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.

Joe Capehart on Opinion Writing

Every morning, Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Joe Capehart  looks forward to separating the wheat from the chaff. As an opinion writer  for the The Washington Post, the job gives him a lot of freedom, and along with it comes immense responsibility.

I listened  to Joe’s take on opinion writing earlier this evening in  Washington, D.C. and here are a few key points:

  1. The real opinion writer gets abundant freedom to look at different sides of a story. Then, comes the hard part. They have to squeeze out valid points and frame an opinion that makes sense to their readers.
  2. In opinion writing, taking sides is a difficult choice. One needs to argue the facts before selecting a path. Sometimes, opinion writers find that both sides have good points and in that case they will need to present both sides of the argument.
  3. Opinion writers work a lot like reporters-they have their news sources, they gather facts and data.
  4. So, what separates a straight news journalist from an opinion writer? Opinion writers get the freedom to go beyond the 5W’s and H (who, what when, where, why and how?).
  5. Will straight news writers like becoming opinion writers? Sometimes, but with much difficulty.
  6. Opinion writing plays a critical role as it often helps shape the politics of the day.