Ask and You Shall Receive…Just be Prepared to Receive
Everyone loves to hear their name sung in praise as it stokes the flames burning in our egos. Most people crave recognition for achievements, but this shouldn’t be considered a negative trait because it is part of the engine that drives people to succeed.
The results from effort put into self-development are greatly improved by adding a feedback process. When the feedback process is completed correctly, it will be provide valuable insight and be an important skill builder. However if it is not done correctly, it will have the effect of reinforcing wrong messages all the way to completely demoralizing a person.
People, especially in management positions, can directly ask for peer feedback. I have found this process to be enlightening, and hard to hear at times. No one is perfect, and we all have areas that we need to improve; it is just unpleasant to hear about them in a direct, matter-of-fact, manner. However, if I do not know the areas of weakness then how can I improve?
When asking for peer feedback, I explain to the person, that I am requesting feedback from, what are my goals of the conversation, and I ask them to be completely honest with me.
I start off by asking what they feel are my strengths, and what aspects of my responsibilities I truly excel. With every topic I ask for examples to make sure I have a reference to draw upon, and to be sure that I really understand what they are saying in real-world context.
Next, I move to aspects of my leadership, management, and job responsibilities that they feel I operate at an average level. These are areas that are most easily improved upon with just a bit of more focus. I ask for more examples and their comments on what/how I should improve.
Lastly, I want to know the areas that are below expectations. This is the hardest to hear, and the hardest for most people to give. As the recipient of feedback, I make an earnest effort to instill trust, security, and be non-confrontational. I detach from my emotional side, the best that I can, and embrace my logical side.
I ask in non-threatening ways to better understand where I have not met expectations. Examples are important, and I ask for advice on specific situations so I can get their perspective on what must be improved. It may take effort and coaxing to get them to open up, but it is well worth the effort. It is very import not get defensive or engage in ‘setting the record straight’. This will lower trust and cut the likelihood anyone will take part in the process in the future.
Working with peers to get direct feedback takes effort and trust. If you are not accustomed to hearing direct feedback, then the first few times will be uncomfortable.
Everything that has worth has a price, and self-development is no different.