Getting high-quality, empowering feedback on your behaviour, performance and potential from your manager, colleagues and other key stakeholders is essential to improve your performance and successfully advance your career. It has significant benefits, including:

  • Building self-awareness by enabling you to see how others perceive your effectiveness and impact.
  • Uncovering ‘blind spots’ or behaviours and attitudes that others see, but you are unaware of.
  • Providing ideas and suggestions for improvement and your career development, including views on specific talents and areas of potential for you to explore.
  • Clarifying your reputation and ‘brand’ (i.e., the way you are regarded by others) in the team and organization.
  • Pinpointing and magnifying areas of standout strength that you can build on to accelerate your career and create more value for your employer.

To get a comprehensive and balanced picture of how you are performing and ideas for improvement, it is important to invite feedback from key stakeholders beyond your manager, including colleagues within and outside your team, your customers, other superiors, suppliers, and other people you interact with regularly.

Below are three tips that will help you get better feedback that can accelerate your results, learning and career progression. 

Ask specific questions

Avoid asking general questions such as “Can you give me some feedback?” or “How do you think I’m doing?”

Ask specific questions, ideally directly after the performance event. Effective questions include:

  • What can I do more of, less of and differently?
  • What did I do well? How can I improve?
  • What did you like most about this? And least?
  • What would you suggest I try next time? Anything else?
  • How am I coming across? How can I improve my impact?
  • How do you see my greatest strengths? How can I take these to the next level?
  • When have you seen me at my best? What was I doing in that situation that really stood out for you?
  • What 3 words/adjectives come to mind when you think about my strengths?
  • On a scale of 1-10 (with “1” being highly effective), how would you rate my effectiveness at ….(specific task or skill area)? Have you got any ideas or recommendations to help me strengthen my performance/results?

You probably already receive feedback from your manager. However, it if it is absent, too general, or not helpful, ask your manager for feedback and tell them the type of feedback that would be most helpful for you. Send them some of the questions above in advance of your next check-in and invite them to respond to these when you meet. Do the same with other stakeholders to ensure you receive higher-quality feedback.

Keep an open mind

Don’t take critical feedback too personally or get defensive. Instead, listen with an open mind. Ask questions to clarify anything you don’t understand. Remember that you are free to choose how you respond to the feedback. Your choices include acting on the feedback, taking time to reflect on it, or seeking additional feedback. See all feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Express gratitude

Remember that giving feedback (especially constructive feedback) is not easy, even for experienced managers. It is therefore important to thank people for their feedback, even when it’s hard to hear or isn’t communicated well. Tell people what you value most about their feedback. If you improve because of their feedback, share your progress with them. This will build trust and open opportunities for more feedback.

Employees I speak to are often disappointed by the amount and quality of feedback they receive. However, this is typically because they rely too much on one person – their manager – to provide regular and constructive feedback. If you want frequent and empowering feedback, you need to be more proactive. Take matters into your own hands and build into your flow of work a self-mastery habit of inviting feedback from multiple stakeholders, as well as your manager.

About the Author

James is a leadership and talent consultant, business psychologist, and executive coach. He has over 25 years’ experience working with leaders, teams, and organizations to optimize their talent, performance, and future success.

Before moving into consulting, James held corporate leadership roles in People and Talent Management in the UK and abroad with companies such as Yahoo! and Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals. Since moving into talent consulting and assessment design, he has supported leaders and teams globally across many sectors and geographies. Clients he has worked with include Allen & Overy, Commvault, Equinor, Graze, LVMH, Facebook, GSK, Hilton, John Lewis, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, NHS, Oracle, Sainsbury's, Swiss Re, Tesco, WSP and Yahoo! James has founded and run several ventures, including Strengthscope®, an international strengths assessment and development business, that he sold in 2018.

James has a Master’s in Organizational Psychology, an MBA, and an Advanced Diploma in Executive Coaching. He is a regular writer and speaker on talent assessment and development, leadership, and the future of work.