Ep 35 // #AskAkua The Best Time To Get Feedback

Ep 35

In this episode of #AskAkua, Akua covers the importance of feedback and how leaders can benefit from opening themselves up to getting and receiving it. Feedback is essential for growth but it's also one of the most challenging things to solicit and act on. Maybe you've been resisting or ignoring feedback because you don't know how to process it or feel overwhelmed by it.

Whatever the reason is, Akua will help you better understand and leverage feedback, and also provide actionable tips on what you can do to make the most of it, especially when it's difficult to hear.  

So if you're ready to get feedback, stay open, and take action, then this episode is for you!

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What's Covered in this Episode About Leadership Feedback

  • Identify key moments when to give and receive feedback
  • Responding constructively to criticism so that you can learn and grow
  • Keep in mind the people who could potentially support you in your career journey
  • Why using templates for reference letters and recommendations can be helpful
  • What you can do if a person you ask feedback from says, "no?"
  • How can you make sure that the time spent coaching pays off for both the client and yourself
  • Why you should leverage technology to get feedback more effectively
  • The internal and external factors that go into thinking about getting feedback
  • How referrals can play an important role in your career development

Special Announcement: 

Want to start taking action and leverage your career journey or story that you have, and show up beyond your business, office, team, or department? Join my waitlist to be part of the next cohort of my program, Uplevel for Thought Leaders, where I teach you how to leverage LinkedIn.

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "If you don't take a second to make the most of your presence beyond what you're currently doing, you risk falling behind those who just spend a little extra energy and time to make sure they're showing up and thinking about how leveraging social media can help them achieve their bigger vision." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "There are two basic ways in which you can check in. And that's first and foremost internally. And so internally, right, that through the reflection internally can also be through leveraging assessments as well. And so that's your opinion, your voice the stories that you tell yourself." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "Getting feedback is incredibly important. And as I mentioned before it starts with you." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Mentioned in #AskAkua The Best Time To Get Feedback

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 35 about The best time to get feedback

