How to Ask For And Get Constructive Feedback
30 days after I started my role at Microsoft I invited my manager to a feedback session.
Yes. I invited him...
I wanted to know how I was doing, and I didn't want to wait for an annual performance review.
"Do you have any feedback for me?"
I thought that question was enough to solicit feedback from my manager but it didn't work well...
For the most part, my manager just smiled and said everything was "great". If you've ever been in a relationship you know "everything is fine" usually means "there's something we should talk about".
While it was satisfying to let myself think I was doing a great job, I wanted to know what my manager really needed from me.
Here is how I ended up getting helpful feedback that I could turn into action:
1. I told my manager on numerous occasions that I value feedback and I see it as a POSITIVE process that will help me become better at my job.
2. Instead of asking a general question I asked my manager to answer these questions:
What is one thing I'm doing really well and you would want me to continue doing? What is one thing I should probably do less of? What is one thing I should stop doing?
How are you feeling about my communication style? Do I communicate clearly? Do you feel like I include you in my decisions? Is there anything missing?
Do you have any feedback about my leadership style? My engagement with my peers?
What are some highlights you have observed in my work? Lowlights?
3. I sent these questions in advance (before a 1:1 or 90-day check-in) to allow my manager to answer these questions thoughtfully, instead of putting them on the spot.
It's not easy to ask for feedback.
Most people would prefer to stay oblivious and just keep doing what they are doing. Asking for feedback is one of the best "growth hacks" for your career.
If you ask for feedback, listen, and take action, you will improve faster, learn new things and become a better version of yourself.