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When (and Why) You Should Ask For Professional Feedback From Your Boss

In the ideal world, we will all get constructive feedback. In the real world, we have to ask for it strategically. It is vital to the success of one’s career trajectory to get constructive feedback frequently along the way. That said, it is worth noting when and why you always approach your supervisor for feedback. This story will guide you along the whens and whys.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”

Elon Musk

Learning and continuous improvement can only thrive when there is feedback fuelling individuals to become a better version of themselves today than what they were yesterday. Feedback helps us meet expectations and avoid miscommunications that waste everyone’s time and put our prospects for growth at risk.

When you dig right into it, we are always looking for feedback. You just do not realise it. It is a core element of our lives, whether you believe it or not, that helps us evolve to become better human beings.

Have you ever asked your girlfriend what she thinks about your cooking? Have you ever approached your parents and asked them about their opinions about a particular situation you dealt with? Do you talk to your lecturer about how you have completed a particular assignment?

Whether you realise it or not, we are always craving for attention. Specifically, we are longing for others’ opinions (which can be a double-edged sword). In the domain of personal development, feedback is used to analyse the areas of life where we have gone wrong and, ultimately, makes us wiser. In the context of our professional career, feedback helps us to become more productive and sociable at work.

So, why is it imperative, especially in the workplace, to seek feedback from your boss?

“When we make progress and get better at something, it is inherently motivating. In order for people to make progress, they have to get feedback and information on how they’re doing.”

Daniel H. Pink

Seeking feedback demonstrates that you do not need to wait for others to drive you to success. It shows that you are taking the initiative and that you want to grow personally and professionally seriously. Depending on your boss, he or she may come to you and compliment your work by saying, “You have done a marvellous job!” However, feedback is not always like that; feedback can sometimes be more constructive or critical, which can be difficult to interpret.

Showing your manager that you are curious about what they have to say, regardless of whether it is positive or negative, informs your boss that you are serious about the work and strive to work your way towards your career goals.

Obtaining feedback is easy. Acting upon the feedback to make a difference in what you are doing or shift your mindset is another level of difficulty. There will be occasions when your boss says something you despise hearing, or that makes you uneasy. For instance, when I first started working as a talent acquisition trainee, my confidence was low, and my colleagues took notice of it. My boss and I sat down one day, and we talked about how my lack of confidence was impacting my work, as well as my overall wellbeing. Because it was my first corporate job upon graduation, the lack of work experience made me felt unconfident. I began to doubt my choices, talents and constantly worried about each task because I was afraid of doing something that would piss my boss off. Instead of raising my ego shield and deflecting my boss’s feedback by saying something like, “I will do my best next time. I promise it would not happen again,” I internalised her words to heart.

Some time later, I asked her where else I could improve my work performance and what tips she had for me to make my tasks easier to complete. Seeking feedback from her made me realised that it was all strictly business and not personal. Moreover, I recognised that I was just being offered a chance to grow, and my self-confidence came to life over time. My boss and my colleagues did not want to leave me behind – they want me to make great strides. So, when they are available to help, they taught me shortcuts on approaching a particular project and writing better emails.

No doubt, it can be an intimidating experience. However, stopping what you are doing and reaching out for help can pay you lots of dividends. If you are uncertain about a choice you have made at work, have a word with your boss to discuss what you have done, what the outcome was and how you might have done things differently. If that scares you to the bone, talk it out with your colleague or mentor who can guide you and offered constructive feedback.

What to do when the feedback is constantly negative or is not provided at all?

By heart, people are kind and generous. As a civilisation, people want to help each other to become successful in life. If you observe that you are being ignored when you call for assistance, or if the aid you are given is not what you were expecting, pause for a moment, take a step back and evaluate the situation.

If you are trapped inside an atmosphere where growth and success are difficult to attain, perhaps it is a sign telling you to give yourself feedback. Truth be told, being truthful with ourselves is a frightening and challenging task to perform, but if we can get over that hurdle, we have just unlocked ourselves a new life skill.

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