There are many people I have talked to through coaching who don’t think they’re getting feedback at work. They’ll say things like “I never get any feedback from my manager”, “I wish I would get some more feedback”, or “They are telling me I’m doing well, but I am not so sure that’s true”. In this article I want to show you how you can find the feedback you are craving. Trust me, you are getting more feedback than you think. Some of it is very positive, and some feedback can be your best teacher. There is feedback for you everywhere. Let’s help you see it.
To start, I have a quick story to share. Years ago I was growing in my career. People were starting to give me bigger assignments and responsibilities. I was asked to take the lead on a problem solving session with a large group. I did some homework to understand the problem, identified the key players to help solve it, made my agenda and scheduled the session. Unfortunately, the day that the meeting was happening, I was feeling very sick. At the last minute, I mean literally 5 minutes before the meeting, I asked the person who had offered me the opportunity to PLEASE take over for me because I wasn’t feeling well. He said, “Uh, sure. Okay”. I said “thank you” and I let him lead. I didn’t give him my notes. I hadn’t shared the homework I had done to be prepared, and I didn’t give him my more detailed agenda that I had created. I just kinda left, and assumed he would do fine. Of course, being sick is something that’s somewhat out of one’s control, but the way I made the transition really wasn’t great. He never really said anything to me about that day. He led the meeting for me and moved on.
I distinctly remember thinking that I didn’t get any feedback about it. No one ever said anything verbally, but I want you to see that I did DISTINCTLY get feedback. I know I got feedback, because I think about that meeting to this day. I still feel sorry for how I handled it, and I made sure to do things differently after that day.
So where was the feedback?
- The expression on his face when I asked him to take over was distinctly disappointed. He didn’t need to say “Can I offer you feedback? When you asked me to take over and didn’t give me any of your documentation, i found it disappointing”
- He didn’t offer me another opportunity to lead for a number of weeks after that until I showed that I could show up consistently. He gave the next meeting to someone else to lead. I know I lost trust from him that day.
- The problem the team discussed in the meeting that day turned into a small project. It was one that, in my role, would have made sense for me to take the lead on. But, someone else was given that chance instead. THAT is a form of feedback for me about the actions that day.
- I personally thought about how I handled the handover and felt badly about it. I had all kinds of feedback for myself.
Although there was no verbal feedback, these forms of non verbal feedback meant something. And luckily I learned from it. I learned that when I’m preparing to lead a session, it’s important to make sure others are aware of the details and agenda so that if I’m suddenly sick, a backup is prepared to take over. OR, that if emergencies come up like illness, that it might be better to reschedule a meeting and keep the lead role rather than tossing the role to someone else. I learned that following through is important and that when you aren’t able to follow through it can erode trust. I learned all of these things despite the fact that there was “no feedback”.
So you see, when you think there is a lack of feedback, most of the time it’s because you’re not paying close enough attention to the details. You can find feedback everywhere. You just have to learn to see it.
- Look at how people are reacting to you.
- What kind of responses are you getting to your comments or emails.
- Are people asking you for things and following up because they haven’t heard from you?
- Or are they saying “thank you” with enthusiasm.
- Do team members come to you with questions because they think you’ll be able to help?
- Or do they exclude you from decisions?
- Are you being asked to participate in new assignments?
- What is your boss asking you about in your one-on-ones with them?
These are all forms of feedback.
And you can dig deeper and get more information by breaking it down with the same feedback framework as my articles over the last few weeks.
- Fact: what was the situation? In my story, the fact was that I said to my colleague “I’m not feeling well, can you take over?” And I walked away
- Impact: The impact to him that I observed was a disappointed look on his face
- Ask: In my case when I thought about it, the ask was “in the future please have a contingency plan in case something comes up like illness”. I also could have approached him to have a conversation about this event and find out how he would want me to handle it, but I didn’t. I wasn’t mature enough at the time.
- Consequence: ask yourself what is the consequence? For me the consequence was that I was not given a chance to take the lead for a little while and I lost the project.
- Followup. Check in with the results you are observing. In my story, as followup, I could have done more with him, but I did follow up with myself by looking at how I learned from that situation. I definitely adjusted my approach for future situations and every once in a while I check in with myself to see how things are going.
To find your feedback the first step is to notice all the facts around you. So, what are your facts? Do they look anythig like this?
- Your inbox has 1000 unread messages.
- Your calendar has meetings back to back from 7am to 7pm
- You made a commitment and missed it.
- You were multitasking in a meeting and asked someone to repeat a question that you missed.
- Your back is aching and you have been sitting for two hours straight.
- You are standing in a group and someone looks at you and whispers to the person next to them.
When you look at the facts, then consider the impact on you and on others and decide if you are okay with that impact or not. Do you want to make a change? As you learn to do this you will start to consider the “ask” others might have of you, or you might have of yourself. You can walk through this same framework for all forms of feedback, both verbal and non-verbal. If you do, you will start to see feedback everywhere.
You might even begin to ask others about the impact of facts, or try to find out their ask of what they want you to do. If you do, you will start to get more explicit verbal feedback because with specific questions feedback is easier to give.
I hope you can see how even without a formal statement of feedback, you are still getting it all around you. Most of our feedback comes internally from ourselves.
I want to end my article with a word of caution.
When you are looking for feedback in this way, it is very tempting to use it as an opportunity to beat yourself up.
Please don’t do that.
I want you to look for feedback from a place of self love and curiosity. Look at each situation and ask yourself what you want to do in the face of the facts you notice. One of the most beautiful ways to do this is to ask yourself the following questions.
- What knowledge have I gained by seeing this that I wouldn’t have gained without it?
- Now that I’m seeing this about myself, how can I turn it into a powerful way to grow?
- How is knowing this a gift to me in the future?
My mission is to help people learn how to grow and thrive while being relentlessly kind to themselves. Please go find your feedback, and love yourself for seeing it. Then use it to grow.
Be well my friends.