Ask for feedback! 

by Laura Camacho

If there’s one thing you can do to make things better for your employees and your company, it’s asking for feedback. But asking a general, “Do you have any feedback for me?” can be overwhelming for an employee because the question is too broad. One principle of excellent communication is the proactive practice of making it easy as possible for others to do what you want them to do. 

One of the problems that derails a request for a task completion or behavior change is that the message was not clear to begin with. Clarity is kindness. And practical. Think of a time when you got feedback that was really helpful. Probably the message came as a surprise. I can remember clearly being told that my humor was coming across as harsh or abrasive. Boy was I surprised!! The last thing I want to be is harsh or abrasive. When this manager gave me this feedback, I was speechless. But I realized that humor can be tricky and in this particular work context (I was working in a large hospital at the time) I needed to be more careful.

Being more careful about communication has been a theme throughout my life. That trend is what led to my becoming an executive communication coach. You never know where feedback will lead you. Sometimes the comment is a surprise and sometimes it confirms a sneaky suspicion you had but were not quite sure about it. You can also use feedback to test a hypothesis about yourself. As a confirmed introvert, I am often quiet at home – especially after a full day of coaching or training. It occurred to me that maybe I was putting too much of a burden on my husband to make most of the dinner conversation. So, I asked him, “Honey, do you think I should talk more to you?”The answer, to give you the short version, was a definite “no.” Case closed. No need for me to scramble for dinner conversation topics at home.

To solicit useful feedback, here are some useful questions to ask your employees, colleagues or even a family member.

“What would you like me to do differently?”

“What’s one thing I can do to be more successful?”

“How can I better communicate with you?”

You may have to ask more than one time. But keep asking and answers you will receive. There is so much unexpected value in this communication practice!

Laura Camacho, MBA, PhD, PMP, is an executive coach, trainer and speaker who opened Mixonian Institute in 2009 to rid the world of boring business communication. She has created innovative training programs for local and international companies, related to leadership effectiveness, excellent feedback, growth mindset and emotional intelligence. Multilingual, Dr. Camacho’s career highlights include facilitating The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (in Spanish,) being editor of the leading management newsletter in Venezuela. For 10 years she taught communication classes at ECU and College of Charleston.


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