3 easy ways to get honest and constructive feedback

By Robert Half on 13th September 2015

When starting a new job or project team, asking for feedback can often be uncomfortable. While your employer may have formal appraisal processes in place, often you want constructive feedback on how well you are performing on a far more regular basis. 

To encourage colleagues to be open and honest with you can sometimes be challenging when you are new to a team. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to remove any obstacles and create a much more open workplace where giving feedback is accepted, and even welcomed.

Understand how your colleagues work

A sense of camaraderie often builds up between work colleagues, particularly those who have worked together closely on projects and know how their teams operate. It's only natural therefore that these people speak to each other openly and honestly, providing constructive feedback on how they think tasks and responsibilities have been tackled.

Getting to a position where you work seamlessly within a team requires an understanding of how they work. Start by asking for feedback on how they typically handle projects or tasks. This will help establish a dialogue on how they work and what standards they work towards. Giving you valuable insight into their expectations and providing you with knowledge about how they approach similar tasks. That way before starting a task or project, let alone asking for feedback, you will have an understanding of your colleague’s expectations.

Take the time to listen

When people start a new job or join a project, they can be excited to get started and sometimes miss small details that can be useful later on. That is why carefully listening to what your colleagues say is important as it will dictate what feedback they will provide you. If your colleagues feel confident you are listening to their advice, then they will be more willing to take interest and provide constructive feedback. So when you are the newest member on the team, show people you are paying attention to everything that others say. Even small body language gestures such as nodding your head, maintaining eye contact and engaging with them on the subject they are talking about will make a difference. It demonstrates to the other person that you value what they say and are keen to listen, laying the foundation for constructive and honest feedback. 

Create a culture of sharing feedback

If you feel your colleagues are doing a particularly good job at something, then say so. It’s okay to provide advice. By periodically inserting constructive feedback – both constructive and praise – into conversation, your colleagues will do the same. It creates a culture of mutual honesty and sharing in the workplace, so there's no – or at least far less – awkwardness around asking about your performance.

Feedback received, now what?

The most important point of all is to make sure that you act on the feedback you receive. Discuss the steps you are going to take to improve. Then demonstrate to the person who rated your performance how you are going to take it on board, in the spirit in which it was meant.

When you’re new to a role or team, asking for feedback shows your colleagues that there is a good reason and a lasting benefit to giving constructive feedback. It will ultimately benefit you in understanding the business, the workforce you have joined, and help towards your career development

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