Most of us know that obtaining feedback from others is critical to both self-awareness and self-improvement – without it we really don’t know how we’re doing. And most of us will acknowledge, even if reluctantly, that feedback is essential to make the changes we need – improving performance, strengthening relationships, addressing long-standing problems, or achieving better results.
Unfortunately, our willingness and ability to gather that feedback is limited by a number of factors, including our inability to get truly honest and meaningful insights from others, our fear of hearing that ‘truth’, real doubt about the validity of what we hear, and general unease about receiving information that doesn’t match our own perceptions of who we are and how we’re doing.
Ideally, in the best of all worlds, we’d just ask people for feedback – What am I doing well? What could I do better? What should I do more of, less of, start or stop? And of course, others would be more than willing to give their feedback in an honest, transparent and respectful way. In the real world however, this is a rare occurrence – so what’s to be done?
One way is to use structured tools like web-based 360 feedback to help support and guide the feedback process. Many employees in larger organizations have been through this type of process. Unfortunately, this feedback raises as many questions as it often answers. The rationale for numerical ratings, for example, are not available and written comments are often contradictory and/or confusing.
A more powerful method for gathering critical feedback is narrative, or interview-based, 360 feedback. This method of gathering information enables you to have key people within your network participate in confidential interviews about how you ‘show up’ on the job and in the workplace. Feedback is consolidated, themed and shared in written format in conjunction with a debrief conversation. Not only will you get some good information, you’ll understand the contexts in which you shine and those in which you need to ‘step up your game’.
Something to think about the next time you’re looking for feedback.