Feedback (Part V) – Ask Specific Questions

Remember we are starting our series with asking for and receiving feedback.

In our first blog post on feedback, we identified four ways to obtain feedback for yourself:

1. Seek Clarity
2. Stop, Start, Continue
3. Specific Questions
4. Making an Effective Feedback Request

Today we continue to the third.

3. Specific Questions

Many businesses recognize the need for feedback, yet often all they truly want is to appear that feedback is important to them. They do not actually want to attain the information and make the changes. How do I know this? First, many businesses do not ask for feedback in a way that is designed to elicit information. And second, many businesses do nothing to implement the feedback question markor even to let you, the feedback-giver, know that they have received and are considering it.

In any area where you would like to either improve or get a good read on how others perceive you, you will want to ask very specific questions designed to get information that is useful to you. Here are some tips to obtain the most useful information.

a. Do not ask closed-ended (yes or no) questions, such as “would you refer us to others?” “Are we doing a good job?” “Are we meeting your expectations?” Do ask, “How do you feel about this policy or product?” “What did you think about that new practice we implemented?” “What is your favorite thing and your least favorite thing about doing business with us?” “How could we make your experience with us even better?” These are examples of open-ended questions designed to elicit information.

b. Do not ask “how are we doing on a scale of 1 – 10?” This does not give you substantive information. It is like asking “do you like us?” Or “how much do you like us?” If they say you are a “7,” what does that do for you? If they say you are a “10,” you still don’t know WHY you are a “10” or how to stay a “10.” Even if your customers and clients think you’re great, the information you really need is WHY do you think I am great? You want to know what is repeatable to continue giving service that they like.

c. Do ask open-ended questions about where you can improve. “What is our biggest challenge?” “What would you like to see us improve?” Know that there is always something they think you can improve. It can be tempting to try, with your questions, to steer people toward feel-good feedback, but that is only half of the question (if that). The real gold in becoming the go to, best of the best business, is hearing how clients and customers answer the question, “what can we improve?”

d. Do ask for factual information:q mark and bolt

• What do we do best?
• What do we need to work on?
• What do you like best about this particular service?
• What do you like least about this service?

e. Do create an atmosphere where the person you are asking knows beyond a doubt that feedback is important to you, that you will take it constructively, that you will appreciate it, and that you WANT it.

For example, if you are in management, it is imperative that you find out how your employees feel you are doing. They see things you do not see. Not many managers seek feedback from their employees. And often those who do, do not seek it sincerely or in a way that gives the employee real permission to give the feedback.

Finally, as alluded to in the beginning of this blog, acknowledge the feedback you have received. Thank your feedback-givers. And if you see value in making changes based on what they have told you, be sure to let them know that you are.

About the Author

Picture of Cami McLaren

Cami McLaren

is the owner of McLaren Coaching. She has been coaching professionals and leaders since early 2008. She runs Transformative Coaching Essentials, a coach training program that produces first rate Professional Coaches and "Coach-Style Leaders." She coaches individually and works with organizations to improve communication, time management, productivity and ultimately bring greater results.

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