Hey Joe, I have feedback for YOU

When is a good time to ask for feedback?

“When is a good time to ask for feedback?” a client asked me recently. 

You might now immediately say: always, of course! 

We want to keep learning, even stretch ourselves sometimes. We want to inspect and adapt our work regularly. 

I say: yes, of course, we do want all of these things.

Yet I still see that feedback is a hard nut to crack in many organisations and for many people I work with. 

Here are a couple of things to consider for smoother feedback giving or receiving. 

First of all it is a good idea to come prepared when you give feedback. 

Come prepared

Feedback qualities

Feedback should be specific, relevant and candid. 

Taking time for prepping that kind of feedback isn’t always easy. Especially in today's fast-paced environments where people are fully focussed on those pieces of “real” work (e.g. product work, technical work, things that impact client satisfaction) they are currently at.

Feedback is real work!

Feedback is real work, too. In fact it requires the brain to do a task switch: 

In short, it is cognitive people work that will help you (and your colleagues) do even better work on your products and services.

Feedback models

There are a lot of feedback ‘models’ out there that can help with preparing (like OSCAR [1], or a Feedback Wrap [2] a NVC-based feedback model [3]).

Next, the setting for a feedback talk is something that needs a bit of prep, too. 

Care for the setting

When you ask someone for feedback you wouldn’t want them shouting two sentences of feedback over the hallway just in-between switching rooms and meetings, would you? 

You would want to truly be together. If you are the person receiving feedback, you most likely would want to have time to truly listen to the pieces of feedback you’re being given.

Take a moment to let the feedback sink in, maybe see for yourself if and what emotions come up. 

Take a moment to figure out if you want to ask a clarification question. With that you can leverage that piece of feedback even more. 

And finally, of course, take the time to authentically thank the feedback giver. Feedback is always a present.

Care for timing

You might now want to argue with me about the “is a present” part, do you?

Sometimes we really do not want to hear a certain piece of feedback as it feels hard to hear or digest. That is very human. 

Here are some ways I’ve seen, when we do not want to hear feedback: 

All of this is human. All of this can be considered with the timing of a valuable feedback session.

You might now say, this all sounds a bit complicated so you better refrain from asking for specific, relevant and candid feedback at all. 

Isn’t it complicated then?

It is only complicated as long as you have less routine in it. Maybe you know the saying: if it hurts, do it more often! [4][5]

Reduce the difficulty by bringing the pain forward and gain practise in asking for (and giving) useful feedback.

Start small

Start small and start today with these five steps:

Aim to do it more often as practise reduces the mental strain and increases your efficacy.

Practise makes great feedback

For that I suggest you open your calendar right now and make a weekly 10 min appointment with yourself for the next two months. Dedicate these 10 mins to repeat steps 1-4 and set up further small feedback conversations with colleagues or peers. 

Asking for relevant and candid feedback will help you to build a habit - and contribute to a feedback culture in your team, organisation and even beyond.

And don’t forget to talk about it! Your learnings, your seemingly small but intentional steps will inspire other people.

Caring for preparation, the setting and a good timing makes feedback even more valuable - for both parties involved: the feedback giver and the receiving person. 

Your personal routine will make feedback less painful, soon joyful and for sure: useful. 

Thanks for reading! 😊

I'm Cosima.
I work with teams and organizations who want to achieve more together,
and I coach human beings who want clarity, lightness and power in their (business) life.