The key to being awesome: feedback

Last week I was talking with one of my friends. “I’m going to get fired, I know for sure I am delivering below what they had hoped” he said.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard these kinds of fears voiced. I encouraged him, as I am now encouraging you, to SEEK FEEDBACK. There is no need to live with insecurity. Everyone should do this, as it is valuable information about ourselves that we can use to self-improve. Doing this regularly is even better! There is no need to wait a year for your annual appraisal: by getting quicker, regular feedback we learn faster. With this in mind, please do take a minute to give me feedback on this blog, either in the public comments, or privately here:

How can I get feedback?

Often, feedback comes in an annual appraisal with your boss. You will likely also be getting some kind of feedback from your close friends (e.g. “it is really annoying when you turn up late Harry.”) In this post I’ll outline some well-established methods for getting professional feedback.

Pick some people whom you value the opinion of. This probably will be people from work, but may include some friends or family. A broad variety of perspectives and relationships will help you get a fuller picture.

Now there are many different ways I’ve seen for gathering this kind of feedback.

Start, Stop, Continue

This is arguably the simplest for a beginner: simply email some people asking them:

  • What should I start doing?
  • What should I stop doing?
  • What should I continue doing?

They’ll reply with some things, and maybe you’ll want to follow up with a one-on-one discussion to check your understanding on some of the points.

360 feedback

You can do this as “Start, Stop, Continue” or as a custom SurveyMonkey form with some traits you’d like particular feedback on. The “360” element of this is that you should ensure you ask not just your manager, but also your direct reports and other peers. The top link on google when I looked was this example. It is very quantitative and trackable if you do it regularly. I would only recommend this particular site if you have a direction you want to develop in though, as it restricts ability to comment on some things, like say whether they’d really appreciate it if you used some more effective deodorant.

Johari Window

This is a personality mapping test, where you can see how different people see you compared to your self-perception. I found this quite interesting and surprising. This is much more of a long-term improvement and measurement exercise, and again you won’t get specific feedback on performance, etc. in this. Try it out here.

A conversation

This is my favourite. It is best to give the other person time to prepare and get their thoughts in order about the feedback they’d like to give you. Keep it safe by using a start-stop-continue method or other framework if you prefer. If you have particular questions, you can ask them: again preparing this beforehand is great, but don’t hide behind a piece of paper. Ideally you’d both give one another feedback, since this is a great trust-building mechanism and you can both benefit!

Other methods

There are many other ways to get feedback. Let me know if you have another favourite in the comments below.

How should I take it?

Receiving feedback can be hard, especially if it feels critical. Remember this is an opportunity for you to grow, and these people are being nice enough to help you. If you take this with a developmentally-focused, rather than self-critical, mindset, then you’re on to a winner.


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