Every time I’m cooking pasta, I ask my wife, “Is this done?” and she gives me immediate feedback:
“Hmm, missing some salt.”
“Too spicy. 🌶️”
Now imagine, If one day, I randomly asked her:”Hey Sarah, how can I improve my cooking?”
I’d definitely get “a” response back, but I bet it would lack context.
This is exactly what most of us do when we randomly ask our boss or peer to give us feedback.
A better way to get feedback is to get the timing and context right.
Here’s an example: Let’s say your weekly team meeting is always contentious.
Try this technique next time:
Step #1: Recruit a peer you trust who also attends the meeting.
Step #2: Make your ask“I’m working on managing my reactions when my ideas are challenged by the boss. I’d love for you to watch for that and give me feedback after the meeting. Would you be willing to do that?”
Step #3: Do a retrospective with your peer. Try to listen with genuine curiosity and ask pointed questions.
If they say: “You came across defensive.” Try probing further:”Can you tell me more? Do you think my facial experssion gave it away? or do you think it was my overall demeanor?”
Your goal in step 3 is to get as specific as you can.
Step #4: Thank them for helping you with their feedback, even if you disagree with some of their observations.
Feedback is most helpful when it’s actionable, and actionable feedback most often comes with great context and timing.
Time to cook dinner!