If you were given the opportunity to get uncensored honest feedback about you and your performance from your most important stakeholders, would you take it?
In theory, of course you would. (“Feedback is great! We all want feedback! How can we improve without feedback, right?!?”) In reality, it’s hard to be so sure. Our brains are wired to protect us, so even if rationally we can see the benefits of constructive feedback, anything vaguely negative will trigger our defenses at a cognitive level. For more on the neuroscience of feedback click here.
Recently, on behalf of one of our clients, we conducted interviews with nominated clients to get honest, uncensored feedback. Some clients even agreed to share their feedback on video. The feedback was then shared at an offsite and used as the basis for discussion about how to improve. One thing everyone agreed on was how powerful real, live, personal feedback can be to drive action.
The thing is though, wanting feedback is only one part of it – the way you ask will determine whether it’s insightful and honest. Some tips to ask well:
- Give some context to the request – consider why you want the feedback and share this when making your request. For example, “I’m hoping for a promotion later this year and I know that presenting is a key capability for me to be successful…”
- Be specific – if your request is too general people may feel worried they will offend you. What do you want feedback on? For example, “I tend to go too fast when I present and not engage with my audience enough. Could you give me feedback on that aspect of my presentation today?”
- Avoid putting them on the spot – some people, particularly those with an analytical or amiable style, will want to think carefully before sharing their thoughts. Show respect by giving them some notice and time to think before the conversation.
- Frame it as feed-forward – questions such as ‘do you have any suggestions for me for next time?’ tend to create a more constructive tone. This way, the conversation isn’t about what you did poorly, but how you can make it even better.
It’s been a while since we talked podcasts*. These are three of the best out there right now:
1. You are not so Smart – described as a celebration of self-delusion, this podcast focuses on “how unaware you are of how unaware you are”. Each episode looks at a different cognitive bias, fallacy or flaw in our logic, challenging the undeserved confidence we often have in human perception, motivation and behaviour. If this area interests you, the widely-acclaimed NPR podcast Invisibilia is also back with a new season.
2. Acquired – each episode of this great podcast examines a tech company acquisition. Click here for a recent episode putting the LinkedIn acquisition under the spotlight and speculating about the company’s future inside Microsoft. Other episodes include PayPal, YouTube and Virgin America (clearly not tech, but so interesting they did it anyway).
3. Best Practice – from ABC Radio National, this podcast claims to “bring you the big ideas ideas in workplace culture, leadership, innovation and trends”. With far reaching topics, from building resilience to business planning to networking, episodes often involve guest speakers who bring ‘best practice’ from their field.
* For anyone who hasn’t yet ventured into the weird and wonderful world of podcasts, now is the time. It is so easy you probably already have the app on your phone. If you’re not sure, ask someone younger than you to help 😉 You won’t regret it.
THIS WEEK IF YOU…
Watch one thing, make it this clip of LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner talking to his people after a disappointing earnings announcement and 40% drop in share value in one day (it was back in Feb). It’s a great example of strong use of the inspirational style to help a team navigate setbacks. He then shifts the focus to the future and the impact of emerging technologies on employment, using it as an opportunity to remind people of the vision of the company and restore their sense of purpose. Nice work Jeff.
Phew! That was a long one.
Thanks for reading Vibers.
See you next time.