How to Get Great Feedback

May 5, 2014

Feedback is everywhere. We get feedback from our bosses in our performance reviews. We ask our customers for their feedback on our service. We collect engagement feedback from our employees. We send a work project around the team for peer feedback before submitting our deliverables.

In all of these cases, the difference between good feedback and poor feedback can easily be the difference between success and failure. The implications can affect our organization’s market share, our revenues, our project quality or our ability to be promoted.

Great feedback is crucial. But it’s not always easy to come by. So how do we get the feedback we need – either individually or corporately? Let’s take a closer look at seven feedback tips.

Feedback

Ask For It

If you don’t ask for feedback, you’ll probably still get some. You just won’t get as much. And it will be lower quality and much less organized. The feedback experience will also be much poorer both for you and for the other party. On the other hand, when you ask for feedback, people are much more likely to give it to you – in the time frame and context you want it.

Demonstrate that You Acknowledged It Last Time

If you get feedback but ignore it, it’s much harder for people to take you seriously when you ask for it again. What’s in it for them? Their giving feedback will seem like an extra task that isn’t worth their time because you never completed the previous transaction by acknowledging the receipt.

Tell How It Will Be (or Has Been) Used

If people aren’t sure how you will use their feedback, they’ll be skeptical – and rightly so. No one wants their candor to be taken advantage of. Will their feedback be anonymous? Is there even a chance there will be any repercussions? Be upfront about this – as well as the positive changes that have been made with feedback that was provided previously.

Make it Easy for People to Give It

It is very unpleasant to provide feedback when it doesn’t appear to be wanted. This goes for feedback to individuals or organizations. When there is a poor system to collect the feedback (or no system), it communicates a lack of interest – regardless of the stated request. Make sure people know where and how to provide the feedback you are asking for. Use an easy, time-efficient system. The smoother the process, the more feedback you’ll receive.

Be Specific

If you make generic requests, you’ll get generic answers. The last thing you want is for people to tell you things were “fine.” It’s hard to take action on improving “fine.” So be specific in your requests. Give 1:5 or 1:10 feedback ranges. Provide feedback categories. Or ask different audiences to provide feedback on different areas. Ask what went well and what could be improved. But also ask for specific details on critical areas.

Use it

If you never use any of the feedback you get, eventually, you one will provide you with any more. Like lack of acknowledgement, lack of use means it’s not worth the time to give it. And if you don’t communicate that you will use the feedback you get (or how it was used in the past), it’s the same result. Don’t forget to show your feedback audience how their input will improve things.

Say Thank You

Remember, whenever people give you feedback, they are doing you a favor. You don’t have to use it. You can take it or leave it. But you should always say thank you regardless of the content – especially if you asked for it.

It’s difficult to get good feedback, but it’s a lot easier when you help yourself.

Which of these tips can you use this week?

Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer and thought leader.  Receive his new ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor by subscribing to his website  or follow him on Twitter.