It is easy to say you want to know if someone has feedback for you but it may be tough to go ask for it. Tougher still to hear it. One of the best relationship enhancers you can put to use is referred to as “The 3-3-3” and here is how it works. First, you select a handful of candidates to solicit feedback from and ask them independent of one another to take a few days and ponder the following:
- What are three things, from your perspective, that I do that help our working/personal relationship?
- What are three things I do that you don’t view as helpful?
- What are three things I don’t do that you think if I did them would help our relationship?
- You will meet with your candidates one-on-one for your feedback session.
When you make the request for them to participate in this exercise, ask that they give you examples, as best they can, that illustrate the feedback they will be providing.
Your candidate may think this is a set-up or be terrified to be candid; thinking you might retaliate against them. If either one of those side effects is a possibility, don’t solicit the feedback. Be very cautious sharing with others that are connected to your candidates any part of the feedback they offered. Keep it to yourself. Trust is essential to successful relationships. If you have more power in the relationship than your candidate they may be more afraid to offer feedback than you are to receive it.
One of my coaching clients said she had the courage to do “The 1-1-1” and I supported her approach! It’s gutsy to solicit feedback. And, it is an important skill you will want to develop in order to become reasonably happy and highly successful in relationships.
Let your candidate know that you will follow up with them on a certain date and time that works for both of you and that you would appreciate their candor. Have a start and stop time for your feedback session and refrain from offering them feedback even if they ask for it. Tell them you would be glad to reciprocate and set a date with them to do that. This session is simply and completely about the feedback they have for you.
On the appointed day, remind yourself to forgo being defensive and up your game as a listener. If your candidate gives you feedback – either positive or negative – that you can’t relate to try saying this. “I must have a blind spot about that, do me a favor and give me a gentle nudge in private the next time you see me do that.” Close the session with a sincere thank you for the feedback.
Look for opportunities to solicit feedback and to be a role model on how to receive it!