Whether Working Remotely or Not, Ask Your Shy Boss for the Feedback You Need to Succeed
Kudos to you if you care about feedback and want to boost your success on the job. Double kudos if you are willing to ask your feedback-challenged boss to open up about what you can do to improve. But you need to plan to do it the right way!
Start with a goal
If you ask for feedback out of the blue—as in, “Can you give me some feedback about how I’m doing,” an introverted or conflict-avoiding boss is likely to do one or both of these things:
#1 Continue avoiding feedback & give you a vague reply such as “You’re doing fine. I’ll let you know if there’s a problem.”
#2 Consider you as needy, and think, “Hmmm. Terry needs constant validation and is a bit high maintenance.”
It’s a lot better if you frame your request by explaining what you are trying to achieve. Your boss will get it and will actually be impressed, if you explain:
“I have a goal of leading one of our large projects, so can you give me some feedback on how you see my work on the Parker project?”
“My goal is to master the financial side as well as the marketing side, so can you coach me about which skills to work on next?”
Listen with curiosity
Once you ask for feedback, your boss may come out with something you didn’t expect. It could be something you really don’t want to hear. Keep reminding yourself that your bigger goal is to learn everything you can. Reacting defensively—even if it only shows in your body language—will usually shut down the feedback-challenged boss. Unconsciously, your boss may conclude, “I don’t think you can handle feedback very well.”
Ask questions to clarify As your boss speaks, ask for clarification, but do it in an open and sincere way. With an attitude of openness to feedback, you’re likely to hear and receive more feedback that can help you. With an encouraging voice, ask for examples and ask for how your boss would handle the situations being described.
Prime the pump if they’re holding back If, after all of this, your boss is hardly saying anything, you can suggest some areas that need to be improved, as in: “Which of theses areas—like handling tough clients or coordinating with the other departments—are most important for me to develop right now?”
Gain agreement on a plan As the two of you conclude your conversation, make sure you are feeling that your boss is on the same page as you re: what you’re going to do next to improve and what you’re expand that is going well. Write all of this down, set a timeframe for getting back together, and use the notes to remind both you and your boss of how you’ll boost your success.
Now you’re ready to ask your boss for feedback that is valuable while sending a strong message that you are a high achiever!