Seeking Proactive Feedback from Your Manager
Feedback is a critical component of our work. We need to understand whether our performance aligns with what is expected of us. We need to know what we are doing well, what we need to change and how we could improve. We need help to discover opportunities to advance our careers.
One of the common grievances of professionals is that their managers rarely give them adequate feedback. These feelings are not totally unfounded. Managers tend to be busy and deliver feedback only during cursory performance reviews. And, instinctively, managers fear confrontation: they assume that their employees may respond to even the slightest criticism with anger, defensiveness and alienation. Employees, for their part, resent feedback because they dislike being criticized.
This article suggests what you can do to effectively secure feedback from your manager. I have shared this process with several professionals who have successfully adopted it to further develop relationships with their managers.
•Set up regular meetings with your manager to seek feedback. Do not wait for the quarterly or annual performance reviews to solicit it.
•Prepare and send an agenda to your manager at least one day prior to your meeting. Use the questions in the following section to guide your discussions and agenda. Tailor the questions to suit your unique projects and goals. Cover all the broader, important topics on a regular basis.
•Assure your manager that her opinions and suggestions matter and that you will listen to and act on them. You need not necessarily agree with every assessment, but remain open—do not grow defensive or angry. If you must disagree, do so politely. Offer your opinions using phrases such as “Could it be because …,” “how about …,” or “perhaps, another way to look at this is ….”
•Ask for specific examples. Take down notes. Conclude the meeting by thanking your manager. Affirm that you will develop and share with her a plan of action.
•Review your notes from the meeting. Look for patterns in her comments and suggestions. In a day or two, follow up with your action plan.
Check back next week for Part Two on Seeking Feedback from Management!
Article by Nagesh Belludi, RightAttitudes