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 0:07 Welcome to the open door podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah Chaos respond to Aqua. And yeah, I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised facilitator and former sort of leader that loves supporting reluctant buyer fighting and overwhelmed leaders. I've worked with them to help them clarify where they should focus their time, and energy each and every day so that they can love themselves, love their work, and ultimately love their life. If you're looking to learn leadership information and hear different perspectives, you are in the right place. My aim in this podcast is to help you see that one of the most productive and profitable things you can do is deeply understand yourself. Understand how you show up, understand how you thrive, and allow yourself to align everything in your work in your life, and in your business to support that, think of this podcast as your weekly opportunity to receive leadership support. And remember, there is no one right way to lead yourself or others. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. Let's get started. I get it using social media can be incredibly scary. Maybe you're worried about what to put out there. Maybe you don't want to share that you have specific services or programmes because you don't want to come across desperate. Maybe you feel you might be crucified for having an opposing opinion on something within your industry. Maybe you don't know how you'll be perceived. If you reach out to that amazing founder, potential investor or that human you want to be your mentor. Or maybe you don't even want your employer to know about your other businesses or interest, I totally get it. But here's the thing. If you don't take a second to make the most of your presence beyond what you're currently doing, you risk falling behind those who just spend a little extra energy and time to make sure they're showing up and thinking about how leveraging social media can help them achieve their bigger vision. And this is exactly why I built the up level programme up level for thought leaders is the only programme that's designed for you a busy and maybe sometimes reluctant thought leader to complete your LinkedIn profile and build your presence so you can find and connect with ideal clients, whether they're investors or potential mentorship opportunities and opportunities, whether they're speaking opportunities or being able to join an accelerator in less than six weeks. This comprehensive LinkedIn programme is unlike anything else you've seen online and beyond helping you effectively and efficiently master LinkedIn. It also has the accountability and community to help you get there. So if you're interested in learning a little bit more about my LinkedIn profile, please make sure that you visit w w.akuanm.com slashed up level. I'll be launching it soon. And enrollment will only be open for a limited time the web address again to get access and join the waitlist and learn more about the programme is w w.akuanm.com/up. level that's up l e v e l, let's get into the Episode Hello, and welcome to this hashtag ask Akua episode of the open door conversations podcast. I am really excited about this episode because it's all about the benefits that leaders are able to unlock when they open themselves up to getting and receiving feedback. Right? Quarter one is coming to an end, it's time to check in. And I think the two questions that I'm gonna be covering today are so relevant, and so useful for leaders that may be reluctant to feedback, right? Leaders that may be overwhelmed by feedback, or may have been overwhelmed by feedback in the past, or leaders, most importantly, that continue to firefight instead of reflecting and leveraging feedback they've received at some point in time. All right. So I want to share these two questions. But before I do that, I just want to make sure that those of you who are listening to this or continue listening if you want to know why you should stay open and be open to strategically getting and receiving feedback instead of resisting and ignoring it, because that's really what we're going to be covering today. All right, so let's get into the two questions. And I'm just going to share the two questions because I'm going to answer them quite I think simultaneously. So the first question I received is, how do I ask for a reference letter or recommendation? And I think this is such a great question. And especially since I am launching my LinkedIn programme, honestly it's a thought leadership focus programme. We cover all sorts of things. I also cover the importance of asking for references and recommendations in there. You So I'm gonna share a little bit about what I teach within that programme and relation to this, because it's really worked for me over the last four years. The key thing, though, to think about a reference letter is that it really starts with you. Okay? The second question I have here is, when is it best to get feedback or ask for feedback. And as someone who has conversations for a living, this is something that I think about all the time, all the time, right, because I'm constantly trying to get feedback from people I'm having conversations with, I'm constantly trying to get feedback from people that I'm speaking around or for. And when I'm facilitating, I'm also constantly trying to get feedback as well. So as someone who's had a lot of years of experience, and I would say accelerated experience in both hiring and firing people, and also applying for opportunities myself, and having the opportunity to support leaders at all levels around this idea or concept of trying to build or cultivate your self awareness, it is so so important that you have routines and rituals in place to make sure you're making the most of the time that you are showing up right for yourself and others, right. And so from my perspective, there's three basic ways really to get that feedback to cultivate that self awareness, right, which is that first step in that three step process that I take leaders through, if you want to learn a bit more about the process that I use with supporting leaders, and even about how I think about showing up, make sure that you check out that episode where I talked about the three steps, I think, to become a better leader, I think that's actually the episode and I talked through this and that first step is about cultivating your self awareness. And so there's three ways really to do this, right? When it comes to thinking about when to get feedback, or how to get feedback, the first really is around making sure that you take the time to reflect right. So that's really the first thing putting that into your schedule. And I know I do that, honestly, on a almost daily basis, I do it on a weekly basis. And then most importantly, I do it on a monthly basis. And I keep track of it. And so I actually have a monthly reflections routine, I will