Getting feedback at work is a great way to learn about how others view your performance and (hopefully) get tangible advice on improving at work. But do you know how to ask for feedback that’s helpful and constructive? This guide will show you who, what, why, and how to ask for feedback and what to do after you’ve received it. We’ll cover:
- Why You Should Ask for Feedback at Work
- How to Ask for Feedback
- What to Do After You Ask for Feedback
- Asking for Feedback at Work: The Bottom Line
Why You Should Ask for Feedback at Work
Asking for feedback at work can be intimidating — so why ask for feedback at all? Brooks E. Scott, executive coach and interpersonal communications expert, says that asking for feedback “shows that you’re the type of person who wants to learn and grow.”
Asking for feedback can strengthen your relationship with your manager or coworker and prove to them you’re a motivated, dedicated employee. This perception is crucial when it comes to work opportunities and promotions. Who will they call on to take on an exciting project or recommend for a position? The person who’s driven and always looking to improve.
“Being open to feedback and initiating conversations with leadership will solidify trust and can be a catalyst for career advancement,” Logan Mallory, VP of marketing at employee recognition software company Motivosity, says.
Feedback can also positively impact your internal motivation, Rod McDermott, CEO and co-founder of Activate 180, an executive coach firm, says. Getting feedback that helps you succeed in your role can empower you to take charge at work and even enjoy your job more.
“When you work for the right company and seek consistent feedback, it helps you create a meaningful career path,” he says. “This allows you to create a life fueled by passion and intention while simultaneously avoiding a position that will lead to burnout.”
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How to Ask for Feedback
When and Who to Ask
There’s no need to wait until your performance review to ask for feedback at work. Instead, asking for feedback regularly can help you in your day-to-day work and ensure you progress throughout the year.
Your manager is one of many people you work with who can give you feedback. If you’re working closely with someone, presenting to a different team, or communicating with a stakeholder for the first time, don’t hesitate to ask them for feedback, too! Feedback from anyone you work with is valuable, even if they’re not directly responsible for your development.
There’s no need to ask for a formal feedback session to get feedback (unless you’d like one!). Instead, you can just ask the person you’d like feedback from targeted questions about your performance. The type of feedback you get will heavily depend on the questions you ask. Here are some example questions depending on the situation and depth of feedback you’re looking for.
Questions to Ask Your Manager in a Performance Review
In these meetings, McDermott recommends asking big-picture questions that focus on your role and the company strategy, like:
- What changes would you’d like to see at the company that I could support?
- Reflecting on my current term at this company, what are some reasons others have stayed long-term in this position to build their careers? Have there been opportunities for advancement?
- Based on my current skill set, how do you think somebody like me fits in at the company long-term? Where can I improve?
- Based on my current skill set, what strengths make me a suitable fit to advance in this role? Where can I improve?
These questions are great opportunities for you to understand what career advancement looks like at your company. Then, you’ll plant the seed in your manager’s mind of how you can develop and grow to fit company needs.
Questions to Ask After a Presentation or Large Project
When requesting feedback about a presentation, don’t just ask,”‘How do you think I did?'” Scott says. “It’s too broad, and you’ll likely get a useless response like, ‘I think it went really well!’ Instead, ask, ‘What was the least powerful part of my presentation?’ Or, ‘During the closing section of my presentation, specifically the last 10 minutes, what one thing would have made the closing even stronger?'”
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Getting specific about something you’ve worked on and asking for actionable ways to improve will help you get constructive feedback versus a generic reaction.
“You’ll get more targeted feedback that can help direct your actions and provide great insight for your next projects,” Mallory says.
Questions to Ask a Coworker or Potential Mentor
When asking for general feedback from someone who’s not your manager, you may focus less on general company strategy. Instead, you might want to ask about your specific performance, how you collaborate, and your working relationship as a whole. Yuletta Pringle, SHRM-CP, SHRM HR knowledge advisor, recommends asking questions like:
- Do you have any examples of times you thought I’ve worked well with you?
- What areas could I improve upon?
- Is there training or education you’d recommend I take?
What to Do After You Ask for Feedback at Work
Feedback doesn’t end once it’s given to you — after you’ve asked, it’s time to implement it.
“Follow up with next steps,” Mallory says. “Once you’ve got an idea, a plan, and a path, check in with the person who gave you feedback to ask their thoughts on your new approach. This will (1) show that you listened and applied their feedback, and (2) speeds up your increase in performance because you’ll have a targeted approach, rather than shots in the dark.”
Scott agrees, saying it’s better to take a “preemptive approach” and ask the person to watch for how you’ve implemented the feedback before they view your work.
For example, Scott recommends asking, “‘Can you pay close attention to the first 10 minutes of my presentation and let me know the things that I did well to engage the audience and the things that I did that were not as effective?'”
“This helps chunk down the time your evaluator will have to pay attention through the lens of feedback and still give that person a chance to participate and listen to the presentation from an operational standpoint,” he says.
Asking for Feedback at Work: The Bottom Line
If you ask the right questions and ask often, feedback can be a helpful tool to build workplace relationships and create opportunities for advancement.
“Having formal conversations about work performance, career direction, and professional development is a great way to build a better relationship with your manager or mentor (or both), hear about their experience in the industry, and get a better understanding of what you want out of your career in the long run,” Mallory says.
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