Asking for a negative feedback is not popular. All we ever want is some ‘constructive criticism’ and that’s about it. We don’t want someone to negatively evaluate us, because it can result in bruised and pain. But, what if we tell you that one way you can grow professionally is by stop being anxious and more prepared for a ‘corrective feedback?’
A Harvard study revealed that a ‘corrective’ feedback is critical in career development. Apparently, when the participants were asked what would be more ‘helpful’ between a positive and a corrective feedback, a whopping 72% chose latter.
Clearly, people value suggestions for improvement and how they can get better at what they do. But, are bosses and leaders always comfortable giving a negative feedback? Nope. So, how can you convince your boss that you are ready to receive criticism?
- Prepare yourself
The first step is to be more self-aware. If you know you are sloppy, overlook important details or lack interpersonal skills then own it up. This way your plan of soliciting a feedback won’t backfire and you won’t come out shell-shocked or regret having this chat at all. The moment you admit your flaws, you will ease your boss and get them ready for the discussion. You can start by saying, “I know I could have finished the project well on time (meaning: I know I did a bad job!), but I seem to be terrible at time management (meaning: I need your help!). Can you please tell me how I can get better? (meaning: I request you to set the course right for me!)”
- Express your resolve to improve
If your boss is reluctant to say anything, then you can perhaps tell your boss about your professional goals. You can start off by saying, you have set some professional goals for yourself and that you want to improve in <insert what you want to be better at>. Seeing your determination, your boss is likely to draw references on how you can improve or even recommend a course. You can also tell them that you really look up to them and that you would like them to mentor you.
Once they decide to mentor you, you can expect them to be transparent in their feedback and expectations from you. They won’t speak in metaphors or drop hints which are difficult to pick or make sense of.
- Be straightforward
Once you know your boss is comfortable with the idea of giving you a corrective feedback then it’s your turn to lead the conversation. Begin with ‘no fluff, direct and on point’ questions. The conversation will be more focused and you will get your answers right away. Say, “What do you think of my presentation in the board meeting?” Your boss may start off by patronizing you or deflect from the topic or give a balanced feedback, but you should stick to the plot. You can say, “How can I make my next presentation better”; “Could you recommend some online tools that I can use the next time?” Being direct, once again means you want to get better at work and learn.
This should help you seek a feedback that will matter to you. Take it in your stride and spend some time reflecting on how you can get going from here. Also, keep your eyes and ears open to pointers you receive on a day-to-day basis. Besides, you can always work out a periodic review of your work so that soliciting corrective feedback and learning from doesn’t become a one-time episode.