FROM PRIVATE SECTOR TO GOVIE PART 2: THE IMPORTANCE OF REQUESTING 360 FEEDBACK
In the post “From Private Sector to Govie: Taking Charge of your Government Career,” I shared three things to help you jump start your career as a govie. On part 2 of this post, I want to share the importance of requesting and receiving 360 feedback. In my previous job in the private sector, performance assessments were a highly involved process where not only your supervisors provide feedback, but everyone you work with (peers, customers, stakeholders, etc.). This provides a more complete picture of who you are and what you bring to the table, not only from a supervisor perspective, but form the perspective of the people you interact with every day. I found these 360 feedback assessments to be highly effective and useful. While some government agencies may have similar assessment processes, for the most part, they are less involved than in the private sector. This probably means that you only receive feedback from your immediate supervisor. If this is the case in your agency, here is what YOU can do to ensure you receive feedback from the people you work with. Although feedback is normally requested when you are completing your performance assessment, you don’t have to wait for that time of the year to actually request feedback. Here is how you can request feedback from key players:
From your supervisor(s): It is important to get feedback from your supervisor but sometimes we don’t know how or when to ask. Here is my advice: Draft a short list (preferably no more than 4 or 5 bullets) of things you’ve worked on and would like feedback on. It will be easier for your supervisor to work from a prescribed list of things, rather than coming up with all of it. Send it via email and provide them at least a week or two to provide the feedback. Let them know that their feedback will help you identify areas of improvement which will ultimately benefit your supervisor and organization.
From your peers: Who knows your work better than the people you work with day in and day out? Your coworkers probably know your strengths and weakness very well and it is helpful to get honest feedback from them. You can ask for their feedback on a specific project you worked with them or on your general performance. This request can be less formal than your supervisor’s, but I’d still advise you to provide a list of no more than one or two things you want your colleagues to provide feedback on.
From your customers or stakeholders: These are generally the people who your work has an impact on. Whether they are customers, clients or stakeholders, you probably interact with these people the most throughout your day. They can provide feedback on your customer service, communication and conflict resolution skills. Again, make it easier for people to give you feedback by providing a list of things you’d like them to provide feedback on. Point out a specific situation where you interacted with them and ask specific questions about your performance. For example, you can say: “Last week I provided support to you on XX issue. Would you be willing to provide some feedback on my communication skills in this specific situation?”
Feedback is crucial for our professional growth, yet we often don’t ask for it regularly. Asking for feedback can seem like a daunting task but getting in the habit of doing it regularly will eventually make it easier. Don’t expect to always receive praise and positive feedback; be ready to receive constructive criticism and make it a goal to improve upon the things that are pointed out to you. The feedback that is going to help you improve the most is the one that points out things to improve or work on. Don’t be discouraged by it, embrace it and get to work!