August 16th, 2020
Many people I’ve met professionally are ambitious and crave feedback to accelerate their growth. Unfortunately, these people are often frustrated by expecting and not getting feedback from their manager.
Several years ago, it clicked for me that getting meaningful performance feedback is my responsibility, not my manager’s. It’s true that many managers aren’t very good at assessing performance or delivering feedback, and I’ve had my share of those. But often, managers just don’t have the time to observe everything their reports are doing, especially as those reports are handling complex responsibilities themselves.
Realizing that getting good feedback was my own problem to solve was incredibly empowering; my career growth became entirely my own to drive where previously, I was partially a victim of circumstance.
Here are a few techniques I’ve learned for getting better feedback:
- Solicit feedback specifically. A report’s expectation to get feedback generically – about anything and everything – is overwhelming for a manager with limited time and attention. Managers are often in those roles because they prioritize well, and you as their report sometimes need to inform their prioritization. Ask your manager to pay attention at specific times where their feedback would be most helpful to you (e.g. observing how you run a meeting, reviewing a document). Since you’ve told them the value in spending the time and attention to give you feedback, they’re more likely to do it.
- Articulate your growth areas. As an extension of the above, have a shared understanding between you and your manager of how you’re approaching your own career development and use those growth areas as opportunities to solicit feedback. If you’ve articulated your career goals and discussed opportunities to explore those goals, then your manager will know where to pay attention beyond specific times you’ve asked for it.
- Seek feedback outside your manager. Your peers and crossfunctional partners perhaps have more visibility into your day-to-day than your manager does. If you’re comfortable sharing your growth areas with and soliciting feedback from your peers, you’ll have that many more opportunities to get feedback.