I’ve always been curious about year-end feedback meetings. Are they actually effective? How much do managers or employees remember about activities and behaviors that happened months ago? Sure, you can get a high level assessment, but is that the most helpful?
I’ve always found the best feedback is immediate and specific.
These were the thoughts going through my mind when I talked with a financial adviser who shared a key insight with me. “Feedback, especially negative feedback, isn’t something people like to give or receive.”
Then he shared this nugget, “Instead of asking for feedback, I ask for advice.”
Instead of asking for feedback, ask for advice or the other person’s opinion
This is so brilliant because who among us does not love to give advice or share our opinions, especially when asked by someone who genuinely wants to hear our answer.
This frame provides safe space for the other person to be honest.
I recently put this to the test. I was speaking at a financial industry event. The organizer came up to me afterwards with compliments. I am a Leo – I appreciate being appreciated. But what I really wanted was her honest feedback.
Instead of saying, “Do you have any feedback for me?” I tried a different approach.
I asked, “What advice would you give me on the presentation? If you were me, what would you do differently?”
“If you were me, what would you do?”
She got a big smile on her face and shared some invaluable feedback about something she would alter in my presentation. If I had asked for “feedback,” I’m not sure she would have been as comfortable sharing what she did.
We had an awesome conversation. She walked away feeling like her advice was taken (which it was), and I walked away with a specific takeaway that would make my presentation better.
If you want to improve, you need outside perspectives
We all have blind spots. There is a disconnect between how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us.
This is why it’s important to make it easy and safe for others to share their perspectives with us.
I am reminded of the quote from Adam Grant, “In every field, what separates those who sustain excellence from those who don’t is repeatedly asking: What’s the one thing I can do better?”
So get out there and ask people for their advice, their opinions, and “what would you do if you were me?”
The answers might surprise you.