‘Tis the season … of new graduates!
One of the tough lessons I learned as I was transitioning from the world of academics to the world of professional work is, unlike school, I wasn’t consistently getting feedback. Every time I completed a task it’s not like I was getting assigned a letter or number to gauge my progress or to hold myself accountable.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been working for several years now, it can be tough to receive, if you’re lucky, performance evaluations every six months to a year. Even then, those evaluations may be very perfunctory or superficial, not really qualitatively gauging your performance.
About the only other time you may get feedback is when something goes wrong. That’s not always fair or objective, nor is it very motivating.
So what’s a professional to do? Instead of throwing up your hands and falling into the apathy trap, you’ll need to create the parameters and take the initiative to acquire feedback. Because it’s really not something that you should live without. I frequently see the power of analyzing and knowing one’s strengths. As a StrengthsFinder coach, I know how much understanding your innate talents, for example, can influence your performance – it’s been proven that your talent is a key driving force behind your behavioral tendancies, work habits, communication style and what motivates you to do better.
Of course, it’s easier if you are already among the (rare) organizations with such formalized talent assessment and benchmarking tools in place. If you’re not among that lucky few, then you’ll have to structure your own “program” of sorts.
Here are some pretty painless ways to acquire that crucial self-analysis:
- Assemble your “Board of Advisers.” You don’t have to completely exist on an island. Gather people whose opinions you trust and whose input you value. They’ll be your best allies, and also offer perspective that you can’t possibly have going it alone.
- Seek out conversations. Those you’re seeking out should include different types of people within your organization, not just supervisors but also peers and colleagues. Get their honest insight. Remember: You don’t have to wait for the next performance review to ask your supervisor for feedback.
- Self educate. There are a lot of assessment tools and published personal development resources that can be the key to increased awareness and discovery of your own personality, talent construct, and leadership style. From assessments like StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs, and DiSC (to name only a few), there are a variety of tools to provide insight and self-awareness. There are also enough leadership development books out there featuring personal assessments to fill not just a section of a bookstore, but probably an entire library. And, don’t forget online journals and blogs!
If we all received the frequent, value-added feedback we need to grow, I’m firmly convinced we all would be better off. I recently shared some statistics with you about how almost as many workers are “actively disengaged” (they’re the “bad apples” in the organization that can infect and un-do any progress) as are “engaged” (they’re your star employees) – at 20 percent and 30 percent of workers surveyed by Gallup respectively.
With more attention to quality tools to analyze worker performance, the gap between the number of actively disengaged and engaged employees would grow, for the better.
But for right now, if you don’t have the tools you need from your employer, make ‘em yourself!
Go ahead……actively seek out the feedback that will equip you to consistently tweak your performance to achieve the success that you’re capable of.