The importance of asking for feedback

What would be your reaction if someone were to stop you somewhere – e.g, one of the company rows – and tell you “hey, can I give you some feedback?”

Think for a while.

The chances are huge that you would think something like: “Oh, God! My heartbeat is speeding up”

This happens because feedback is read in our mind as a threat to our social status (and to our own perception of it). It is a biological reaction that is triggered by millions of years of natural selection that made us creatures highly sensitive to threats in our environment.

However, times have changed and threats aren’t as constant as they were anymore. We don’t fear being attacked by a lion out of the blue, nor our tribe being invaded by the neighboring tribe in the middle of the night, and losing our partners and offspring. I think you got it.

Our brain, nonetheless, continues to work in many ways exactly how it has worked for millions of years: we still eat more than we need,  as if we weren’t going to find food for a few days; our brain identifies threats in fractions of seconds, as if we were in constant danger; our body still mingles with artificial lights, as if the sun were our only “clock”. 

Because of that, we need to find a way “to cheat” our brain when the issue is feedback. We need to find a way to get through stress’ instinctive reactions – cortisol hormones – that come out every time we listen “Hey, can I give you some feedback?”

But why do we need to do that? Because feedback is something essential in our life and more specifically in our growth and development as a person and as a professional. In life, all the inputs we receive from the environment, captured by our senses, are feedback: it help us make decisions. 

We need these stimuli to live. Without stimuli, such as insights, classes, communication et cetera, we can’t develop ourselves at work. Therefore, if it is so important and also stressful, something is wrong.

There’s a tested, simple, and approved way of getting over feedback’s stress: asking for it.

When we ask for feedback to other people, we automatically become much more comfortable and predisposed to what we are going to listen. Our stress level – which will still exist – drops substantially. And also, believe me,  the stress level of the person who gives you the feedback. 

With a request, one doesn’t feel like he or she is overstepping into a professional colleague’s life, but contributing to his/her development meaningfully. In other words, it is all about win-win situations.

Thus we set up this guide with inspirations on how to ask for good feedback. 

We hope you like it!

A little bit of inspiration

Remember that you ask feedback for one or more people. So we are going to presume, to simplify, that your feedback is requested to more than one person whenever possible.

Replace terms in between brackets with terms that fit perfectly to your context!

We are going to give you some ideas on to how to ask for feedback in the following contexts:

  • When you complete X months in the company

  • When you finish some presentation, project or delivery

  • When you want to understand what would have made people astonished at your performance (definition of excellence) 

  • When you want to know how to be a better people manager (communication and development)

  • When you want to know, from your manager, how are you doing at your job at any time

[Time of service] Feedback on the first month at a company

Guys, 

I have been working here for a month, and I’d like to ask you for some feedback on how I’m doing. I will list some specific points as suggestions, but please talk about what you have observed:

- What were your thoughts when I introduced myself and joined the team? Any comments on that?

- What did you think of my onboarding process? It was delivered within the expectations? How could I have exceed them?

- How do you think I can be more productive from now on? 

Thank you very much for all the support and feedback. This will help me a lot!

{{Signature}}

[Delivery] Post presentation feedback

Guys, 

I’d like to ask you for some feedback about my {{yesterday}} presentation. It is always good to know what I did well and what I can do better. I’m going to list some specific points as a suggestion, but please talk about what you have observed:

  • Were the central ideas of the presentation clear, especially at the beginning of it?

- My arguments in favor of my proposal were well sustained? How could I have done differently? 

- How was my body language? Did I come across as confident? Did I keep repeating some gesture that might distract listeners? If so, how could I change it?

Thank you guys! 

{{Signature}}

[Delivery] Post project feedback

Now the storm has passed, I’d like to ask you all for some feedback about my participation at the {{project theme}} project. It is always good to know what I have done well and what I can do better. I’m going to provide a list with a few specific points as suggestional topics, but please talk about what you have observed:

- Collaboration: How did you think I have worked with you? Was it easy to work with me? Can you tell me some examples and suggestions on how I can collaborate better in the next projects? 

- Quality: Did I deliver my jobs with good quality? Where did you think I could have done better?

- How should I have participated/worked/collaborated so that you were astonish with my participation (always good to know it for guidance in the future)?

Thank you very much!

{{Signature}}

[Delivery] How far did I go?

People,

I want to ask you for feedback about the {{report}} that I delivered {{yesterday}}.

Did you think it was a good example of {{company value – here at Qulture it could be “Delivered a lot with Impact”}}

Some specific topics that would be excellent to approach:

- If you were me, what would you have done differently?

- Did I communicate well during the process?

- Were the expectations met?

Thank you,

{{Signature}}

[Delivery] What is the definition of excellent?

A good feedback request is asking for the definition of excellent. Often we don’t know what is expected from us, especially what would make the people we work with/to astonished. This feedback can be used to set your expectations rightly.

Doing so, you’ll have more inputs to understand your future steps of growth and figure out the direction (even if it’s challenging) of what is and will be expected of you.

Guys,

I’d like to ask you for some feedback about the {{report}} that I delivered/presented {{yesterday}}. Especially, I want you to explain me what I should have done to astonish you with this delivery. What would have made you very impressed with the delivery, beyond what was expected?

Thank you a lot,

{{Singnature}}

[As a manager] How can I help you to be your best selves?

Team,

I want to ask you for some feedback to help me become a better manager. I read in an article a very interesting definition about a leader’s role: “help[ing] his team members become their best selves at work”. I think it summarizes the impact that I’d like to have daily. I want to help you to do the best job of your life here at {{company}}.

So I am asking for this feedforward, what could I do to help you more? That is, to help you to:

- Deliver more results

- Work better with each other

- Feel more connected/engaged with work

- Grow/develop more/better

Is it meaningful? This learning will mean a lot to me.

Thank you very much!

{{Signature}}

[As a manager] How can I communicate better?

Team, 

Google did a survey with its 50 thousands employees (the survey is called Project Oxygen) and found that the best people managers communicate well with their teams, either taking team themes to other areas/management or bringing information from other areas, and from the company in general to the team.

So I want you to help me become a better communicator. How could I communicate better with you in the future? Can you give me some ideas?

Thanks for helping!

{{Signature}}

[As a manager] Am I clearly setting goals and priorities?

Team, 

Google did a survey with its 50 thousands employees (the survey is called Project Oxygen) and found that the best people managers communicate their teams’ priorities, values and mission clearly.

So I want you to help me become a better manager considering this.  It would be good identifying some opportunities in the past in which the priorities were not very clear, impacting negatively the team. Could you help me? Perhaps we can find some “blind spots” in which I have done wrong without being aware of it.

Thank you!

{{Signature}}

[As a direct report] How am I doing {{manager name}}, fine?

I want to ask you for feedback on how I am doing at work. I would like to understand some points that I can work on, if possible with a suggestion of what and how I could  do things better (I think this contrast is important to guide myself).

Regards,

{{Signature}} 

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