Whatever your thoughts on Bill Gates, we probably all know that feedback is essential for learning and improving our skills and performance. If we think back to the times in which we have probably improved the most, it most likely is when we got some constructive feedback that felt both reassuring and useful… Feedback that is constructive – but above all honest so we can learn and adapt, is the best. If we think back to that time, it was the kind of feedback that enabled us to really think more deeply about how we can use the insights we were given to identify our strengths and areas for improvement. For any personal and organisational development, giving and receiving feedback in the workplace is essential.
Asking for feedback is hard
Even though we know it is useful, we are often reluctant to seek out feedback. Probably just in case we get some unpleasant, brutally and overly personal feedback – which we all hate (even the people who say they like to be blunt hate it). We probably all have had at least one of those experiences and it can be damaging to our confidence.
However, if we were brave enough to ask for feedback there is a wealth of good stuff that can come from it we can then apply to our development. Setting a goal to get into the feedback habit, and then setting time aside to ask for constructive feedback ideally on a regular basis – will really enable us to progress. It can be from our manager, peers, or customers – but also friends too to make it more 360-degrees. A 360-degree feedback being where you ask a wider number of people to offer feedback on you. There’s some great thinking in the coaching space that if you start something like your own personal 360-degrees feedback circle – you can really work on some common themes that come up from your feedback.
The benefits of personal 360-degree feedback could include valuable information we can use for our career development or more broadly on how we can develop in our job. It could just be as simple as having an increased self-awareness about the areas we need to work on. I did a personal 360-degree on how I communicate in meetings, and I learned my voice drops a lot – almost to a whisper. A bit strange! But then knowing that I made myself speak louder and with more confidence.
Feedback can also help you recognise your achievements and value at work and through my 360 I also learned some great things that people thought of me – which helped me work out how to progress with a better perspective. Research shows that clarity and feedback can also reduce uncertainty, confusion, and stress at work, which can affect our mood and motivation.
Having a feedback culture in place in an organisation also helps leaders to shift company culture, provides nuanced perspectives to help conquer bias in the workplace, fosters teamwork across departments, and helps employees feel more appreciated and recognised.
Another side benefit of developing a feedback habit is that it improves our own communication skills. Not only feedback can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. Feedback can help you communicate better and build relationships. By asking for feedback, you can show that you value other people’s opinions and perspectives. By giving feedback, you can show that you care about other people’s work and well-being.
I think that different strategies may work better for different people and situations in how or who they go about seeking feedback. There is no one-size-fits-all solution and for some a 360-degree might feel too much and a trusted one-to-one with a manager or colleague might be ideal. However, in general, I think that asking for clarity and soliciting feedback are very effective strategies for us all, because they can help us understand our role better, and the expectations others have, and enable us to perform better. Not least it also shows our initiative and willingness to learn and improve.
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Blog by Dr Naeema Pasha