We’ve all been there, eager for professional feedback.
It can feel awkward and challenging to know how to ask for it, so you hem and haw, hoping your boss will magically provide it.
But if you want to progress in your career, you need to understand what you’re doing right and what areas you need to work on. The only way to improve is to get feedback; here’s how to request it.
Don’t – until you take ownership of your career
Rather than passively hope your boss takes note of your many achievements, get into the habit of regularly chronicling your accomplishments. Keep a file of all of your projects, your goals and progress against them, and anything else of note. This proactive exercise helps you record your professional track record, which you can then periodically share with your boss (read: throughout the year and not just before a review).
Remember, ultimately, you are responsible for your career growth, so take ownership by documenting it.
Consider your timing
The best time to think about requesting feedback is well before you’ll need it. Even if you wanted feedback yesterday, resist the urge to insist that it’s given immediately. Give your manager adequate time to prepare their assessment to not feel on the spot or rushed. Being perceived as pushy or confrontational will not serve you well in this process.
Also, use your common sense and awareness not to request it at inopportune times when their attention will be elsewhere—right before a major pitch, board meeting, looming deadline for an important project, or their vacation. Use empathy to place yourself in your boss’ shoes and plan accordingly.
Signal that you’re open to hearing both the good and bad
When making your ask, let your boss know that you’re open to hearing their honest assessment with the intent to improve your performance.
This takes a bit of the pressure off, and she’ll be more apt to provide helpful information that balances praise for what’s going well with constructive criticism in areas that need improvement.
Don’t be wishy-washy
If what you want is honest feedback, don’t meander in your request, burying it in a laundry list of items, or ask the generic, “How am I doing?”
When seeking feedback, be clear on exactly what kind you’re looking for—would you like three things you can work on to improve? Guidance on setting long-term goals? Being direct and specific in your communication helps your boss do the same.
Make it easy for your boss
Remember, delivering feedback isn’t always easy either. Your boss likely has lots of other things going on, so instead of making her do all the work, share a summary of your accomplishments, key milestones, and questions to aid the assessment process. (Hint: This should be a snap if you’ve been proactively documenting your progress, as suggested earlier.)
Doing this before you ask for feedback makes it easier on your boss, which is appreciated and speaks to your awareness and consideration as a valuable team member. And who wouldn’t want to leave that lingering impression as they request feedback?
This article has been reprinted with permission from Amy Blaschka’s LinkedIn page.