11 Ways To Get Feedback From Others

Feedback Radical Candor

It’s hard to get “real-talk” as the boss

Being the boss doesn’t mean you automatically get respect from people, but the authority does have an automatic impact on what people will say to you. Unfortunately, people are primed to mistrust you based on all the preconceived notions against bosses.

  1. Reward the candor. It’s not enough to appreciate critique from your team, or not to get defensive. You have to reward the candor. People need to see and feel that there is a benefit to criticizing you.

Tip 1: Have a go-to question

Feedback Radical Candor
  • “What’s bothering you?”
  • “What’s the one thing you’ve been wanting to tell me but have been holding back?”

Tip 2: Embrace the discomfort

Feedback Radical Candor

Tip 3: Listen with the intent to understand, not to respond

Don’t interrupt or argue when someone gives you feedback. Just listen, focus on understanding what the person is telling you, and try to learn something from it. When they’re finished speaking, check for understanding. You can say something like, “So what I hear you saying is…” Repeat back to them the issues they have raised, as you understand them. Ask, “Do I have that right?” Make sure you truly understand their point of view.

Tip 4: Reward criticism to get more of it

When someone provides feedback to you, treat it like a treasured gift! Prove to them that you are receptive to what you’ve heard and that you really do appreciate their thoughts.

Tip 5: Ask for public criticism

Feedback Radical Candor

Tip 6: Criticize yourself in public

Criticizing yourself in public is a great way to show that you feel comfortable acknowledging that you aren’t perfect, that you have room for improvement.

Tip 7: Call out body language

Radical Candor Feedback

Tip 8: Relish being wrong

Show people that you are happy when they prove you wrong. If you openly and enthusiastically admit when you’re wrong (even on a daily basis), people will feel more encouraged to debate with you.

Tip 9: Show that you care

Because power corrupts, the little bit of power you get when you become the boss will make people look for the worst in you, even if you are diligent about not letting it bring out your worst.

Tip 10: Don’t try to change your style

Too often, when a team is reluctant to criticize or praise a boss, the boss gets advice to become a different kind of person. Needless to say, that’s not helpful. Figure out how to use your personal style, be it very vocal or very quiet, tough or gentle, approachable or intimidating, to invite criticism of yourself, to remind people that you want to be challenged.

Tip 11: Get theatrical

Sometimes you have to be really over the top to get feedback. Try one of these theatrical techniques for making a big deal about feedback and turning it into a ritual at your company.

“You were right I was wrong” prizes

Make a bigger show about loving to be wrong by giving out a trophy or prize to people who prove you wrong.

Red box

Toyota wanted to encourage all employees to share feedback, especially criticism. The culture in Japan made it really unlikely that employees, especially new employees, would criticize management.

Orange box

The “orange box” technique was developed by Michael Dearing, who defined product marketing at eBay in 2002, and is now a seed stage investor with a remarkable track record. Michael put an orange box with a slit on the top in a high traffic area so that people could drop questions or feedback into it.

Management “fixit” weeks

Software engineering organizations often do the equivalent of spring cleaning on a regular cadence. Periodically, everyone on an engineering team will stop working on new things and fix/clean up old “bugs” — things that are broken.

Thoughts on employee surveys and online forums

Employee engagement surveys and online forums can be good ways to gather additional feedback from people, but they are NOT substitutes for actually talking to people and getting feedback through in person conversations.

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