How to Get Constructive Feedback in Project Management
As a professional brainstormer and operations management whiz. I have found that the most successful way to get constructive feedback from the people you’re managing is to ask very specific questions, but this is easier said than done in most project settings.
In the UX design sprints, you let people find solutions with time and the ability to process in a setting without any distractions. Most people don’t appreciate rapid fire questioning because it feels like an interrogation and most people’s brains can’t respond that way. This is critical in a brainstorming phase, and when asking for feedback. Because people need to feel comfortable with sharing ideas that may not be fully formed and may need time to refine their thoughts.
For example people don’t respond to open-ended questions when they’re being asked to provide feedback. We know this because in a brainstorming or troubleshooting phase when you ask a vague question with a leading answer or bias, team members are less likely to respond.
It’s critical for managers and supervisors to demonstrate what it means to have an idea be critiqued and have feedback provided in a safe way in order to encourage their direct reports to share their own opinions constructively.
Instead of asking a more open-ended question like: “does anyone have any feedback about the current project plan?” This is too broad and most people, especially people who are neurodivergent, may fixate on different points of the project timeline versus what you’re actually asking. Instead if you’re trying to get direct feedback about a project, it’s important to frame it in a way that is super specific for your clients. You can ask, “Where should we begin with product research for project x based on this timeline?”
One thing I’ve learned in project management is that people don’t generally offer open-ended feedback because it’s hard to know exactly what someone is looking for.
For example, if you’ve ever completed a survey where someone asks you, “how was your experience today on a scale of 1 to 10?” Most people aren’t going to know how to specifically answer that but if the survey question asks something more specific like, “How was your experience during the checkout phase of your visit today? Was it easy to input your personal information in the form fields? Were you prompted to enter a promotional code?” That’s a pretty straightforward question and people who respond are more likely to give an affirmative answer in that scenario because they have a strong feeling about it.
The idea of troubleshooting and problem solving is to get people’s opinions but also have it shared in a constructive way and it’s important for managers to share this experience with their team members before asking for feedback. If a behavior isn’t modeled, how are team members expected to mimic it?
As a business coach, operations whiz and professional brainstormer organization is a huge part of my project management style, but I’ve found a lot of project management tips lack emphasis on interpersonal communication skills — including how to constructively share and ask for feedback in a project setting.