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.

Keep chronic workaholics at bay: Ten tips for 2012

Chronic workaholics have become part of my life. Some influence  me and several are in constant recovery mode. One just started living on a boathouse hoping that the sound of ripples will ease the impact of work-related stress.

In 2012, I want all my friends to stay away from work-related stress. Our collective workaholism will have no impact on  our already stressed, chronically exploited, seven billion plus Planet Earth. So, here are 10 tips to maintain a safe distance from friends, co-workers, bosses, family members, insane relatives and employers who want to make you do more at any cost.

  1. Learn to say the 2-letter word we seldom say: NO. To your manager, to your nagging friend, to your employer for demands that extend beyond your work day.
  2. Consider work as an eight-hour fun ride. Plan well, be shrewd and look for stars beyond sunset and not project deadlines.
  3. Outdo your employer’s expectations every day.  Be creative and you can get it done.
  4. Network. Find friends outside your profession and learn new things after work. Develop a business plan for a new venture that you like and always have a Plan B and a solid exit strategy.
  5. Join an association that has ties to your profession or volunteer at a civic group. Make sure it’s interesting and fun to do.
  6. Check if the sky is still blue- at least once a day. This will remind you that there are better things in life than work, bosses, co-workers, projects, deadlines, social media sites and electronic gadgets. Make sure you exercise and  just 30 minutes is fine.
  7. Find “me time” at least once a week. This will get you a greater return than your paycheck in the long run.
  8. Wind down on Fridays. This is a must-do and  make it a point to have fun.
  9. “Be present,” with your family once you are at home. Don’t think of that last freaking email from your co-worker at 5 p.m. when your kid needs your attention. The rest can wait.
  10. Don’t waste money on self-help books. Learn to say NO and the world will take care of itself.