Want Helpful Feedback at Work? Here’s How to Get It

One of the best ways to learn and improve on the job is through obtaining feedback from others. But if you’re a millennial, I don’t have to tell you that­ - you probably already crave feedback. In fact, in a global survey conducted by SAP SuccessFactors and Oxford Economics, millennials indicated that they want feedback 50% more often than other employees.

Problem is, according to a recent Gallup report, only 19% of millennials say they receive routine feedback. And only 17% say the feedback they do get is meaningful.

If you’re not getting the routine feedback you’d like, the best solution is to simply ask. According to that same Gallup report, only 15% of millennials strongly agree that they routinely ask for feedback. To help you get the feedback you want, I’ve rounded up 5 tips to help you along the way.

1. Don’t wait for your annual review.

While some organizations offer an annual performance review, there are many other times throughout the year that you would benefit from obtaining feedback. Rather than waiting for the infrequent annual meeting, create opportunities to get feedback more often. This could mean setting up monthly or quarterly check-ins, or perhaps a meeting before or after a big project. Bonus: asking for feedback while your work is fresh in the minds of others will typically get you a richer, more detailed response.

2. Ask for specifics.

A statement like “I’d welcome your feedback” or question like “What feedback do you have for me?” is so open-ended that people often don’t know how to respond. Create a list of questions that inspire more honest and specific answers that will actually help you grow. I personally really like the commonly used model:

  • What should I stop doing?

  • What should I keep doing?

  • What should I start doing?

Another approach is to ask for “one thing” which works particularly well for quick, intermittent feedback. For example, “What’s one thing I could have done differently when managing X project?”

3. Avoid yes or no answers.

Be careful in your attempt to get specific answers that you don’t narrow yourself with closed-questions that could be answered with a simple yes or no. For example, you’re likely to get a much more helpful response from “What’s one thing I could do improve my leadership of X team?” than “Am I handling the team lead role in an acceptable way?”

4. Seek feedback from more than your boss.

While your supervisor is a great person to ask for feedback, let’s face it, there are a lot more people you probably interact with on a regular basis who can give you great insight as well. Consider colleagues, clients, subordinates, and mentors, too. Taking a multi-faceted approach can give you a more comprehensive perspective and help you develop in different areas than if you had simply asked for one person’s point of view.

5. Express appreciation.

Feedback isn’t easy to give, and you want to make sure that the person who provided it knows that you genuinely appreciate their honesty. Rather than get defensive or dismissive, let the person know that you really heard what they had to say and thank them for making the effort to help you improve. If you need time to process what they shared or return with a strategy to make changes, let them know that too.


Now I’d love to hear from you: what questions have you found to be most helpful when seeking constructive feedback?