The Importance of Feedback

As we progress in our careers, we can often find it hard to assess how well we are doing both in our personal achievements and in comparison to the industry as a whole. In this blog we’ll discuss the importance of feedback and the best way to ask for, receive and act on it.

Why do I need feedback?

Feedback is essential to developing your career. Not only does asking for feedback open an honest dialogue with your manager but it also allows you to understand where you’re performing well in the role and where you need to concentrate your efforts on development and making improvements.

This is vital in order to continuously improve your job performance and ultimately progress your career forward.

As well as formal feedback from a manager, you could also look at the PMO Competency Framework. Using the framework to complete a self assessment will provide a clear idea of both your strengths, and areas that you may need to revisit and improve.

Online membership with the House of PMO allows you to complete this self assessment online, so you can track both you are currently in your career, as well as your progress. This can be fantastic for performance reviews and appraisals, where you may need to provide evidence of your experience and achievements. For corporate members, managers are able to see an overview of employees progress.

Think about the last time you were asked to provide feedback – who was it for? Why were you asked to give it? How was it received? How was your feedback used?

When to Ask?

The first step is deciding when is the best time to ask for feedback. There can be obvious formal times to request feedback from your line manager, for example, at your performance review, or at the conclusion of a large project. If working on a project or programme you may also have scheduled meetings to monitor progress where feedback is critical.

However, there is nothing to suggest that feedback is only welcome at a project or performance review, or even in a formal context.

Feedback can be provided informally, for example, at the completion of a project your manager might let you know that you’ve done a good job. This is a great opportunity to follow up with some more questions either in person or via email.

How to Ask?

When asking for, or providing feedback, a great way to stimulate a productive conversation is to ask open questions, using What, Why, When, How, Where and Who. Let’s take a look at some examples below:

What – What do you think you/I did well? What do you think could have been improved? What are the key takeaways you have made from this project? What are your goals for the next month/project/year/etc.? What did you most/least enjoy?

Why – Why is this area important to my development?

When – When will my next performance review be?

How – How well did you/I meet expectations? How could you/I improve? How could you be supported better in your career progression? How do you see yourself progressing?

Where – Where are the gaps in your/my knowledge/experience?

Who – Who can I go to for help with …?

What to expect?

In a typical scenario, say in a performance review between an employee and their line manager, nothing should come as a surprise.

In this scenario feedback is given both ways, you may want to think about what aspects of your role or any particular task you have enjoyed or not enjoyed, any tasks you were able to excel at or underperformed in.

This should also be an opportunity to ask each other questions, as outlined above, and you should come away with a clear idea of areas of improvement, how to improve in these areas, what you’ve done well and when you can expect to have your next feedback session, whether that be in a meeting, a gated review, or a performance review.

What to do with it?

Firstly say thank you.  The individual has taken the time to provide you with feedback, and they need to be thanked for their efforts.

When feedback is provided to you, there may be some areas that can be improved more quickly than others – for example you might need to read up on Benefits Management, or attend an upcoming webinar. Other tasks, such as improving your communication might take a more conscious effort over a period of time.

However, it is also important to note that you have the opportunity to reject it!  If somebody has provided you with feedback and described actions, emotions and assumptions that you just don’t recognise, ignoring it is an option.

However, you do need to think carefully about doing this.  Is this something that you don’t recognise to be true, or has the person providing your feedback seen something that is in your ‘Blind Self’?

Johari’s Window theory talks of 4 selves –

  • Open Self – information about you that both you and others know
  • Blind Self – information about you that you don’t know, but others do
  • Hidden Self – information about you that you know, that others don’t
  • Unknown Self – information about you that neither you, nor others know

Has the person providing feedback raised something which you do not know to be true, or have they brought your attention to something that you had not considered in yourself before?

At PMO Learning, we love to hear what our delegates have to say – your feedback helps us improve our training, and in turn provide you with the best service possible.

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