Take a few moments to do a “spring tune-up” of your career.
What doesn’t get said about our individual performance is sometimes the most valuable information in managing our career. The real opinions of bosses and co-workers matter when it comes to job assignments, promotions and opportunities. This is sometimes called the “invisible resume.” For your “spring tune-up,” ask for frank, honest feedback from those you trust. We often don’t see ourselves as others do. But by asking for feedback, strengths and areas for improvement are clearer to us.
For strengths, once they are clear, it’s easier to keep doing it. We often don’t pay attention to the positive impact we have. Rather, we tend to focus on mistakes, or things we wish we had done differently. But, a formula for success is getting really clear on our gifts and then nurturing them. For example to learn that you are the one on the team who is known as the positive, “can-do” problem-solver can strengthen your confidence.
For areas for improvement, it can be more difficult. Everyone has room for improvement — but not everyone is open to looking at it. And often people are hesitant to give feedback on areas of concern. Some tips for successfully getting honest input:
- Guard against becoming defensive. Receiving negative feedback is not easy, even when you are asking for it. Often, the immediate reaction is to explain or justify the action or situation. But any defensiveness will close down the conversation — and may prevent future feedback.
- Focus on understanding. Your purpose in having this conversation is to understand how this person experiences you and your work. Ask clarifying questions, remain open and curious. Most people are not good at giving feedback, so working to extract the message is helpful to you and ultimately is most respectful to the giver.
- Work with the new knowledge. Take some time to reflect and interpret. If some of the feedback is difficult, ask for help. Let others know what you are working on. If you disagree with the feedback, take some time to digest, and reopen the discussion when you have thought it through. The gap is sometimes the difference between intent and impact — we intend for a certain outcome, but how it is actually experienced, the impact, may be very different. Keep your purpose in mind — this process is about your intention to understand the impact you have.
Do your “tune-up” regularly. Make it an ongoing part of your work.