Want Feedback? Ask Your Teammates

One of the many great things I picked up while working at Whole Foods Market was the concept of self generated peer reviews. Part of the “job dialogue” (annual review) included asking those peers who directly depend upon you a few key questions about how satisfied they were with your job performance.

The feedback was anonymous and went directly to your supervisor for use in the job dialogue. I thought it was great and adopted it in my later positions with other companies.

You can do this too, and it doesn’t always have to be anonymous.  I recently sent out a questionnaire to all my teammates regarding the last six months, a period in which I was working from home rather than in their midsts.  I received some really good constructive feedback about what was working and what needed improvement.  It’s surprising how frank (those darn QA guys!) and valuable the feedback can be.

Pick Your Most Frequent “Customers”

To get started, you need to determine who your customers are within the organization.  I’m somewhat the hub of a wheel that includes developers, support, QA, and some upper management. So, my little missive went to a few key people in all of those areas.  Think about who you touch and who directly depends upon you. Try to keep it within 4-10 people to make the little poll manageable. This is going to be your target audience.

Keep It Simple

You don’t want to take up your customers’ time with a big long questionnaire. Keep it short and simple. I find the ‘ole, classic Keep/Start/Stop list is a great starting point.  What are you doing right that you can keep doing? What can you start doing differently to serve them better? What’s not working so well that you can stop doing?

Just Ask…Nicely

Once you have your target audience and the short feedback questions, fire off an email in which you state that you’re trying to improve yourself and serve them better. Would they mind taking a few minutes to give you a little feedback? Then just fire it off and wait for the results.

Be Ready To Take Action

You have to be sincere about this effort.  Don’t expect the feedback will be all wine and roses. You’ll get some suggestions, so you need to take time to review the feedback thoughtfully, and if it makes sense, make some changes.

Thanks and Here’s What I’m Doing

As the feedback rolls in, make sure you thank them for taking the time to respond. Then, once you’ve had a chance to review the feedback and devise a plan, send a follow up email letting them know what you took from the comments, and what you plan to do.  Then, of course, follow through.  People will not take you seriously if you peter out once you’ve said you were going to make some specific changes.

This technique can strengthen the team overall and make you a better employee.  It can also be pretty eye opening to find out how your work directly impacts other people and can help you understand other perspectives within your organization. You can use this as a self improvement tool, and it can also (with reuse/sharing permission) be used as a tool in your annual review. Happy polling.

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