remember that you’ve asked the question, so expect an honest answer.
- What should I start to do?
Do you want to discover the opportunities you’re currently missing? Then this question will give you just that. I am certain that there are things you could be doing that you’re not doing, because you don’t know what you don’t know. Now you will find out. This question totally rocks because you’ll learn something from other people that will help you improve your performance and the value you deliver.
The Effect of Bias
You’re asking your colleagues these questions – who are human beings. All humans have bias. Their biases based on their experience, their knowledge, their prejudices, and their desires. So don’t be surprised if you hear biased answers – possibly conflicting answers.
You don’t have to address every bit of feedback you receive. Your job is to pick through the feedback you receive to find the info that is going to help you fix problems, and improve.
Whatever you choose from the feedback to actor upon, it’s important to thank your colleagues for what is essentially a gift.