Exchanging feedback is an excellent way to open up discussions, a chance for you to get to know your supervisors and vice versa. Ask for feedback to learn, not from a fear of making mistakes!
A new approach
It can be very challenging to ask for feedback, especially if you are new at your job and don’t have an established relationship with your supervisor. My current Work Learn position as a Logistics Student Assistant at the International Student Initiative is my first office position, so when it came to asking for feedback, I didn’t know where to start.
Initially, I would ask for feedback out of fear of making small mistakes. I was also trying to quickly familiarize myself with the work and culture of a professional office environment. What has changed over time is my motive. I no longer ask for feedback because I am too scared of trusting my intuition. Instead, I ask because I want to learn from different perspectives and how others, especially those with more experience, handle their tasks.
Taking the first step
The extent to which feedback can affect different individuals is dependent on how eager one is to learn. At my workplace, feedback is given both formally and informally. I get feedback on my performance on specific tasks from time to time and in return, I do the same to my supervisors.
In a formal setting, I would give verbal appreciation and positive feedback when my supervisors were able to communicate reminders or warnings in an encouraging way. I like to start off by asking why they chose to do something a certain way before suggesting a solution.
Informal feedback, usually regarding small tasks, is given through brief chats in between work or a short message on Skype. My team and its supervisors generally meet on a weekly basis to discuss updates at the office, goals for the week and feedback on the team and overall operation. The feedback comes with suggestions and actionable steps for future reference, which I find very helpful as they provide direction that helps me make better decisions and solve more complex problems.
Asking to learn
Asking for feedback is an ongoing learning process as you have to take into consideration the situations in which to ask for feedback. It shows that you are open to being challenged and developed. My supervisor once said, “If you face a problem, you can ask but try to also come to me with your solutions.” This is great advice, as it gives you a chance to come up with your own insights and to be more intentional in asking for feedback.
Being intentional means asking questions that result in constructive feedback and learning. For instance, instead of just asking “Is my work satisfactory?”, try thinking about a specific project/task you are assigned to. On top of asking about your performance in finishing the task, ask for ways that the task can possibly be done more efficiently. This will also open up discussions and help your supervisors get to know your abilities better.
Overcoming your hesitation
Starting a conversation about your job performance can be intimidating and it may take some time to get used to. I am the type of person who mulls over the words I use to convey my thoughts.
Personally, asking for feedback was challenging because I struggled with trying to use the right language or I wanted to phrase my question in a way that doesn’t show too much vulnerability. However, the struggles I went through taught me that asking for feedback should not be complicated. Your supervisors are there to guide you and when you ask for feedback, it helps them know how to provide personalized support. Keeping that in mind, I now like to keep my questions simple and ask for feedback as soon as I feel like I need them.
I believe it is always good to ask for feedback directly, be it on your overall performance or regarding certain areas of your work. It shows initiative and your willingness to understand the expectations they have for your role in the workplace. Exchanging feedback is an excellent way to open up discussions, a chance for you to get to know your supervisors better and vice versa.
Despite the initial discomfort, the key to progress in your learning is to be willing to ask and accept feedback from others. Ask for feedback as soon as you think you need it. Keep an open mind and ask your supervisors to give you honest feedback whenever they think you need it. Just remember that they are there to support you.