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How to Get Feedback > When to Ask for It

When to Ask for It

  1. Ask after you have identified your development goals. Having a clear idea of your goals, of course, is of primary importance. You will find it much more difficult to ask for feedback if your goals are unfocused and diffuse. You may also find yourself using up your co-workers’ goodwill because you are not clear about what you want. So this may be a good place to look at how you can focus on your goals to make feedback requests clear.

    If you have just undergone a developmental experience, such as a performance appraisal, an executive development program, or an assessment by means of a 360-degree instrument, you should have a good idea of what your goals are. If you have just gone through a career transition, or have been faced with new challenges in your present job, you should also have fresh ideas on new skills and perspectives you want and need to develop.

    Which one are you going to try first? Pick one—one that you want to work on immediately and that will yield a payoff for you and the organization. A significant goal will require a change in your behavior, and changing your behavior is hard work. Start with just one goal; you’ll find, as with anything, it’s easiest to fulfill the process by concentrating on one thing at a time.

    Which one? That you need to create more effective work teams? That you must be less abrasive with people? That you need to work on being more strategic?

    Select one goal that you want to focus upon and get feedback on. Write it down, in as much detail as possible.

    Compare the goal you have just written with one that Jan, a senior-level manager at a manufacturing company, has set for herself. Jan has recently returned from a development program where she received feedback that she needs to work on her ability to create successful work teams. Here is the goal Jan wants to achieve in the next six months:

    “I will improve my effectiveness in leading a work team by concentrating on the following two goals. I will learn to reserve judgment on others’ ideas by making sure that my initial response is not a negative one. Additionally, I will ask for input from the group before decisions are made. I will ask one of my peers, Derrick, who is involved in at least two teams with me, to give me feedback and help me monitor my progress. I will achieve these goals by August 1—six months from now.”

  2. Ask daily. The more often you receive feedback, the more often you can put your goals into action. Any change you make in your behavior needs to be woven into the fabric of your daily routine.

There are times you won’t have to ask. The more you seek feedback, the more likely people will come to you with their perceptions. If you can afford to take the time, listen to them carefully. If you cannot afford the time at that moment, set a brief appointment with them for later.



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