Fishing for Negative Feedback

Manager and meQ.  When it comes to feedback my boss only tells me that I am doing well.  I wish that she would tell me some of the negatives so that I can improve.  What can I do to get accurate feedback?

A.  If you are a senior manager/leader in your firm and your boss says that you are doing a great job—please, say “Thank you. I am pleased with your assessment of my work and plan to continue on that path.”

If you are junior in your career, you can expect your manager to guide your development by providing pointed, performance-based feedback. However, as you move from junior to senior, the responsibility for your professional development becomes your own. Part of that responsibility is being alert to theFishing feedback you receive every day. For example, you may be the proverbial fish in water unaware that it is WATER—awash in feedback from colleagues and clients (internal and external).

You have a choice:  listen up, wake up or tap into your emotional intelligence and consider:

  • What happens if you push your boss to tell you the negative things that you are doing?  What is the benefit to you? What is the downside?
  • What is the feedback that you actually “hear”?  Is there feedback that you deflect? “Oh, that was nothing special, just doing my job.” If yes, stop. Listen.  And say “thank you”
  • Are you a perfectionist?  Never satisfied with your performance?  If yes, you may discover some helpful strategies when you read Chapter 9 of Getting There Staying There, especially the section entitled  “Are my own expectations the enemy of my accomplishments?” (page 91).

I find that my clients are accomplished and valued by their managers.  Don’t ignore everyday feedback.  You may be awash in feedback—so don’t flop around like a fish out of water.

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