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How to Ask Your Manager for Feedback

Asking your manager for feedback is an essential part of getting what you want out of your career. But asking someone to be honest about your shortcomings seems painful. It’s much less painful to believe that what happens in the workplace is out of your control. However, that’s a total myth. The reality is you have to take the reins of your career and drive it toward the goals and objectives you want to reach. Let’s debunk three myths of the workplace and talk about how feedback can be your guide for moving forward.

Instead of waiting for feedback from your manager, you can be proactive about it.

1. If you want feedback, ask for it.

2. When you do good work, advocate for it.

3. Make time to discuss work expectations with your manager.

Myth #1: No News is Good News

Just because your boss isn’t offering any commentary on your work doesn’t mean everything is going swell. Bosses are humans too, so it’s not unusual to have a boss who’s conflict averse. When your manager isn’t discussing your growth opportunities with you, a few things can happen:

Reality: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know – Unless You Ask.

When you’re getting feedback regularly throughout the year, you have chances before your annual review to right any wrongs. You and manager will also be on the same page about your career goals, so you can ask what tangible steps you need to take to get the promotion of your dreams. You’re able to address issues as they arise, so they never snowball into job threatening missteps.

Types of Feedback:

Myth #2: Good Work Speaks for Itself

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Even the best products need marketing. Apple, Nike and Toyota are leaders in their industry, but every year they spend millions of dollars reminding the general public how great they are. You’re not the only thing on your manager’s mind, sometimes they need to be reminded that you’re a valuable member of their team.

Reality: You Have to Advocate For Yourself in the Workplace

Not all feedback is negative. Often, an opportunity for feedback is an opportunity for your manager to sing your praises. Even just a quick check-in after a meeting like, “I feel like that went pretty well, did you get the same impression?” can really pull your accomplishment front and center for your manager. While you may be concerned about coming off as needy, we all need validation that we’re doing a good job and we’re on the right track for success. Plus, you want to make sure your perception of how well you’re doing lines up with your manager’s.

What to Ask For, Exactly

Myth #3: Your Manager Knows Best

It can be easy to let your manager set the tone in the office, but sometimes managers need coaching too. Did you know that millennials are twice as likely to value feedback from their managers? Yet only 19% say they receive feedback regularly and of that subset, even less find it meaningful. How can this problem be solved? Ask for it. Less than a fifth of millennials are regularly asking their managers for their guidance.

Reality: You Have to Show Your Manager What You Need

There’s generally gap between how we see ourselves and how others see us.  When you ask for feedback from your boss, you’re closing that gap. Because what isn’t a myth is the old saying, “Perception is reality.” You can’t change how your boss sees you if you don’t know what their perception is.

Staying On Top of Your Own Feedback Needs

Don’t let myths in the workplace lead you astray. Get the truth straight from the source: your manager. Being open to honest feedback is the only way to grow your career. So, whether your manager is ready for real talk or not, it’s up to you to guide them toward it if you want to succeed.