Do you know there is one tip that is guaranteed to help you advance your career? Do you know that it doesn’t require much effort either, but almost no one uses it.

It is simply – ask for feedback.

Let’s discuss feedback for a minute. For the majority of us, we get lackadaisical performance reviews once or twice a year that don’t really offer any insight into our performance. At best, they are mediocre yardsticks and at worst the potential for politics run amok.

But, if you want to push ahead to the next level you have to ask for feedback regularly and proactively. You can’t adjust your behavior if you don’t know what adjustments you need to make. Also, feedback discussions, if you have a good manager, allow you to build rapport with your manager and your team.

 

Below is an action plan to get you started.

1.Learn how to ask for feedback

The first step in using feedback, is to know how and when to ask for it. People who have studied organizations or even animal behavior (Thanks Pavlov!) know that feedback needs to be timely to be useful. The worst thing ever is finding out months or years later that something you did, which could have been corrected,

2.Open yourself up to criticism

We all know that one person. The person who asks you for your “honest opinion,” but then fights when you tell them something they don’t want to hear. Don’t be that person. If you ask for feedback, the first step is you have to be open to receive it. Our automatic response is to get defensive, but the first thing to remember is that most feedback isn’t personal.

3. Learn how to give feedback

There is an art to giving feedback. Part of the corollary to #1 is that not everyone knows how to give feedback that is useful to the person receiving it. Some folks browbeat you, some folks make it personal and some aren’t specific enough. Before you give anyone feedback, know what outcome you would like to achieve. This will help you structure the conversation.

4. Create an action plan for how you will use feedback

Feedback is useless to you if you don’t act upon it. After you have received your feedback session, create an action plan for how you will incorporate it to make changes. Ideally this should be done with your manager so that you can create action items that you can measure your progress against.

Feedback is the most useful tool you aren’t currently using.