How am I doing at work? The importance of feedback.

No one talked.

The boss did not call meetings. We worked in silos thinking that everything was going on well with the world. Until, one day work became an autonomous unchallenging tryst with life itself.

A very common situation. During the mid-1990s, I worked for a boss who sat just two feet away. A very nice man but he never believed in feedback. If asked, he would shrug his shoulders and say: “You are doing just fine.”

Managerial feedback is as important as workplace harmony. As human beings, our innate curiosity makes us ask: How and Why.
“You’ve got to look into the mirror before giving feedback to others,” says Suzanne Peterson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “Giving and receiving feedback enhances your credibility,” Dr. Peterson said at a recent coaching session I had the good fortune to attend.

How many of us have asked (or rather dared to ask) direct reports about our own performance? I’ve done it and it has helped me immensely. In one instance, a direct report said: “You need to tell us clearly what you want us to do and then let go.” Translated, it meant: “Shut up and trust me with my work.” I understood clearly that trust matters.

Here are some common sense tips to improve feedback:

  • Make a list of what you do once every two weeks
  • Share  important achievements and challenges with your boss
  • When good things happen, let your boss know. This adds up during your performance review.
  • Jot down key accomplishments as they will help you in your career
  • Always keep an eye on where you want to go (make better lists)
  • Seek feedback from direct reports and peers
  • Even if your boss doesn’t respond, keep sending lists. We all know  that record keeping helps.
  • Finally, believe in yourself. We can improve and help others be better.

Finally, the truth about work-life balance!

Do you strive for work-life balance?

The truth is, there is nothing like that. According to  Jim Ward, CEO of the Phoenix Symphony “There is no work-life balance…career comes first in your priority and don’t expect family to come first.” Ward’s piece of advice went  to a group of fledgling millennials thinking about yoga, children, movies, hitting the bar and hiking after an eight-hour work schedule.

At last,  it was great to hear some truth about the mythical work-life balance from top business and non-profit leaders in Arizona. Here are some things I collectively learned from Ward, Merl Waschler, CEO of the Valley of the Sun United Way, Mike Nealy, CEO of the Phoenix Coyotes and Mary Maruscelli, President, JP Morgan Chase, Arizona. They were speaking at an event organized jointly by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce at SkySong on February 22.

  • Commit 200% to your job
  • Pick a job you are passionate about
  • Treat everyone with dignity- you never know who will help you the most
  • Community involvement is critical
  • Try to decide earlier on what you really want to do
  • Write down your goals both short and long-term 
  • Stay focused
  • Get outside your comfort zone and look at the hard spots
  • Do not get complacent- take advantage of change in your organization
  • Learn from bad decisions
  • Look for people who can move your career forward
  • Learn new things every day
  • Being scared at the helm will motivate you 
  • Set one goal you want to achieve at a job- If you can’t find anything else interesting, it’s time to move on
  • Always look for things nobody else wants to do
  • Be open-minded and honest- look for context in your decisions and arguments
  • Integrity is key
  • An overworked employee is a frustrated employee who is working against a goal that cannot be achieved
  • If you are excited and passionate about your job, you will get some balance
  • Over-communicate- always. It helps.
  • Last but most important- find time to work out