Do you want to know how you can get more candid feedback at work? Of course, you do! After all, candid feedback is the best kind. It's the honest stuff, the stuff that really pushes you to grow personally and professionally.
“One can choose to go back toward safety or forwards toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”
The problem is that it's hard for your team to be candid with you, we wrote about that in detail here in an earlier post. They don't want to hurt your feelings, they might not have time to find the right words and they probably don't say half of what they could and so you don't get what you need to grow. Instead, you get a cocktail of vague uplifting comments and positive-only reviews at best! Not exactly the kind of information that is going to trigger a lobster-like moment of shell-shattering explosive personal growth right?!
So how do you change this? In this post, we will explore 3 key steps to get started and 4 actionable tips to get more candid feedback at work to skyrocket your personal and professional growth.
Let’s be real. Nobody else is obligated to take the time and energy to develop you. That's on you. That doesn’t mean you have to do it alone but it does mean you have to start the conversation. A good place to start is by asking people who really get you. They will intimately know how you work and where your growth opportunities are. At Candor, think of these people as your inner circle - people who will be direct and kind with you and not avoid telling you hard truths if it will prevent you from unlocking your potential. So how to get started? Well, there are a couple of different options here.
You could start, simply with a conversation, where you invite the folks on your team or people from your inner circle to help you see your blind spots. Here are some powerful questions to ensure you get more candid feedback:
"How can I improve our relationship at work?"
"Where do I need to level up at work?"
"What don't I seem to see, that you can, that would improve how I show up?”
“How can I improve my contribution to our team?"
"What’s something I’m good at but don’t realize?"
Where do you think my strengths are, and where are my gaps?"
Alternatively, you could invite your team to give their perspective via a tool. We are going to shamelessly plug Candor at this point and yup—that's where the name comes from! We’ve made it super easy to get your inner circle’s take on how you work and where you need to improve—check it out—completely free and only takes a few minutes to get started.
Whatever you decide to do the important thing is that you now have a version of what you think versus what others think about how you show up at work. This is a great foundation for personal growth as you can now start to get intentional about which aspects of your working style you need to train. First off though, you need to make sure everyone knows you are "in training" and are open to having several people take on that high trust, high care role of personal (growth) trainer. In other words, it's time to advertise to others that you are open to candid feedback. Bring on the coaching team!
If you're open to candid feedback, advertise it! Make it clear when your door is open and for what. Are you looking for continuous general feedback or are there specific areas that you are trying to develop and improve on? Is there a specific way that you'd like people at work to approach giving you candid feedback? If so then it's a good idea to make sure they know that, so be sure to publicize it. We wrote a post about how to receive candid feedback here which you might find useful.
Ok, so we’ve done the groundwork, now we need to build the habit, this is the real muscle to develop. You need to help your team get into the rhythm of asking for and giving regular candid feedback and improvement suggestions to each other. We wrote a lot about how to do this as an individual in a previous post here, so instead of covering that side of things we are going to focus on 4 actions that you can take to get your whole team in the zone.
Nathan Barry, Founder, and CEO of Convertkit is big on "unsolicited feedback" sessions. Nathan describes this as where everyone gathers to talk about someone in the hot seat as if they aren't there for 10 min. When it's your turn all you can do is sit, listen & take notes, then you get 5 min to respond. Here are the question prompts to try with your team when someone is in the hot seat:
a) What does this person do that you find remarkable? What do you brag about them to other people?
b) If they were up for the promotion of their career in 6 mo, what would you tell them now to give them the best chance of getting it?
c) Assume you're working with this person for the next 10 years. What behavior isn't a big deal now, but will get really annoying or frustrating over that time?
This results in some of the best compliments, the most constructive feedback, and a culture of direct, candid conversations.
A great way to reinforce the behavior you want to see is to role-model it. Find someone on your team who wants to grow through more candid constructive feedback and help them develop. Help them, and have a stronger more transparent feedback culture. Work with them to give and share the benefits
If you have a mentor, a coach, and/or someone on your team that you work with closely, a really powerful way to hold yourself accountable for getting regular quality candid feedback is to introduce them to each other. Tell them where you are looking to grow and give them explicit permission to hold you to what you say you will do. Invite them to give you regular constructive feedback either face to face or if you’d like, you could try experimenting with Candor—a more quick-fire and fun way of doing this asynchronously.
A great way to build a habit is to make it feel less like a tax and more like fun. This starts with reward and recognition. Get your team together and:
Go forth and experiment with the results! This can be a really fun creative jam where you might come up with small simple things like creating a custom emoji for acts of candor in your Slack channel—we use an 🐘 because candor is sometimes about confronting the elephant in the room :). Some teams make a real ceremony of it and host monthly Oscars with bespoke awards. Whatever you and your team decide is cool, our advice is to just do something.
By taking these steps, you increase your potential of getting more candid feedback at work and therefore increase your chances of personal growth and your team’s. People unused to giving candid feedback can often be nervous about doing so, but when approached with openness, humility, and a touch of fun you've done all you can to encourage candid feedback at work. Good luck! Hope you found this valuable.