Starting a new job can be daunting, especially when you are surrounded by more experienced colleagues who seem to know exactly what they are doing. But do not worry, there is one habit can help build your career and boost your confidence: asking for feedback.
There is no one typical workplace. They all have their own individual styles and approaches. This is down to the people employed as much as it is the systems and processes in place. But these is no denying that anyone coming into a new workplace can feel elements of doubt.
This is the same for more senior appointments but especially those earlier in their careers, especially if a move represents a promotion or, for example, entering a new industry.
Why feedback is critical
However, some leadership teams now complain that newer entrants are too protected. That a non-critical culture has evolved which means that some team members are not as sharp as they should be. I don’t believe that this is the case for all organisations but for some that non-critical approach means that feedback is dulled and individuals can be isolated from challenge. This does no-one any good. The individual cannot develop the skills they need to succeed and the organisation could be left with team members who are not fully equipped to succeed.
We all need feedback on our work, our approach and the future shape of our careers. The habit we all to get into is to ask for feedback.
Constructive feedback will not only better equip us for the future but also helps us to stand out from others as well. Asking for feedback demonstrates a positive attitude, and a willingness to learn and develop.
But if you do ask for feedback, be clear in what it is you want. Some organisations will help line managers to provide feedback but many still go on instinct or take the approach that they encountered earlier in their careers. Spoiler: that may not be a very constructive approach.
How to ask for feedback
So, be clear in the type of feedback that you want:
1) Ask for specifics – general feedback on approach can be fine but can be difficult to act upon so request more detailed feedback.
2) Be prompt – you want to receive the feedback soon after completing the task otherwise everyone is in danger of forgetting exactly what was done and why.
3) Ensure objectivity – the feedback needs to focus on the work and not veer into the personal criticisms.
4) Feedback as mentoring – be prepared to ask for details about how they would have approached the work and, importantly, focus on the ‘why’ as well. This will help to learn from their experience. The motivations for certain types of feedback can be just as important as the actual comments themselves.
5) Positive and negative – you want to hear about the good parts, not just those where improvement can be made.
6) Dialogue – whilst you need to listen to feedback, the person providing it also needs to listen to you. Good feedback is really about an open dialogue.
7) Actions, not just words – you need the feedback to give specific suggestions rather than being too general
For those receiving feedback, it will only be forthcoming in future if it is taken on board and changes made. Otherwise, those providing feedback will simply loose interest. Rather than helping you develop, it will have the opposite effect.
When it is acted upon then it helps to establish a positive loop where more feedback will be forthcoming. It is important to remember that this could from a range of people in an organisation as well, not just about a single line manager. That can really help to broaden horizons.
Feedback is about learning and improvement, not blame or criticism. It is needed by all of us, every day. We should all adopt the habit.