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Posted by Insightlink on 04/02/15

10 Ways to Get Candid Feedback

With so many articles and blogs written about bad bosses, do you ever wonder if you might be one? It is rare to find someone who is completely and totally self-aware. Most of us have a few blind spots about ourselves and don’t know all our strengths and weaknesses. Still, self-awareness is one of the most critical leadership competencies and is considered by many to be the single most important predictor of leadership success.
Feedback is one way to close the gap between how we see ourselves and how others see us. To make it meaningful and actionable you want the feedback to be honest, which is hard to get, especially from people who don’t want to offend or upset you.
Management and Leadership expert Dan McCarthy gives us 10 great ways to get candid feedback and he recommends that when you do get it, keep your mouth closed and just say thank you!

Here are 10 ways to get candid feedback:

1. Take a 360 assessment*. 360 assessments are employee surveys, that ask your boss, peers, and employees for ratings and comments regarding your behaviors and or skills.

2. Try the “10-10” Technique. First, identify something you want to improve – say leading a meeting, delegating, listening, or conducting a one on one. Then, at the end of an interaction with someone, (it only takes a few minutes), ask the question: “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate my listening skills?” If it’s anything less than 10, ask the follow-up question: “What would I need to do for you to rate me a 10?”
It works well because it gives you very specific ideas for improvement, in terms of what’s important to the other person. It opens up dialog in a non-threatening way, builds trust, and creates a win-win developmental partnership.

3. Ask a recruiter. Good recruiters make their living sizing candidates up quickly. They can take a look at your resume and after a 15 minute phone screen, have a pretty good idea about your strengths and weaknesses. However, you have to ask them for a candid, constructive, brutally honest assessment. Again, just listen, keep your mouth shut, and say thank-you.

4. Try Feedforward. An alternative to the 10-10 technique. Instead of asking for examples of past behavior, you are asking for advice on how to be more effective in the future. People will be much more comfortable with this, but you get the same constructive information.

5. Watch yourself on video. A good way to get feedback on your presentation skills. This used to be a terrifying way to learn about yourself, although in the age of YouTube, perhaps we’re getting used to seeing ourselves on camera. It’s even better if you have a coach or trainer watch with you to point things out and offer tips for improvement. If you have a thick skin, invite a bunch of friends over and break out the popcorn and beer.

6. Take a leadership course. Many leadership courses include some kind of assessment feedback. Many include a combination of 360 assessment, personality, feedback from class participants, and from the instructor.

7. Take a validated, reliable personality assessment. Try the Hogan, MBTI, DISC, or others and again, have someone help your interpret the results.

8. Job interviews. Again, like with getting feedback from a recruiter, you really have to ask in a nice way, and make sure you: listen, keep your mouth shut, and say thank-you. Even if you’re not looking for a job, it’s a good idea to go on a practice interview every so often.

9. Ask your boss this question: “Not that I’m going anywhere, but if you had to replace me, what would you look for in the ideal candidate?” This one’s a little risky, because you don’t want to give your boss any ideas, but if you have a lot of confidence, you could pull it off.

10. Ask your teenage kids. I saved this one for last, because it’s the most brutal kind of feedback of all! It’s only for the very brave-hearted and thick-skinned.

*For more information about 360 Surveys or our other employee survey services please contact Insightlink at

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