put a link to I think, a blog post that I did about this in the show notes. And I also do something that I call start, stop and continue. I also have a podcast episode on that. So I make, I will make sure that that's also linked in the show notes as well. So that's really the first thing making sure that you're carving out time for it, that you're honouring the time to really reflect on that and using the learnings from that to think about how you want to show up. The second thing I wanted to share around sort of, you know, trying to ask for a reference letter recommendation, or the best time to get feedback right around it starting with you is making sure that you invest time, money and energy and assessment. So that's something that you're open to. And once again, that's something that I do a lot. And even in the work that I do, I leverage assessments to help my clients accelerate their self awareness so that they can think about how they're showing up and maybe even think about how they best respond to feedback and the type of feedback that they might need. And then last but not least, constantly asking for feedback and testimonials from those I engage with. And as I mentioned before, my business is really built on referrals. It's really built on other people talking about the experience that they've had working with me. And that's so important. And so once again, I have an entire routine around that. And that's also something that I teach within up level for thought leaders as well. So ultimately, what I'm trying to say here is that there are two basic ways in which you can check in, right. And that's first and foremost internally. And so internally, right, that through the reflection internally can also be through leveraging assessments as well. And so that's your opinion, your voice the stories that you tell yourself, right, asking yourself, Well, okay, internally, do I mostly have sort of negative thoughts going through my mind are more positive thoughts going through my mind, and once again, recognising that negative and positive isn't always necessarily the best way to describe this. But that's really what's coming to mind now. And of course, you can also check in externally. And that's other people's perceptions, right? In my case, it's my clients and my customers. And both are incredibly important. And so when it comes to the two questions that I asked earlier on, or that I've been asked earlier on in terms of this episode, when you are thinking about how to ask for a reference letter recommendation, what you are trying to get is more of that external sort of feedback. And you want to leverage that external feedback for a specific opportunity, or a specific thing that you're looking to achieve. So if I'm taking myself as a case study, when I'm thinking about asking a reference letter recommendation, I always try to make sure that I am providing specific questions. And I also share the outcome I hope, will result based on the reference letter of recommendation that I get. And I think sometimes that's something that we forget to do when we're asking for reference letters or we're asking for a recommendation. I've actually drafted or outlined reference letters and recommendations for people that I want to receive them from. And I'm sure some of you listening to this are like wait, that's sort of like cutting corners or you're not doing it right or that's not the right way to do it. But I promise you right in order to get an effective reference letter recommendation, once again, it really starts with If you and if you're getting a reference letter or recommendation from someone who doesn't really know you, that's not going to do any justice to whatever you're applying for whatever you're looking to do. And I'm not saying that you put words in their mouth, what I'm suggesting is that you give them a template to start off of, or an outline to start off of, because it can be incredibly difficult to give a reference letter of recommendation when you don't understand the intent, and you don't understand the result that that individual wants from that reference letter of recommendation. So it honestly is in your best interest to put something together for them and give them a really good clear picture of where you would like them to go with that reference letter of recommendation. And so from my perspective, and once again, this is something that I teach, I always suggest making sure you have questions that you give them an outline that you give them even an example of what that reference letter can include or what it should include, and the ultimate results that you want with that reference letter or recommendation. Another thing that you should definitely keep in mind when you are asking for a reference letter of recommendation is that the person can say no, and I've definitely said no, because I don't always think I'm the best person to speak to someone's strengths or weaknesses. And I will be like, Hey, I don't think I'm the best person or too much time as a lapse, or, Hey, I don't have the time or capacity. So also be ready to potentially receive a no. And that's why, once again, it starts with you. And so if you make it easy for them, if you're very clear about the deadlines, you've gotten in touch earlier enough, people will typically be a lot more open to doing this for you because it's nerve racking. I know it's nerve racking to ask, but it's also nerve wracking to write them for other people as well. And I think that's something that we all need to keep in mind. And so no matter what level you are within an organisation, no matter where you are in your career, it's always so very important that you are thinking to some extent about the people that could potentially support you in this way, and that you reach out to them, I think in a very intentional manner about once again, what you're looking for and how it's going to be used. Alright, so that's really my first thought in relation to this first question of how to ask for a reference letter of recommendation, you want to make sure that it starts with you that you've done the work that you've outlined the rationale or the reason behind asking this potential person for a letter of recommendation or reference letter, and that they're very much aware of the reason behind it. Right. And I mean, Get really clear, you know, I'll reach out to people and say, Hey, I'm doing this specific thing on my website, I really would love your thoughts on this specific thing. This is something that you shared in the past. Are you okay with it? Or do you want me to rewrite it. And if you've ever gotten an email from me around sort of being open to writing a reference or testimonial for me, you know that I'm very direct, and I always will provide a lot of questions as well, to help you really think through how you can best support me in that way. And once again, there is nothing wrong with that. Because at the end of the day, it's a win win, I'm not wasting their