When making a pros and cons list of a job role, my relationship with my manager has always been a line item. I have felt if the relationship is open and I get feedback, the relationship has a better chance of being good. It's when I don't know what they think about my performance that makes me feel uncomfortable and insecure.
In the past, at random times, I used to ask my managers if I was going to be fired because I was not getting regular feedback from them and it made me feel insecure about my job. One time I even wrote "Am I going to be fired?" with a YES and NO checkboxes on a sticky note. Looking back on it, it was a clear cry for some attention and reinforcement. I stopped asking if I was being fired because I decided that it didn't come across as very professional. I wish I would have expressed my need for feedback so I knew where I stood with my manager and within the company.
Regular feedback lets me know:
- How I influence others
- What the best use of my time is
- What goals I am expected to meet
- How my performance is tracked
- Why my role exists, areas of improvement
- What my relationship is with my manager as well as with my teammates
- Where I stand
These items are important to know and understand. If we aren't told these things we spend time and energy questioning them, making it very hard to be self-aware.
I read a couple leadership books, took management courses, and decided it was too much work for me and not my cup of tea. Yet, I have seen many managers who don't take their role and responsibility as a manager as something they need to actually do. If you have people who report to you, I think you need to understand they have needs as employees. They may not all have the same needs or respond to the same things, but it's a manager's job to find out what employees need and work with them. Just as you would get training or learn your craft as a programmer, chef, athlete, factory worker, or stock broker, why wouldn't you learn the skills needed to be a manager?
Maybe it's just me, maybe I am the only one concerned with feedback? So, I decided to ask some friends and co-workers, how important is feedback from your manager? 71% of the replies I received said "very important," 26% said "somewhat important," and only one person replied that feedback wasn't important at all. The real eye opener was when I asked, how often do you receive feedback? 68% of the replies said "Only when something comes up (good or bad)." It seems a little crazy to me that the people who believed that feedback was very important were only receiving feedback if and when something came up. Doesn't make sense right?
Feedback is obviously an essential part of learning and growing. It can encourage greater achievement, promote self-esteem and motivation, increase productivity, and encourage dialog between management and employees. If you don't get feedback it's like going on a trip without a map. It's free and has such a large positive impact. So, why not learn how to and start to do it?