Having been on my current team for 9 months, I recently started asking for feedback from my colleagues. My goal is to get a 360 view of how I am doing my job and use these perspectives to keep growing my skills. In this short article, I share how I do this.
(Here, by “Peer Feedback”, I mean feedback from people not directly in my management chain, and this does include people more senior than myself (e.g. my manager’s peers).)
1. Determine the goal
As shared above, my goal is to be better at my job, and I believe fresh perspectives from my colleagues is an excellent data source to reflect upon. This means I will be specifically asking for perspectives on areas I am focusing on. For example, as a PM, if I want to grow my spec-writing skills and don’t plan to focus too much on my UI design skills, then I will explicitly call that out in my feedback requests.
2. Identify the providers
In the last 9 months I’ve interacted with no less than 100 colleagues in my new role, so it wouldn’t make sense to send out a blanket request to everyone I’ve come across. To select my potential feedback providers, I go back to the goal of this exercise, and identify a few cohorts whose feedback would contribute the most to growing my job skills:
|Skill I want to keep improving||Corresponding cohort|
|Collaborating with engineering team||Engineers I’ve worked with|
|Driving product definition||Product and Business Planning colleagues|
|Engaging with customers||Internal customers, or customer-facing teams|
|Inclusivity in a pandemic-induced all-remote workplace||All|
Once these cohorts are identified, I can move on to pinpointing the individuals from these cohorts. Usually I do this by considering which individuals from each cohort have had the most visibilities into how I work. This results in an excel table that looks like this, which we will use later:
3. Send out the feedback requests
At Microsoft, we have an official peer feedback system appropriately called Perspectives, and I imagine other companies may have similar systems. If yours don’t, you can use emails.
I send out my feedback requests in personalized notes – in contrast to a boilerplate request. I believe this not only shows my gratitude for people taking their time to provide feedback, but also helps them write feedback that most effectively help with your goals. Usually I use a template like this:
Hi <First Name>,
I would love to get your feedback on my skill <Skill 1>, since I’ve had the opportunity to work with you on <Project>. Also, I am looking to improve my skill <Skill 2>, and am looking for general feedback. Thank you so much!
Then, I fire up Word and input this template, then turn on “Mail Merge” feature.
I import the data from the abovementioned Excel sheet, including all data fields and the recipients’ email addresses.
When I am done, I can preview all my personalized emails before sending them out.
If you are using emails to request feedback, Word will let you directly send out these emails with Outlook. If, like me, you are using an existing feedback system, you can copy the generated messages to that system.