time, and you're not wasting your time. So that's the first thing I just wanted to share around sort of asking for reference letter or recommendation. The second thing here, when is the best time to get feedback. I think that right now, every single day, almost every single hour, and this might sound super overwhelming is the best time to receive feedback. And so what I also want to make sure that I share just to give you a perspective of what that might look like, within an actual leadership position is a video that I did about getting feedback from my team in the past, and sort of walking through what I did, it was really simple. And it was really difficult. And even going back and looking at it, you know, years later is still a really difficult thing. So the first thing I think to keep in mind when it comes to thinking about when is the best time to get feedback, like yesterday is the best time to get feedback. And once again, I will share in the show notes, a video, it may make you laugh, or it may make you sad, depending on how you look at it, of me going back and looking at feedback that I received from members of my team between Ghana and Nigeria. But getting feedback is incredibly important. And as I mentioned before it starts with you. And so around that idea of feedback or cultivating your self awareness, it honestly should start with how do you feel like asking yourself how do I feel today can be a really simple way of starting to build that muscle and a really simple way that gets you to start thinking about the importance of feedback, and how we feel right once again will impact how we show up and ultimately our results. So that's that internal peace once again, that I mentioned earlier on recognising that checking in or getting feedback or cultivating your awareness can be both an internal experience and an external experience or experiment or process. So internal the internal experience, I'd really recommend that you're checking in as often as you can, right maybe before you start a new task before you think about a new responsibility. Before you go into having a meeting you check in with yourself, Steve, see where you are and think about how you need to show up for that next whatever time period is. That's one of the things that I like to do and it really just helps to ground me and it really just helps me think about what are some of the important elements around the conversation I'm going into or around the specific task I want to do relate it to some of the bigger goals that I have. All right. And once again, you can help to Celebrate that or give yourself words of vocabulary around that by leveraging assessments. And so that's something that I've used a lot in my career. And I've used a lot in my business as well. And I know that I've gotten so much confidence from being able to talk about some of these things that are a little bit more nuanced. So that's really the first part in terms of thinking about the best time to get feedback externally, you just really need to build your own rhythm, your own cadence, your own rituals and routines around this. And that's something that I sort of alluded to in the beginning. So when it comes to my clients, when I'm having conversations to that with them, I always am asking throughout the entire conversation, and towards the end of the conversation, right? Was this helpful? What would you like to see more of what would you like to see less of, that's a really great thing for you to keep in mind, if you're a leader, and you are thinking about incorporating coaching like techniques, and to your sort of leadership approach, right? You know, making sure that you have a clear picture of what success looks like for them, you've tried to communicate what your picture of success is to them. And you've also opened yourself up to supporting them by simply just asking, like, how can I support you in this process? Or how can I make sure that you're getting to a point where you have a clear understanding of what sex looks like. So really opening yourself up to that will hopefully give you the feedback that you need to be the best leader that you need to be and really step up into that position. So a lot of sort of the best time to get feedback can be within any conversation that you have, right? And then I'd also recommend that you think about it from the perspective of okay, if I'm working on a specific project or working within a specific organisation, how often do I want that cadence to be you can, of course, leverage technology. And so I share a really simple way you can do that just doing Google forums, and that video that I've linked below, but it doesn't need to be a really expensive software as a service product. It doesn't need to be anything overly complicated. But it just needs to be something that you can keep track of over time, and that you can look back at if you need to. So those are some of the thoughts that I have in relation to thinking about recommendations, feedback, whether it's within your career or your business, I would love to hear from you. What are some of the things that you try to keep in mind when you ask for a recommendation or reference letter? What are some of the things that you keep in mind when it comes to feedback, whether you're thinking about it from the internal perspective, or external perspective, please let me know. Ultimately, I just want to make sure that I remind you that there are so many benefits that come from once again, open yourself up to receiving feedback, opening yourself up to giving and getting feedback as well. So that's my episode for this week. I know it's a little bit shorter. But that's really what I wanted to share. In terms of the questions that I've been receiving recently, I thought that this would be a very helpful episode to get into. Once again, I would just love to remind all of you listening to this, that my launch for my upcoming programme up level is coming up. I would love for you to at least join the masterclass, it's absolutely free. And it's a really great way for you to start to think about how you're showing up, especially within the social media space. And also think about how you can leverage some of the tools some of the things that I share, not just in social media, but also in how you show up as a leader within your life, your business or within your career. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen, stay safe and stay sane. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please share it with your friends. We can continue this conversation on social media the links to my socials so that is LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. You can find them in the show notes. If you tagged me in a story and include the hashtag hashtag ask Akua I will share a special little gift with you. Thank you so much once again for your time and I cannot wait to share my next episode with you stay safe and sane.


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