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Keeping an open mind on managerial feedback

Keeping an open mind on managerial feedbackImage Credit: Supplied

Do you ever feel like you're flying blind at work? You get things done and you never receive any feedback — positive or negative. You resent that a great amount of hard work is going unnoticed... or at least it appears to be so.

You may be working with a supervisor who has poor feedback abilities. But you also may be one of the people who need constant feedback to thrive in the workplace.

There is really nothing wrong with this need if it is true. Our upbringing determines many of our expectations from authority figures even when we transition to professional lives. What's important, however, is to recognise this need and deal with your feelings without letting it sabotage your relationship with co-workers and supervisors.

You also need to know how you will be able to handle negative feedback successfully. Here are some points to keep in mind when you feel your work is not being recognised as per expectations.

Ask for feedback

Yes, it is as simple as that. In today's workplace, supervisors may be so overwhelmed with problems that taking time to recognise what is working out just fine is a luxury. That doesn't make it OK to skip this important task.

But if it really matters, email or talk to the supervisor about giving you feedback about a particular project or on particular points. Explain why it is important for you to use feedback for professional improvement.

If all you want is just a ''well-done'' statement, simply ask if your project met expectations. You probably will get the concise praise you're looking for. But if you open this door, be ready to hear comments that may not align with your hopes — especially if this supervisor is in two minds about your work quality.

Get reviews

If the supervisor is taking on bigger projects and getting individual feedback is nearly impossible, look around you. You may find several people who are more experienced and willing to play mentor. Make sure to pick the right person with the right type of experience and willingness to help — not just the most friendly one — and ask questions.

Seek opinions from other team members with whom you don't work regularly. For example, if you are taking an interdepartmental project, make sure to leave the door open for suggestions, feedback and questions. This will help you see the holes in your work, adjust and improve.

Remember, you won't be highlighting your shortcomings by asking questions and taking feedback. Many people will appreciate such flexibility and the opportunity to contribute their thoughts. And people typically are less judgemental when questions are asked along the way compared to when they see issues in a completed project or product.

Respond appropriately

Managers and supervisors may be less likely to give feedback if your response is negative, emotional or defensive. Think about how you reacted to feedback in the past. Have you stayed calm, taken it into consideration, followed up with questions, and measured your progress?

If not, reconsider your way of handling feedback.

It is part of professional life that you will receive both positive and negative feedback. If you are only expecting praise, you may often be disappointed. Instead, have a simple 1-2-3 plan on how to respond to constructive criticism.

This could be structured on the following points: 1) I understand your point; 2) here is my proposal to change the situation; and 3) let's come with a metric or a way to track change regarding this problem in the future.

If you don't agree with the feedback, your 1-2-3 plan could be structured on: 1) I don't fully agree with this point, 2) here is why I think we see the situation differently; and 3) Please let me know if I am missing something.

When you resort to these scripts, you avoid situations where your response is unstructured, defensive, pointing fingers at others, etc. All of these reactions can only make the situation worse and discourage supervisors from giving feedback on the fly.

Getting and handling feedback

Simply ask questions.

Go beyond direct supervisors.

Be ready to receive criticism.

Have a script for your responses.

Here's a glimpse on the missteps that can happen when things get personal

Source: Rania Oteify, Special to

The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor