Depending on how your company is structured and your company’s management style, you may receive feedback on a regular basis, or you may only get it at your annual review. If you’re reading this, we’re guessing that whatever the case, you want more feedback from your bosses.
Getting transparent feedback is essential to professional growth because it helps you identify your strengths and weak spots and – ultimately – gives you the opportunity to improve. If you’ve found that good feedback is hard to come by, here are a few tips to get those important meetings on the calendar, get *helpful* answers from your managers, and use it to grow.
Assess how you think you did/are doing
This isn’t to say you Should decide what you think so you can become defensive later on. Rather, it’s important to take time to reflect and be self-aware and to bring your own talking points to the meeting, especially if you feel your manager isn’t being explicitly clear or direct.
Be clear with the fact that you want honest feedback
One of the most important things you’ll want to make clear to your manager is that you’re looking to improve and you want constructive criticism. This will ensure you don’t receive a generic “It went well, you did a great job” because that’s not what we’re looking for.
Instead, try reaching out via Slack or email with a message like below:
Slack/direct message template:
Hi! I just wanted to ask if I could put a 15-minute meeting on your calendar for us to discuss what went well and what I could improve upon when it comes to [this type of recent project]. I’d love to hear your honest feedback on [recent project] so I can work on improving for the future. Let me know a couple times that work.
Subject: Your Feedback on [Specific Item You Want Feedback on]
Hi [Boss’ Name],
I wanted to ask if I could put time on your calendar for us to discuss what you thought about [the project you want feedback on]. I’d love to get your input so I can work on improvements for the future. Specifically, I’d like your thoughts on one to three things that went well and one to three things that could have gone better. Any guidance you can provide is greatly appreciated.
I’ll send a meeting invite shortly to block off time for us to chat, but I wanted to give you the heads up on what the meeting would be about first. Looking forward to speaking with you.
Stay positive and focus on improvement for the future
While areas of improvement will come up in your conversation, it’s important to focus on educating yourself for the sake of future improvement, not highlighting everything that went wrong or that was perfect in your project your presentation.
Whatever you do, don’t take a remorseful approach saying things like, “Oh you’re right, I’m sorry about that.”
Rather, when you receive constructive criticism, say things like, “That’s a great point, good catch.”
Mentally prepare: don’t get defensive
Receiving constructive criticism isn’t always easy, especially when it’s for a project you’ve put a lot of effort into. It’s important to remember that this is all for the sake of improving – how you can get better and ultimately grow based on the feedback you’re receiving.
Be sure to listen and not interrupt when someone is providing feedback. Also ask clarifying questions if some of the feedback is unclear or you’re not sure how it can be applied to your work. This will help to ensure that you have something actionable and practical that you can work on after your meeting with your manager.
Write it down
We’re not saying you’re forgetful, but just in case you might be… Be sure to make bullet points of the feedback you receive in a journal or a Google Doc that you can reference later. That way, the next time you’re working on a similar project, you can open your document and reference the points of feedback and iterate on your next project or presentation.
Also ask what went well
Hey, it’s not all about your weaknesses! It’s important to note what areas of your project or presentation were strong. Becoming a better employee doesn’t necessarily mean vanquishing all of your weaknesses. Sometimes it simply means capitalizing on your strengths and improving weak spots when you can.
If you can, ask for a review from a colleague or friend in a similar role with more experience
If you can, it’s a great idea to ask for feedback before the deadline of a project or presentation from one of your managers or a friend who has more experience. This way, you know you’re putting your best foot forward from the start.
Again, be sure it’s clear to them that you’re looking to make improvements and you want them to be honest in their feedback to you.
Being the one who gives the feedback isn’t always easy, either. Be sure to thank the people who care enough to be honest with you and let them know that you value their transparency.