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Improve Your Job Performance (and Career) Through Feedback

By Debra Wheatman

Receiving feedback about your work can be very uncomfortable. Reality is that -- like everyone else -- you are not perfect.

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If you were perfect, you would have nothing more to learn. Boring!

Professional athletes, singers, and many other professionals continue to work with coaches to help them improve their performance throughout their careers, even when they are earning millions of dollars.

By focusing on improving your performance, and demonstrating your interest in improving, you can impress your manager and others you work with. As you improve, you show your interest in doing a good job and, possibly, in being promoted to a better position -- important groundwork for building a successful career.

Gathering Feedback to Build Your Career

You can make a meaningful difference in your career and your next performance evaluation by gathering feedback throughout the year. Here are four steps you take to gather feedback and build your career:

1: Be Open to Criticism and Advice

If a manager offers helpful advice and in return they get a defensive or dismissive attitude, they will likely deem you difficult and will be less likely to proactively offer constructive advice for change. Instead, you might be given work that is not as robust and reward other employees with career-building opportunities.

Always be open to feedback. Take it seriously and work to develop your skills based on the constructive criticism that you receive.

2: Pay Attention Subtle Messages

Most people have difficulty giving negative feedback, especially customers, partners, or associates. They may feel that because they are not your manager, it is not their job to coach you. Instead, they may tip toe around the subject.

For example, instead of saying a report is too long and contains technical terms that the reader will not understand, they may say sheepishly, "Do you think we may want to provide a shorter 3-page report?"

Or, in a meeting they may say, "I really like Ace Company's new brochure. It was very easy for the consumer to understand."

Pay attention to cues, and adopt best practices in your work.

3: Ask for Feedback

Associates with whom you interact on a daily basis surround you. These people know you, and they know your work product.

In a one-on-one setting, ask a trusted, respected associate if they would care to share any feedback with you. Do not attempt to defend yourself (Refer to 1, above).

It is alright to ask someone this once, but if this becomes a monthly ritual, you will come across as very needy.

Be genuine in your request and grateful to your associate for his candor.

4: Talk with your Manager

Managers are busy people. They may have the best intentions of meeting with each team member once a month. However, months go by and sometimes these meetings never occur until the annual evaluation.

Set a plan to check-in with your manager once every two months. Log it on your calendar. It can be as simple as ducking your head in your manager's office, and asking if they have five minutes.

Say, "I just wanted to check in to see if you have any feedback or advice for me. Is there anything I can be doing differently, or anything more I can do to be of help to the department?"

Your manager may not have the time to get too deep, but this could be the opening for another meeting in which you can build a plan to take ownership of additional responsibilities.

Also, if something is wrong, it is best to address it sooner rather than later, so you can quickly get back on track.

Annual Performance Reviews

Another useful source of feedback can b the annual employee performance review. Many companies conduct annual employee performance evaluation and salary reviews. A form of feedback that can cause anxiety for both the employees and managers. Others have the idea, "It is what it is." That is true.

What you have done for the past 11.5 months has led to opinions that will soon be documented in your annual review. Any efforts you make in the week leading to your review will likely make little difference in the overall assessment.

If you know there are areas in need of improvement, commit to doing things differently for the next annual evaluation.

Bottom Line

Gathering feedback throughout the year not only leads to an excellent annual evaluation, but, it can be a powerful career-building exercise that can lead to exciting new assignments and promotions.


About the author...

Debra Wheatman is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC). She is globally recognized as an expert in advanced career search techniques with more than 18 years' corporate human resource experience. Debra has been featured on Fox Business News, WNYW with Brian Lehrer, and quoted in leading publications, including Forbes.com, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and CNBC. Debra may be reached at debra@careersdonewrite.com, or you may visit her website at CareersDoneWrite.com. You can also circle her on Google+.


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