I wrote a much longer post about this topic, but…it was really, really long. So here’s the Campbell’s Soup version.
- Be specific about the type of feedback you want. Ex: “Joe, would you mind looking over my resume for any glaring mistakes? I feel good about the content, but what I’d love is for you to mark any misspellings, incorrect grammar, and/or anything that might be distracting. Thank you.”
- If you know someone who is always fishing (as in, fishing for compliments), go for the preemptive strike. Hit him/her with a really kind, true remark. If he/she asks for more and there’s nothing else you can honestly say without hurting his/her feelings, lightly (as in, “Ha ha ha, you’re suck a jokester”)say something along the lines of, “Hello? Weren’t you listening? I am in love with that shirt/title/bullet point/bracelet/eyeshadow color!”
- Establish an honest reputation. People know that I tell it straight, so when someone asks me for my opinion, he/she knows that’s exactly what I’m going to give.
- Make sure that you are giving feedback for the right reason. This is one area where doing the right thing for the wrong reason could just really mess things up. What do I mean? Make sure you are motivated by your care and concern for the person and not just wanting to rip on him/her. And make sure that the feedback is actually necessary. Ex: Regardless of the fact that muffin tops don’t look good on anyone, telling a girl her jeans give her a muffin top is just not necessary…unless she has asked for the feedback AND she has the option to change out of the jeans immediately if she so desires.
- Qualify your feedback (could also be stated: a little humility goes a long way). This can lessen the blow, but it must be genuine. Ex: “I have formatted my resume they way I have because I think it’s a really good format, so my comments will probably be based on that. Realize, however, that this is not the only way to format it and mine is not the only opinion out there.”
- Explain why you are sharing whatever it is your sharing. Ex: A guy recently asked me to recommend him to some recruiters and state my confidence in his competence and ability to perform at said company. I have had all of two conversations with the kid. I could have ignored his request (email has added a new medium–perhaps one of the best–to the art of conflict avoidance), however this guy is just finishing his last year of undergrad and I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that no one had ever explained to him how recommendations should work–based on my experience. I kindly (after sleeping on it) replied to his email by stating, first, that I didn’t feel comfortable with recommending him, then the reason, followed with why I was giving him this feedback (so he wouldn’t make the same mistake in the future when the stakes might be much higher–I had no say in who got second interviews nor did I feel it was my place to pass any information along, so his minor error had zero effect on the outcome).
- Get comfortable with the idea that people might think you are a swear word of some sort…until they realize that you really are motivated by care and concern. (I live with this reality on a daily basis).
- Don’t dish it if you can’t take it.
- Don’t ask for it if you don’t want it
- In a high stakes situation–job performance, interviews, skills/abilities–do not lie. If feedback makes you uncomfortable, realize that by not being honest you are being selfish. Stop trying to convince yourself that you aren’t being honest because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings–if you don’t want to date someone, just tell him/her. You aren’t being honest because you don’t want to deal with your own discomfort.
thanks chloe 🙂
Carly, Hopefully, you'll see this comment. So, in answer to your question, I would ask for a meeting and just ask directly. I think you can even say, "I'm getting the feeling I'm not doing as well as I should be and I'd love any suggestions you might have about how I can do my job better." Pretty basic, but it will go a long way, I promise.Good luck!!!
So I am a big time blog lurker, and I really enjoy your blog! I'm wondering if I could ask your expert advice on something… I recently got a promotion and have received ZERO feedback from my boss about my performance so far. I would like to ask him how it's going, but I don't want to come across as fishing for compliments. I actually feel that I'm not doing very well and would like some direction on how I could improve. Any ideas on how to approach this? Thanks 🙂