Asking someone for constructive feedback, especially if that person is your team member, can be downright uncomfortable. Think about it. It’s human nature to avoid the opinion of others, especially if we believe that they won’t be favorable. After all, what if people don’t think we’re not good enough or feel like we’re a drain on the company? Do we really want to gain their input? Probably not.
But what if their feedback was helpful?
It’s natural to want to be liked. But seeking feedback is essential if you want to succeed in your career, and there are numerous tips and tricks to help you seek constructive feedback.
But before I tell you how to seek out constructive feedback, let’s start by defining constructive feedback.
Table of Contents
- What Is Constructive Feedback?
- Who Should I Ask for Constructive Feedback?
- How Should I Ask for Constructive Feedback?
- How Do I Get Better at Being Receptive?
- How Can I Put Constructive Feedback Into Action?
- Final Thoughts
What Is Constructive Feedback?
Constructive feedback is a type of feedback designed to help employees improve their performance, reach their goals, and become more successful. It’s not about criticizing someone or finding fault with their work but about helping them to see where they can make changes or improve.
Constructive feedback is also about allowing employees to learn, grow, and develop into stronger employees over time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process, which is why it’s broken down into four essential parts:
- It is positive – Constructive feedback always starts with a positive comment about the employee’s work.
- It is specific – Feedback should always be specific, and it should include examples to support your comments.
- It is actionable – The feedback should provide clear instructions on how the employee can improve their work in the future.
- It is timely – Feedback should be given as soon as possible after the incident.
Constructive feedback helps you grow as a professional and improve your work performance. And when given correctly, it can be immensely helpful in boosting morale and productivity.
Who Should I Ask for Constructive Feedback?
You might think that the best person to ask for constructive feedback is your boss, but that’s not always the case.
Your boss might be too busy or have a different perspective that could limit the usefulness of the feedback you receive. This is why it’s usually better to ask someone familiar with your work but isn’t directly involved in it, such as a team member.
Often, people you work with provide you with the best feedback because they see you in action every day and know you well enough to give specific and helpful suggestions.
How Should I Ask for Constructive Feedback?
It might seem awkward to go up to someone you work with and ask for their opinion of you, but there are a few ways to make it less uncomfortable. One way is to frame the question as seeking advice or help rather than feedback.
For example, you might say, “Can you help me understand what I could do better?” or “What are some things that you think I could work on?” This will make the person feel more relaxed.
It’s also important to be precise when asking for feedback. Suppose you ask someone, “How am I doing?” They might not know how to answer or feel like they have to give you a positive response. Instead, try something like, “Can you give me an example of a time when I excelled in this area and a time when I didn’t do so well?”
This will make it easier for the person to be constructive with their feedback and give you clear examples to work with.
When Is the Best Time to Ask for Feedback?
The best time is when you have enough time to focus on the feedback you’re receiving and make changes.
It’s usually not a good idea to ask for feedback right before an important meeting or presentation because you might not have time to act on the suggestions.
You also want to ensure that the person giving you feedback has enough time to think about what they want to say.
Where Should I Ask?
If you can, it’s best to schedule a time to meet with the person face-to-face or even over Zoom so that you can both be relaxed and focused on the conversation. However, if that’s not possible, a phone call or email will work as well.
The main point is to ask the person in private to feel comfortable being honest with you. Wherever you choose, make sure that you won’t be interrupted and have the person’s full attention. You don’t want them to worry about an upcoming meeting while giving you their feedback or feel like they have to hurry through the conversation.
Shoot them a link to your scheduling App, or pick a specific day and time that works for both of you in advance. Then, send a reminder the day before to make sure that both of you are prepared.
How Do I Get Better at Being Receptive?
Constructive feedback can be challenging to hear, especially if you’re not used to it.
The first step is to try and be more open-minded when you receive feedback. It’s important to remember that the person giving you feedback is trying to help you improve, not point out your flaws.
Another way to become better at receiving feedback is to practice active listening. This means that you pay attention to what the person is saying, ask questions for clarification, and restate what you heard to make sure you understand.
It can also be helpful to take some time to reflect on the feedback you received before responding. This will allow you to process the information and develop a thoughtful response.
Finally, remember to thank the person. This will show that you appreciate their help and are more likely to consider their suggestions.
What If the Feedback Is Unhelpful or Hurtful?
Sometimes, this can happen. But don’t worry. You don’t have to accept everything that is said as truth.
Just because someone gives you feedback doesn’t mean that you have to act on it. You can always ask someone else for a second opinion.
It’s important to remember that seeking feedback is supposed to help you improve, not make you feel bad about yourself. If the person’s comments are hurtful, don’t be afraid to speak up or move on.
There will always be fellow team members that are only looking out for themselves. But don’t let that stop you from seeking feedback from colleagues that you trust. The majority of people want you to succeed.
What If I’m Afraid to Ask?
The key to seeking constructive feedback is to be confident and humble at the same time. You need to let the other person know that you respect their opinion and want to get better.
Here are some ways to increase your courage:
- Visualize yourself receiving helpful feedback.
- Remind yourself that you are not perfect, and that’s ok.
- Think about a time when you received valuable feedback.
- Focus on your end goal and how seeking feedback will help you achieve it.
- Breathe and relax.
How Can I Put Constructive Feedback Into Action?
Once you’ve identified the areas that you want to work on, come up with a plan of action for how you’re going to improve. This could involve setting specific goals, seeking help from others, or practicing more.
If you want to put constructive feedback into action, it’s essential to gain accountability, set measurable goals, and give yourself time to reach your potential.
Here are eight tips to get you started:
- Ask a friend or colleague to help you stay on track.
- Make a timeline with specific objectives that you want to achieve.
- Set up periodic check-ins to track your progress.
- Join or create a study group.
- Take an online course or participate in webinars related to your goals.
- Find a mentor who can help you reach your potential.
- Read books or articles related to your goals.
- Take some time for yourself to relax and recharge.
Constructive feedback is an essential part of self-improvement, but it’s not always easy to receive or put into action. By following the tips above, you can seek and use constructive feedback that is less daunting and more beneficial for your career development.
Remember, the goal is to grow and become the best version of yourself––and constructive feedback will help get you there.
Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com
|||^||Entrepreneur: Employee Feedback Is Only Effective If It’s Done Right. Here’s How to Make Sure It Lands|
|||^||Harvard Business Review: How to Ask for Feedback That Will Actually Help You|
|||^||NPR: Receiving Feedback Doesn’t Have To Be Scary. Here’s How You Can Get Most Out Of It|