Realize that opening yourself to get feedback from others is risk free! They will have their perceptions of you regardless of your openness to feedback! You are better off knowing it then not.
The lack of candor in the workplace is the single biggest reason for bad performance. It is often the cause of office politics. Candor is the ability to engage in healthy criticism. Nitpicking is a lack of candor.
In the corporate world, exit interviews are the wrong attempts at candor. Another wrong attempt is the 360 feedback. Anonymity is not candor! And it should be a two way street!
Don’t be candid with just everyone.
Always request feedback from your manager on how you are doing on a project. Ask your boss for one item to improve on. Get him to give you the ultimate result he will measure you by. Work towards it and give him periodic feedback.
When you screw up, come clean and propose a solution to prevent future occurrences.
If someone is not candid with you, it is your problem. They likely fear the relationship will be damaged. Only you can change that fear. Find out what is making them think that and fix it!
Once you have a safe space, start with a phone call or a cup of coffee. Most importantly, make them understand that you appreciate and value candor.
Put in the effort to have pleasantries, etc in email. Greetings, thank yous, etc.
Find people you respect. Do not be candid with everyone. Some people you highly respect may not have the business acumen of what you’re trying to achieve. They are great lifelines for life, but probably not for work.
Create the opportunity. Give advanced notice (e.g. via email) with some context (what issue you’re having, why you picked him, etc). Let them know you want real criticism and not validation/compliments.
Treat any feedback as a gift: Ensure you express gratitude for it.
Acknowledge Your Faults: Acknowledge up front that you have shortcomings that need working on.
Tell the other person what you plan to do with their advice. Don’t get angry or defensive. Say you’re collecting feedback from multiple folks. “I’ll get back to you on this if you want.”
Don’t tell them what you want to hear. Begin generally and let the other person come up with something specific. If they vacillate or avoid, emphasize with “Really, I mean it. I would deeply appreciate it.” Then pause and let them speak. This is the key!
But don’t lead by specifying some faults and asking others to confirm.
Ask specific questions: Once you have feedback, bring up specific examples (that you shouldn’t in previous step).
Take it or leave it, but deliver on safety: You don’t have to act on the criticism, but don’t disagree with it. Ensure you express appreciation for it.
Paying Them Back: Don’t respond with candid feedback unless they ask for it.
Once you’ve established a safe place and candor, do give candid feedback (to those who want you to).
Don’t be candid when angry (e.g. temper flareups). Try to be candid quickly before it gets to the explosive point.
Don’t preface criticism with compliments or positives (but bomb).
Self serving bias: We internalize our success but externalize our failure. But we internalize other’s failures, and externalize their successes.
Don’t avoid candor to protect people’s feelings. You are really doing it to serve yourself and not them. If the relationship fails because of candor, that’s fine (assuming they want candor).
Beware of the desire to shame others. Don’t do this and hide behind candor.
The only way to know if the feedback is accurate is to ask many people and see commonalities.
Never refute, argue or be defensive.