Workplace Feedback: Create a Culture of ASK

How do you feel about feedback? Do you love getting feedback? Do you love giving feedback? Intellectually I know the value of feedback. It helps me grow as an employee, a team member and a leader. It lets me know when I am on the right track. It lets me know when I need to make a course correction. It is the most effective, powerful tool in the workplace, and it is free. And, feedback can be hard to give and hard to receive.

So why is it hard?

⦁ If status, security, or sense of belonging is threatened, regardless how well intentioned or carefully presented, defenses go up and ears shut down.

⦁ If you tell me something I already know, you are not helping me.

⦁ If the feedback loop is not a loop at all but really a straight line only moving in one direction, we are minimizing its value. It should be a loop with information going out and going in.

What is the anecdote to these negative traps?

⦁ Create a Culture of ASK.

⦁ When I ask for feedback, I am naturally more open to the information that I receive.

⦁ I am open and ready to listen.

⦁ The person that I ask for feedback is invited to share and more likely to provide information that I need and can hear.

How can we create a culture of ASK?

1. Ask often.

What is often? Often is constantly. Ask for feedback on small things and big things. The more we ask the more comfortable we get with feedback.

2. Ask for the specific information.

When I ask, “How did I do?” I may get a vague answer like “Great” or “Fine.” That does not help me. Or I may get an answer that tells me something that I already know. “You were slow to start and did not engage the whole team.” If I already know this, it does not help me either. However, if I ask, “Did I communicate the objectives and goals of the project?” I can improve my communication techniques so that I can reduce ramp up time and engage more people. That can help me improve. That becomes a conversation I need to hear. Take ownership of your learning and growth. Ask about what you need to know.

3. Ask for feedback up, down and sideways.

Ask for feedback from your supervisor, your direct reports and your peers. When you ask for feedback you shift the power dynamics of the workplace. When I give the people I work with a platform to share their knowledge and perceptions, I can reshape the work that we all do together. The best feedback may come from anyone in the organization.

A truly astonishing culture can develop a culture of ASK.

Model this behavior and reward this behavior in others. By doing so we co-create a climate of listening and understanding, sharing and learning, and growing and developing. What an awesome place to work!

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