These questions make feedback fearless

The questions we ask determine the feedback we receive.

Whether we’re searching for more clarity, context, coaching or correction in our work, feedback can help us improve. But how we ask for feedback determines the kind of help we receive. To get the fearless feedback that brings much-needed results, we need to align our ask — to choose the right question for the right goal.

Some questions derail feedback from the start. They limit the flow of information, point the conversation in the wrong direction, or come disguised as statements. They simply don’t do the job of getting the feedback we need.

Is there a better way to ask for feedback? Funny you should ask!

These questions, compiled by Steven Rogelberg and colleagues, provide a broad framework for generating feedback insights based on specific needs. (Steven will be joining me on an upcoming episode of I Wish They Knew, so stay tuned for more ways to improve your 1:1 conversations with others.)

Seeking guidance

Ask these questions to gather solutions or express your need for additional resources, input, or support.

  • I’m struggling with this problem. Can you help me solve it?
  • Who else do you recommend I speak to about this? Where can I turn for additional support?
  • Can you suggest alternatives to my current approach? What am I missing here?

Setting expectations

Ask these questions to better understand how you should spend your time and order your priorities.

  • Given what is on my plate, what should I be prioritizing right now, and can you help me understand why?
  • As you review my workload, am I taking on the right projects and tasks?
  • Am I on track for meeting my goals and your expectations from your perspective? Is any refocusing necessary?
  • Is there any context I might be missing about the projects I am working on?

Developing your career

Ask these questions to identify growth areas and how to advance your knowledge and skills.

  • Which areas of my work could benefit from additional development?
  • What should I target as my next career move, and why do you recommend that position?
  • How can my skills best support our team and organization right now?
  • How can we make sure that my full potential is achieved?

By aligning our ask, we can get higher-quality feedback that helps us raise our awareness, boost our performance and expand our professional path. Not only will we help others deliver feedback that’s more focused and useful, but we might just be surprised by the answers they provide.

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