Be Careful What You Ask For

Most people want feedback.  The people who don’t want feedback often really need feedback.


  • “How am I getting on?”
  • “Am I good at my job?”
  • “What do my colleagues think of me?”
  • “Do my customers rate me?”
  • “What does my boss think of me?”
  • “Do my employees respect me?”
  • “How can I improve?”

They’re all questions we hear a lot, but that people ask of themselves far more often.  Getting feedback is brilliant, but it’s not always honest or helpful.

Customers often go elsewhere without saying a word, not because they were unhappy, but because they think they might be happier elsewhere.  If they were unhappy they may have given feedback as a complaint, and that could have been fixed, building loyalty.  A lack of feedback can lose customers.

The same is true for employees, who may not kick up a fuss if they’re dissatisfied, but might just start scanning LinkedIn for job opportunities.

You may get overlooked for promotion, and not know why, when no-one told you that you don’t speak up enough in meetings, or dress like an executive, or what you think of as “plain speaking” everyone else considers rudeness.


Getting feedback is great, and the best way to get feedback is to ask for it.  Choose who you ask, when and how, carefully.  A direct report may be intimidated by the question, a customer may feel “on the spot”, you may catch your boss at a wrong moment.  Ask in a non confrontational way, when there’s no areas of contention, and you’re in a private setting to get the  best results.

Throwing the question out to everyone may not get you the results you want as the Sydney Herald found when asking for feedback on the monorail system:L


For those of you who don’t recognise the “feedback” received, here’s the source: