Ever had a performance review? You know the drill: sit in silence as your boss puts you under the microscope, analyzing your every move for the past year. Even if you know they only want to help you succeed, getting feedback can be awkward, intimidating and stressful.
In the early days of growing my business, I didn't know how to ask for, or take, feedback. I thought that as CEO, I knew what was best for the company; it didn't matter what anyone thought. But I've since learned that knowing how to ask for, and receive, feedback is an essential skill that everyone should hone.
It's not always easy but it's a surefire way to improve your performance, increase your productivity and raise your job satisfaction. Whether you're leading a company, giving a presentation or spearheading a project, here are five ways to crowdsource feedback.
Create a group of trusted associates
Your boss isn't the only person with the authority to give you feedback. The colleagues you interact with day in and day out are an untapped resource for valuable insights; all you have to do is ask. Just be sure to talk to a variety of people to get varied perspectives; your manager will have much different input than one of your direct reports, but both can be equally useful. Human resource professionals call this the "360 review" approach, as it gives you a full-circle view of how you're doing.
I trust the people I work with so I value their opinions. That's why I regularly solicit their feedback on projects or my leadership style.
I'm currently writing a book, which has been one of the most vulnerable things I've ever done. But I knew I needed additional sets of eyes on it if I wanted it to be exceptional. I shared it with a group of associates, and so far, their insight has been invaluable.
Get feedback in real time
The best time to ask for feedback is during or immediately after you complete a project. If you wait a week, or even a day, it may already be too late to get the reliable insight you need. The next time you have to give a presentation or lead a project, recruit one of your colleagues to be your feedback friend. Ask them to pay extra attention to specific things (like your pacing or your organizational skills) and connect with them immediately afterward for a debrief.
Ask the right questions
To get actionable feedback, you need to ask the right questions. It's not enough to say, "How did I do?" or, "Do you think I could do better?" Get specific with your questions so you have tangible advice to work with. Ask, "What's one thing I could have done better?" or, "What were the strongest and weakest parts of my report?"
Always ask people to back their feedback up with examples. This will make it much easier to pinpoint exactly how you can improve next time.
The feedback you get won't always be what you want to hear. I've received plenty of bad feedback over the years, and it never gets easier to take. During the recession, after we'd dropped $40 million in revenue, people openly questioned if I should be running the company. It was tough feedback to hear, but it forced me to reevaluate my leadership and hire a chief operating officer.
For feedback to work, you have to be open to hearing your colleagues' honest thoughts on your performance. Receiving feedback is about being proactive, not reactive. Instead of taking criticism personally, use it as a tool for growth and development. The more open you are to accepting feedback, the more successful you're likely to become.
More from Brian Scudamore:
Crowdsource feedback all year round
You don't have to wait for your performance review or a project debrief to solicit feedback. Asking for feedback should be an ongoing practice you employ throughout the year. The more often you get real opinions from people who matter, the stronger you'll become, in and out of the office.
Remember: you don't need to accept and adapt to every bit of feedback you get. The way you approach your work is ultimately in your hands. The key is knowing how to ask for, and receive, feedback. It could be the secret to helping you reach your full potential.