When you’re outpacing all your project deadlines, brainstorming fresh ideas on the daily, and even practicing healthy Slack relationships at work, not receiving your boss’s praise—much less a simple thumbs-up emoji—can make you feel like the LVP of the office. But when the topic of feeling undervalued at your nine-to-five came up at the latest Well+Good TALKS—which featured a killer panel talking all things career goals—Andréa Mallard, Athleta‘s Chief Marketing Officer, and Kelly Coffey, CEO of J.P. Morgan’s U.S. Private Bank both agreed that the whole “am I doing a good job or not?” self-doubt spiral has a painfully simple solve: just ask.
“Sometimes it’s about having the conversation and saying, ‘Hey, I’m not getting ahead. I’m not being valued. Is there something I’m not seeing in my performance?’,” says Mallard. She stresses that if you stay silent, you’ll have no way of knowing whether you and your work performance are at fault for the feedback status of radio silence and the negative feels you’re navigating.
Sure, working up the courage to look your superior in the eye and ask for a review might be *gulp*-inducing, but Maggie Mistal, a New York City–based career coach points out that the inner turmoil that can result from the not knowing is much, much worse than initiating a sesh to touch base. “No feedback doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job,” she says. “You don’t know what it means, and it gives you a lot of anxiety—so why not just find out?” Like all the other connections in your life, your relationship with your boss is just that: a relationship. And initiating communication is a great way to keep it healthy.
“Basically pull [the feedback] out of your boss and facilitate the conversation. Your boss is probably running 100 miles per hour and has many different responsibilities on their plate along with managing you.” —Maggie Mistal, career coach
Once you land a slot on your boss’s schedule, Mistal emphasizes that making the most of your face time is your next concern. Don’t accept a simple, “You’re doing an A+ job!” or “Well, you meet all your deadlines.” Instead, ask for the deets. “Say, ‘Oh, can you tell me more? Is there something I did in particular? Is there something you want me to do more of or less of?,” Mistal suggests. “Basically pull [the feedback] out of your boss and facilitate the conversation. Your boss is probably running 100 miles per hour and has many different responsibilities on their plate along with managing you.”
Try to channel your inner-journalist to treat the one-on-one like an interview. “You want to really delve in as if you’re a reporter who wants to get the scoop.” Armed with this mind-set, you’ll be able to temporarily cut your feelings and assumptions out of the picture to let your boss express their full perspective. And if you do get challenged about why you’re seeking out feedback, simply be honest: Say you really care about your job, and that you want to make sure you’re bringing your slay-all-day MO to fruition.
Lastly, be ready to hear anything—good or not quite what you were hoping to hear. “You have to be open to get any feedback that’s going to be constructive,” Coffey says. “Listen to it and don’t be defensive about it.” By being open and ready to take feedback action points and implement them, you can just keep crushing your goals—minus the gripping paranoia that comes with attempting to read your boss’s mind.
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