How to Ask for Constructive Feedback

Imagine that you were going to an optometrist and you weren’t able to tell them when the lens they applied worked best – do you think they would be able to write a prescription that would actually work well for you?

During your visit to an optometrist’s office you will normally get asked, “can you see it now…. how about now,” by doing this, they are changing lenses to better understand your vision needs, but in order to do this they need to know what isn’t working.

We have all in been in a situation where we needed to know how we were performing Click To Tweet

We have all in been in a situation where we needed to know how we were performing, perhaps it was regarding a project, presentation, and/or handling a customer.

There’s no denying the amount of value one can gain from receiving constructive and real-time feedback, but how do you ask for guidance? If your manager isn’t always able to provide in-the-moment best practices or suggestions, how should you encourage more feedback? Are there colleagues in your company from whom you could seek this feedback?

Start With a Self-Check

Requesting developmental feedback is not an easy task; you need to know what you are asking for first. Before asking your manager, ask yourself what you are feeling. Where could I improve my work by 10%? What are specific examples of where I could improve?

A great way to think about requesting feedback is to imagine your manager is like your optometrist. Imagine that you scheduled an appointment and now you are at your check-up. Before arriving to your appointment, it is a best practice to have an idea of what you would like to discuss. For example, you need a stronger prescription.

As a best practice, when you notice an opportunity for improvement, perform a self-check. This is the time to ask yourself what you think your area of growth is and share your observations with your manager.

Remember to take advice constructively and not personally. Click To Tweet

Just like when you go to an optometrist, you need to describe what you are feeling. Be specific with your observations; walk your manager/teammate through what you felt, steps you took, what actions you saw, and most importantly – ask how you can improve. Trust that your manager will partner with you to guide you to a solution.

This exercise isn’t about highlighting where you are weak — it is about identifying how you can improve yourself as a professional. Remember to take advice constructively and not personally.

The goal is to always ensure that you are taking the steps that work best for you and your situation. So, what are some suggested steps to requesting and receiving developmental guidance in order to successfully have an honest and direct conversation about your professional growth?

5 Steps to Professional Growth

These are the five steps that I have learned from my own professional experiences and in training Reflektive clients on feedback best practices, especially when acknowledge the onus is on the individual for growth:

1. Set time aside to perform a self check: Think about how you’re feeling and what you observed

2. Be clear and specific: Prepare notes that help explain the steps you took or why you felt the decision was necessary

Think about the best time to ask for feedback Click To Tweet

3. Think about the best time to ask: When you notice that you want feedback, take a note for yourself of the items that you would like to discuss with your manager at a later time

Tip: Think about placing time on your manager’s calendar, or something more casual like stepping out to grab coffee. The point is to ensure that you have uninterrupted time and that your manager is able to give you their undivided attention, even if it’s only five minutes.

4. Turn to colleagues: Everyone’s manager is created differently. So if your manager isn’t in the best position to provide you with feedback, identify a colleague who you find to be a great resource and ask them for feedback.

5. Invest in the feedback you received: Take notes on the feedback you’ve received. A great way to edit your notes is to break up the main points by what you should stop doing, what you should continue, and what should start doing. It is important to not take constructive feedback personally, but rather seriously.

Tip: Save these notes for follow-up meetings to highlight the improvements you have made. In case your team has a change of management you can use the notes you saved as a way to communicate what you are working on.