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Why You Should Ask For Feedback At Work & How

by Crystal Wan Ying. |

While the above quote sounds cheesy, it is very true. Receiving feedback is never easy, regardless of which source it comes from. Listening to someone pointing out your shortcomings is uncomfortable, could stir up self-doubt, increase anxiety levels and so on.

On the flip side, a lack of feedback is dangerous! It's like trying to drive a car with no speedometer, cooking for customers at a restaurant without tasting your food, or a blind-folded archer firing off arrows randomly and hoping that they might somehow hit a target. The point is that feedback is essential to success and the better you get at asking for it, the higher your chances of improving and achieving your goals are.

However, many companies and organizations do not train their employees on the right way to give feedback, ask for it, receive it, and what to do with it. This results in employees receiving vague feedback, having a negative perception towards receiving criticism, not knowing how to improve their performances and ultimately feedback might do more harm than good at times.

In contrast, when an employee understands how to ask for feedback and how to receive it in the right manner, this could result in positive change, an improvement in performance, the overcoming of weaknesses, and the striving to become a better version of themselves. Of course, feedback can come from any party and there are different ways to proactively seek it out from different parties.

From your boss:

Don't be afraid to ask for an appointment with your boss and explain to him or her that you would like to receive feedback in order to try and improve your work performance and exceed expectations. 15 to 20 minutes should be about the ideal length of time to be able to receive feedback from your boss without taking too much time away from other tasks. The appointment should also only be between you and your boss unless they specify that someone else is going to sit in. But whatever you do, do not ambush your boss at unexpected times such as lunch, at a company party, or even in the toilet!

Find an opportune time to talk to your boss and there is a higher chance that they will be open and willing to give you honest feedback. Also, remember to be specific when asking about areas and ways in which you can improve. Take notes in order to be able to reflect on the feedback later at your own pace.

After the session, be proactive in implementing the suggestions given — the goal is to be able to see a positive change in yourself, which could then contribute to the larger enterprise. Ultimately, seeking feedback should be an ongoing process, so try to schedule times to ask for it at regular periods of time such as at the end of a project, at the end of a month, or at the end of every week.

Besides your boss, there are other people in your company or around you that could seek constructive criticism from such as your colleagues. It should be noted that there are different ways to seek feedback from different parties.

From your colleagues:

Going around to every individual you interact with on a daily basis to ask for feedback may not be productive, so identify the colleagues you work with on a regular basis before preparing specific questions to ask them. While preparing the questions, you have to keep in mind the purpose of asking for feedback from the person. Is it to improve your relationship with the person? To find out how to be more efficient in your work? Ask specific questions related to the areas you wish to improve on as open-ended questions tend to be ineffective. Colleagues and team members are some of the best people to ask for feedback, as they are able to observe you regularly and give feedback without worrying about office hierarchy.

It is important to listen attentively to someone who is giving you feedback and respond actively to show them you are paying attention to them. Being able to not take offence when criticised and instead understand that your colleague is doing so in order for you to be able to grow and improve will also encourage your fellow worker to be authentic and honest when giving you feedback.

From your clients:

Approaching clients for feedback has to be done in the right manner. Often times, businesses put out statements such as ‘feel free to let me know what you think!’ with hopes of receiving feedback from their customers. This method does not get to the point and customers usually do not feel encouraged to respond. Instead, asking a more direct question regarding a customer’s experience with your business or service such as, “how did you feel about the customer service?” would likely receive more responses. Reaching out to customers directly through email, social media or even phone calls would also be more effective than asking them to fill out a form or online survey most of the time. For example, Facebook and Instagram have tools such as polls and surveys which could gather feedback from customers without causing them much inconvenience.

In conclusion, receiving feedback is often a stressful experience, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. So, do not be afraid to proactively seek it whenever you feel stuck or in need of a breakthrough at work. The process will make you happier and more productive at work, as you'll be seeking to constantly improve and this could lead to more opportunities for your boss to give you tasks and responsibilities that will test your skills and require you to grow. At the end of the day, feedback is a valuable tool and when used correctly can help build a strong team of people where its members feel confident about sharing their ideas, leading to greater trust within your team — and ultimately, a stronger and better business.

You can also learn more about the writer on Instagram.

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