Know the shortest path to succeeding in your job?

What I crave in my role as a boss, is to feel that my team can complete my sentences. That they follow me like my shadow. That doesn’t mean they should always agree with me – but understand what I’m talking about, where I’m coming from and why — yes!

What’s the next best thing to seamless teamwork? And how do I know when someone who just joined our team is going to work out well? That’s when I’m asked frequently for feedback. This is best when done casually as part of our workflow and especially near the start of new projects or responsibilities.

taking criticism well

For example:

BAD: “Eric, can we schedule a time to talk about my job performance?”

GREAT: “Eric, how do you like what I’m doing? Is this what you had in mind? Any ideas for improvement?”

(by e-mail, IM, tel or VM, all great)

If you need to schedule time to ask for feedback, then you probably are not in the habit of asking and you’ve created a situation where your request may be perceived as an annoyance and the meeting itself a source of tension. Why?

If you are not in the habit of asking for frequent feedback, the meeting you requested comes too late. Too late to make changes to work that has already been done. If you haven’t asked me for feedback in nine months, I’ll assume that you are fearful and unreceptive. Or, I  may assume your interest level and commitment to the job are just average.

Whatever the reasons are, a lack of steady communication about performance, will eventually create tension between you and your boss. Of course, if you aren’t asking for feedback because I’m already giving you a steady stream of positive feedback, that’s understandable – we’ll probably have a good meeting if you insist.

Should the boss ask for feedback from the team also? Yes! While you’re waiting for the boss to ask you for feedback, here’s a checklist.

Ask for feedback:

  1. frequently & informally
  2. when starting new projects or responsibilities
  3. during or after a job interview
  4. with your own continuous improvement in mind
  5. to calibrate your efforts to current priorities & avoid wasting company resources
  6. to enhance your productivity and value to the company
  7. to evaluate and enhance your job security
  8. to stand out from the pack
  9. to dissipate tension and enjoy a better relationship with your boss
  10. to create more opportunities for discussing job fit with your boss

Get the ebook! If you liked what you read here, and think you may want to refer back to this guide later, grab the Kindle version – we’re hoping you’ll thank us with a five-star review on Amazon if you found this material helpful. The ebook also includes our job search guide.

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  • Sarah N.

    As someone who has had only one job, I am extremely new to job interactions between employee and employer. However, even with the one job that I have, this article is still very informative, now and in the future.

    Asking for feedback is something I never thought of doing until now. In every way it improves the relationship between me and my boss. A few times, I have asked my employer about my performance as a camp counselor, but more times than not, she had approached me instead of the other way around. Now, because of this article, I am aware that I should be regularly checking up on my performance and asking for feedback about what I am doing right and what I should be improving on. I believe that this will help me stand out from the rest of my coworkers and gain respect of my boss.

    Asking my boss how I am doing every so often is a new concept that I leaned from this article and I am excited to give it a try in the upcoming summer months when I will be working, and in the future at all jobs and internships that I am involved in.

  • Steven Messinger

    Playing travel soccer for the past ten years has presented many situations similar to the one described in the article. As I grew older and started to take the sport more seriously, I found I was consistently striving to be better. In both work and sports, feedback is crucial in order to get alternate viewpoints and improve your “game.” Constantly checking in to see what you can tweak just to earn more of an edge is what needs to be done to improve your individual skills. In turn benefitting your own success will greaten your “teams” or companies efforts.

    I was always asking coaches what I needed to work on to get better. Over the years I went from the lowest skilled team in the club all the way to the highest. Asking for my weaknesses and improving on them allowed me to immensely improve as a player. Experiences like these can be related to almost any competitive situation. From a business standpoint, the more effort you put in to try and get better the more success you’ll end up having. Improving yourself consists of many things, but constantly checking in for feedback can make a big impact.

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About the author

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In 1997, Eric Shannon launched the first job board for bilinguals who speak English/Spanish at LatPro.com. Eric still serves as CEO of LatPro Inc., developer of JustJobs.com. He lives in Boulder, CO with his wife and two girls.

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