Receiving feedback in an effective way as a project manager is as important as being able to give them.
Feedback is a key part of any manager’s skills and contributes enormously to the success of a project.
Without feedback everything remains limited to the “feelings” of the team and the PM himself. Surely a careful reading of the data can be of great help, but what is really happening outside the fence is a whole different story.
The benefits of feedback
For starters, providing feedback, if done regularly, keeps everyone on track and this is convenient for anyone involved in the project.
Feedback saves time that would have been used to correct someone’s work or the regrets of another who has done theirs wrong.
Also, feedback helps to build better relationships between the project manager and the team and between team members.
It is obvious that feedback often involves criticism – something most people don’t feel comfortable with – but if given in the right way, it can help them evolve personally and professionally.
It should be seen as advice, not judgement. The project manager should believe in the members of his team and use the feedback as a tool to help them achieve the project goal first.
The constructive feedback can then serve as a tool to motivate employees and improve their performance. It is about active listening, seeing what everyone can change to improve their attention and results and bringing people together while creating a healthier communication flow.
What are the most important feedback in a project
There are five topics in particular that are the most important when speaking about feedback in a project:
- Do we have a structured approach to the project?
Getting feedback regarding the quality of the project approach is key to achieving properly structured, aligned and productive teamwork. When working on client engagements, it is also advisable to get regular feedback from stakeholders and identify potential communication bottlenecks.
Here are 3 typical elements on which you can get information quite easily:
- Clarity of the project scope (what concerns the project and what does not)
- Definition and communication of key project milestones
- Transparency on project progress monitoring and status updates
2)Are we able to make decisions?
Many initiatives are hindered by poor decision-making. Being able to structure and organize the decision-making process is in fact one of the key skills of a successful project manager. If you want to be sure that the decision-making process runs smoothly, you need to control and receive feedback from:
- Stakeholders and decision-makers
- Project meetings
- Team members
3) Will we delivering the next milestone on time?
Most projects follow a top-down approach with an indirect communication flow. When the project manager asks for updates about the progress of activities, having intermediaries strengthen project information on the front line generates loss of information. Therefore, it is important to ask the team directly if:
- will provide the desired results with high quality standards on time
- possesses all the necessary skills and abilities to achieve its objectives
- is making continuous progress or is experiencing hiccups.
4) Are we good at implementing the decisions we make?
The follow-up of decisions taken is often a project shortcoming. Making sure that no false promises are made in the process is the key to meeting expectations. Therefore, on a regular basis, it is important to ask if:
- Key decisions are duly documented and communicated (e.g. through the minutes of meetings).
- Project decisions always have a high priority
- Implementation risks are correctly identified and associated with mitigation actions.
5) Do we have a clear understanding of the project?
Last but not least is having a clear understanding of the project. The project manager has to ensure that the vision is clear, shared and supported by all stakeholders and therefore has to ask for feedback by asking these questions:
- Does everyone understand the short and long term objectives of the project?
- Are the expected results of the project clear?
- Is it clear to each team member how the team should achieve the desired project targets?
How does the feedback request process work?
Having examined what topics absolutely need regular feedback during a project, let’s now see how an efficient feedback request process works.
- Set feedback objectives
As in all things, you have to decide what the goal is.
A good feedback will help to avoid repeating the same sub-optimal or destructive patterns that hinder a project instead of pushing it forward.
One of the goals not to forget is also to receive feedback with an open mind and a positive and accepting attitude.
- Identify the right people to ask for feedback from
Asking for feedback from every single person you interact with is not productive and can lead to wrong messages.
Not everyone can provide the specific type of feedback you are looking for.
Feedback with multiple perspectives can lead to a thorough perspective on the path to follow, but this does not mean asking everyone indiscriminately.
As a project manager, feedback can come from colleagues, team members, management and clients.
Depending on the question, it is therefore important to limit the request for feedback to those directly involved.
- Prepare questions
The questions you wish to ask in order to receive feedback should be formulated according to the objectives.
If the goal is to improve relations with team members, for example, questions should be asked that specifically relate to the current working climate and interactions.
If the goal is to improve time management, questions will need to be asked in this regard.
In particular, a series of open questions will help to achieve the relevant atmosphere.
- Getting feedback the right way
When the time comes to ask for feedback, you have to be willing to accept the answers with an open mind.
If you are defensive or negatively influenced by comments from others, you will be much less likely to receive honest answers in the future.
- Make a commitment and keep it
The biggest waste of time is getting feedback and doing nothing about it.
Not all feedback will be usable, but most likely you will notice a recurring theme that should serve as an indicator of what specific things need to be improved in the future.
It is important to take action on these things, make the necessary changes and, once done, come back to those who provided the feedback and show the implementation and improvement.
This will send the message that the contribution has been appreciated and will encourage people to continue to contribute honestly and openly in the future.