Monday, March 25, 2013

Three questions to get the most out of feedback

Have you ever received positive feedback from a supervisor only to be left wondering what exactly it was about what you did that earned you the praise? You are not alone: research has shown that you are more likely to be given specific feedback about poor performance than for positive performance. Very counter-intuitive, especially for those that pride themselves on self-improvement and exceeding goals. "Good job" just doesn't cut it when you desire to excel.

It's important to remember that the relationship between you and your supervisor is a two-way street. If there is something that you are not getting it could be that your supervisor is not aware of it. Take care of your own development and ask these three questions to get the most out of your supervisor's feedback.

What behaviors did you like seeing? This question hones in on what you specifically did to garner the praise. It could be that your attention to detail was a critical component to the success of your task, or that you were able to put aside other projects in order to focus on the one that needed to get done. Regardless, ask about the specific behaviors in order to hone in on what was important to your supervisor.

How did those behaviors correspond with department and organizational goals? Everything that you do should relate to the goals of the department and the organization. Ask your supervisor how your project and your actions related to those goals. Your idea of what the correlation is could be different from what your supervisor envisions. Either way, you will get a better sense of how the time you put in relates to the broader vision of what your organization has set out to accomplish.

What would you like to see more of, and what would you like to see less of? Ask this question to hone in on what nuances of your work your supervisor finds most and least valuable. Take this feedback for what it is, and be sure to say "thank you."

Create the context for present and future feedback by asking for specific details that will aid your future development.

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