Asking for Feedback from Your Own Manager
As a manager, you’re going to provide a lot of feedback to your team members. It’s part of the process of ensuring they do the best they can for your department and employer as well as helping them develop their own skills and grow in their own career.
Manager, ask for feedback thyself!
Everyone has a boss, even the boss. You undoubtedly want feedback from your own supervisor and in a perfect world, he or she would be providing it to you regularly.
But perfect this world is not, and so there will be times you need to take a deep breath, head on over to the big guy or gal’s desk (or send an email) and ask for a meeting.
The good news is that your feedback meeting will be very similar to those you conduct with your own team members. You also need to prepare for it just as they should.
Preparing for a feedback meeting with your manager
It’s actually a good idea to have these meetings regularly. This helps you fix issues your manager brings up before they become real problems. It also helps you and your manager come up with short- and long-term goals about which you two can discuss regularly.
And – here’s a BIG positive for you regarding quarterly meetings – it helps you tout your successes to your boss regularly.
Some preparation tips and suggestions:
- Keep a tally of your successes (and send them to your boss).
As you meet/exceed goals, as you complete tasks, as your team beats deadlines, make sure you write these successes down. Then compile them into a short report and send it each quarter to your boss. You also can send this “success report” to your boss each month, send a larger one each quarter and one that covers the entire year prior to your annual review.
It’s also wise to send the goals you’ve set for your team and for yourself at least quarterly to your manager.
Even if you meet only once a year for your performance review, write these accomplishments down. You’ll forget them if you don’t. If your boss asks you not to send them each month, write them for yourself and compile that large report prior to your annual review.
- Go to the meeting with a specific agenda and goal.
Limit the discussion to three or four specific areas: don’t bombard your boss. For example, ask for feedback about how you did on a recent project. Ask your boss what skills she thinks you need to improve. Ask for feedback about your chances of a promotion (see the next bullet point). Ask how you and your team members could have improved upon a certain project.
- Share your personal and team goals and successes at the meeting.
If you didn’t meet some departmental goals, it’s best if you bring them up before your manager does. (In fact, you may want to make this one of your agenda items, as mentioned above). Don’t make excuses. Instead, take responsibility for the failure and segue immediately into what you and your team are doing to fix the problems.
If you did meet goals – especially if you exceeded them – don’t be shy about saying so. In fact, if you overcame a challenge that you didn’t know was coming, make sure to let your boss know so and describe how you overcame it.
As for your own professional goals, let your boss know what they are. Do you want to be promoted again in a year? Do you want to go back to school? Telling your boss about your own goals helps her understand what you want your career path to look like and thus helps her know how to help you get there.
- Act on the feedback you receive.
Just as when you provide feedback to your team members, your boss will ask to see some improvement in some areas of your performance. Set up a timeline with your boss. Make it a time-related goal (30 days, the end of the next quarter, the end of a certain project, etc.)
Once you’ve set the timeline, consciously act on the areas of improvement our boss identified. Note what’s improving and what’s not and then, at the deadline allotted for improvement, send your boss a short email report outlining your progress.
Make sure to include specific instances of improvement (you gained a certain new skill, your team met a deadline it hadn’t met before).
If things aren’t improving as you’d hoped, say so and say why you think this is the case. Again, no excuses: take responsibility. But if you know that some tool, some additional help, some more time would help you, mention it. And, again, be specific as to what the tool, help, time frame looks like.
- Ask to meet with your boss for feedback on a regular basis.
Ask your manager to schedule feedback sessions: to place them on the calendar. You may feel you need to meet weekly. You may feel monthly is better. The point is that you and your manager need to meet regularly to discuss goals, successes, challenges, and problems.
Doing so can only help you become a much better manager for your team members while also helping you become successful in your own career.
Keeping your emotions in check
Managing others sometimes is likened to “herding cats”: it’s not easy. After all, people come in all manner of personalities, outlooks, commitment to their jobs, different work ethics, etc.
Tempers can rise. Emotions can increase. The feels? They’re felt!
Yet as a manager, you need to keep your emotions under control. Sometimes hard to do, but oh-so-necessary.
Our next – and last – post in our “New Manager Advice Series” will offer tips and strategies to help you stay in control of your emotions when circumstances make it hard to do so.
Looking for a new job? Looking to move up into management? Take a look at our current opportunities and apply if you find one or more that fit.