Feedback Specificity

Feedback has been on my mind a lot lately. It was a theme in my performance reviews at the start of the year, I just completed reading An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization, and last week, we kicked off a six-month coaching program centered on building a culture around feedback and personal growth (featured in my newsletter today).

A common complaint I hear from employees is: I don't get enough direct feedback from my peers. While I'm grateful to see employees crave feedback, feedback is no one's responsibility but our own.

I love to reframe this complaint into a question: what can I do to get the type of feedback I'm looking for? If we all actively seek out feedback, they'll be plenty of feedback to go around.

We often confuse "How did that go?" after a meeting with asking for feedback. We're vague, so what do we get? More vagueness in return. The team mutters:

  • Jake: "Pretty good!"
  • Jasmine: "Not bad."
  • Jessica: "Client seemed happy."

We leave the meeting with some interpretation of how it went and go about our day.

In the future, Jasmine is asked to do a peer review of our performance. She mentions how she wishes we took more of a lead in meetings. We get frustrated. Why didn't Jasmine share this when I asked?

The trouble is that we never asked...

Getting constructive feedback requires specificity. Specificity is taking How do you think that meeting went? and going deeper. What do you really want to know? Try: Do you think I was effective in explaining how the client's vision informed our approach?

Specificity can be challenging in more ways than one. It requires focus and vulnerability. But once you get in the swing of it, the benefits greatly exceed any temporary discomfort.