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How do I get candid feedback?

people walking the hall

"How do I get candid feedback from my manager?"

As another year races to a close, performance appraisals are on the minds of many.

The emotion that arises in you when you hear "performance appraisal" (it definitely evokes some type of emotive response from most people) depends on your personality type and a few other factors.

But no matter your personality type, I’ve learned a way to make a performance appraisal a tremendously more positive experience, especially for women and people of color.

It is simply this: Get candid feedback in intermittent doses. At first glance, this statement may seem elementary. But it's not about your manager and what he or she is doing wrong. It’s about what you need to do.

Women and people of color often fail to realize:

  • It is up to you and only you to seek candid feedback.
  • It is up to you and only you to seek it out on a monthly basis.
  • It is up to you and only you to provide a recap (on a quarterly basis) of the value you have contributed.
  • It is up to you and only you to build a narrative (on a semi-annual basis) that explains why you are performing above expectations.

In his article "Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything," Tony Schwartz, the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of The Way We're Working Isn't Working, says the simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped we are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too continuously, however, can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety and interfere with learning.

Bottom line, it is up to each of us to seek and act on candid feedback as an ongoing part of our engagement strategy. Feedback is a gift and we must be open to receiving it — even when it hurts.

From this day forever, never buy into "You are doing a good job" as candid feedback. This is only code for "You will have a job for the next two weeks." Instead, humbly receive and act on all feedback, then tell the world about how you are building new leadership capabilities that expand your value and impact.

Your job is to serve as your own biggest cheerleader. When you step into this position, the feedback that you receive should just be a matter of validation and calibration — news to you.

Go get your feedback on!

Trudy Bourgeois is founder and CEO of The Center for Workforce Excellence and the author of four books, including the most recent, Equality: Courageous Conversations about Women, Men and Race To Spark A Diversity and Inclusion Breakthrough. She previously held senior leadership roles in the consumer goods industry. 

Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.