You’re fairly certain that you’re doing well in your new job. But you have yet to hear a word from your manager about what she thinks of your performance, and it’s been months since you started work. You want to assume that she’s pleased. No news is good news, right? Still, it would be better to know for sure that you’re meeting her expectations — and not be surprised by an unflattering critique in your annual review.
It could be that your boss hasn’t commented on your work because she’s content with it. Or maybe she’s been too focused on her own tasks to think about stopping by your desk to say, “Great job.” There could be other reasons, however. For instance, she might be the type of supervisor who thinks giving feedback is only necessary when there’s a problem.
Or maybe she’s even been too busy to meet with you to explain how your efforts might be falling short of expectations.
Positive or negative, feedback from your boss is important to your success because it can help you refine your skills and target areas for improvement. So, don’t feel uncomfortable asking for direct feedback — but try to do so in a way that also will help you to open the channels for ongoing communication. Here are a few tips:
- Schedule a time to talk. Ask your boss if she could set aside 15 to 20 minutes, at her earliest convenience, to discuss your progress. If possible, keep the meeting informal — maybe ask to meet over a cup of coffee in the break room. You don’t want this to feel like a structured review; just a conversation between professionals.
- Ask for specifics. You don’t want your boss to simply issue a judgment of whether you’re doing a “good” or “bad” job. Find out what you’re doing well at, of course — but avoid fishing for compliments. Your real goal is to find out how you can improve. Even if your manager says she’s satisfied with your work, tell her you want to do even better. Ask her for advice that can help you take your performance to the next level.
- Invite future discussion. After you receive your boss’s feedback, thank her for taking the time to speak frankly with you. Let her know that you plan to take action on her input, and will keep her apprised of your progress. Emphasize that ongoing feedback is important to you, and request that you both meet regularly, perhaps once a quarter, to make sure you’re continuing to meet expectations.
In many ways, your manager is your coach in the workplace. To continue learning and improving, it’s important that you maintain an ongoing dialogue with your boss. So be proactive about asking for her feedback — it will help you to become the best employee you can be.
Contributed by Pallavi Anand, Director, Robert Half Hong Kong