Young Alumni: 6 ways to prepare yourself for receiving feedback at work

For any employee, whether a recent hire or a seasoned professional, feedback is incredibly important for understanding our performance at work. Feedback from others can give us clarity and insight into our own processes, paving the way for improvements and growth. Some workplaces have an existing culture of feedback, with frequent opportunities for reflection between colleagues. However, for those who have less time for exchanging constructive observations at work, asking for feedback is crucial. 

By asking for your coworkers’ opinions, you demonstrate ownership of your career and a willingness to grow and improve. Asking for feedback demonstrates that you feel a sense of responsibility to your goals, and it also helps you connect your personal contributions to the overarching work of your organization. In addition, when you ask for feedback, you contribute to the culture of your organization and help make it a place where constructive dialogue between colleagues is accepted and welcomed. The more you request feedback, the more you will be trusted as someone who can provide thoughts to others as well. To make the most of the professional feedback you receive, there are several steps you can take:

  1. Know your goal. What are you hoping to gain from this feedback? What kind of insight or guidance are you looking for? What do you hope to learn? Having this in mind can help you ask the right questions and get the clarity you need.
  2. Identify the proper people to ask for feedback. Who has the most visibility to your work? For young professionals, it will usually be your supervisor, but a remote work environment can also influence this. If you’re working from home and you have less contact with your supervisor, you may need to ask for feedback more frequently to make sure you’re on track. As you grow in your career, getting feedback from teammates and peers is also important. Knowing what your team members need from you will help you focus your work and your collaborative efforts. 
  3. Ask the right questions. Open-ended questions are your best bet when asking for feedback. Some starting points include: What should I continue doing that’s working? What’s not working? What am I not doing that I should start doing now? It can also be helpful to check in on milestones or timelines for projects that had been previously established. Give the feedback provider time to gather their thoughts on your questions and prepare their suggestions, as this will provide for a better conversation for both of you. 
  4. Take notes. Taking notes during a feedback session is respectful and shows that you are really listening. Furthermore, thorough notes will help you remember and implement the feedback once you’ve had some time to reflect on your colleague’s suggestions. 
  5. Receive feedback openly. Don’t go into a feedback session expecting a certain response or praise, and don’t try to justify or explain away criticism. The person providing you feedback is doing so out of a desire to help you, and what they are telling you reflects their experience and what they have observed. Knowing that some feedback may be hard to hear, remember to show gratitude to the feedback provider and resolve to graciously reflect and act on the response you receive.
  6. Make an action plan. Take time to reflect on the feedback you have received and possible next steps. Ask your feedback provider if they would be willing to help you implement these steps. Some things can be difficult to correct on your own, so ask for help! Eventually, as you receive more feedback over time, you will get better at implementing changes and identifying areas that require improvement. 

Ultimately, the feedback of your teammates is one of the best metrics available to understand how you are performing at work, and asking for it is a lifelong process. Especially for young professionals, it can be difficult to know what success looks like in a new role. Honest feedback from a coworker will help you focus on your work and decide how best to move forward. By intentionally requesting, receiving, and implementing professional feedback, you will set yourself up for a career of growth and achievement.

If you are in search of additional career advice and counseling, reach out to Piper Center Associate Director of Alumni Career Services Jenele Grassle. More resources and a link to book an appointment with Jenele are available on the Alumni Career Services page.