“Great start!” Nothing drove me crazier, as an employee than receiving this feedback from my manager.
Depending on my state of mind (and my emotional intelligence) at the time, my reaction to this feedback would vary from demotivated to downright angry. “Great start”, I might mumble to myself with a “who does he think he is” attitude. I was feeling hurt. I spent hours working on this project and was proud of the result and I needed more than just “Great start!”.
You may have encountered a similar scenario. If not “Great start”, it may have been some other go-to phrase from your manager that left you feeling frustrated and lacking what you needed.
As it turns out, we are not asking for the RIGHT feedback.
As Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone share in their book, Thanks for the Feedback, The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, we, the receivers of feedback, need to help our managers understand the type of feedback we need in the moment.
Consider the scenario below.
You work in a fast-paced environment where time can be hard to come by. You fire off a quick email to your manager with your project attached and a simple question: “Thoughts?”
No wonder the feedback received is then, “Great start!” In asking for feedback, we are sometimes too vague and let’s face it, our managers are not mind-readers. We simply need to be more specific when asking for feedback.
Asking for the RIGHT feedback takes practice.
It begins with understanding what type of feedback you need at that moment. In the “Great start” scenario, what I needed was appreciation. What I received was vague and demotivating.
So first, know what you are asking for. Know whether you need appreciation, coaching or evaluation.
Second, know how to ask for it. When asking for feedback, let your manager know what you need. Rather than simply asking for their thoughts, get specific. “What is your opinion on the final design of the proposal?” “How do you think I could improve the outline of the presentation?” “How would you evaluate this project compared to your expectations?”.
When we start asking the RIGHT questions we have a better chance of receiving the performance management feedback we need and often so desperately crave.