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It's true that your leadership team will use the performance management process, and specifically the employee performance review, to help develop the organization's talent pool. However, when you think about yourself, I want you to realize that ultimately, you are responsible for developing yourself and building your career. That's why I want you to engage the employee review process, but then remember that it's only one source of data about you as a performer. What we know about successful people at work, is that they value the review process, but they always go beyond the formal mandated review, to find other sources of feedback.
This is often referred to as feedback-seeking behavior. It's a conscious choice to make an effort to determine the correctness and adequacy of your behaviors directed towards goal achievement. In general, this type of behavior is thought to have several benefits, including increased clarity about how one is perceived, a chance to learn new things that assist job performance, and a chance to actively manage the impressions others have about you. Before engaging in this type of behavior, it's also important to consider the associated costs.
The first is the risk of looking bad. In some cases, seeking performance feedback can be interpreted as a flaw and negatively affect how others view you. Next, there is an ego cost. The more healthy your ego is the more it might feel bruised when you voluntarily seek out help from others. Finally, there's an effort cost, to think about this type or behavior and then enact the behavior takes time and that's time that now can't be spent elsewhere. In a summary fashion, let me address these concerns like this.
The stronger your track record, the more benefit you'll receive through feedback seeking. The more questionable your track record, the more feedback seeking might be interpreted negatively. Assuming you think it's worth the risk, the good news is that it presents a low burden to whomever your speaking with. What you're asking of them is simple and discrete and you're not asking them to be a coach or a mentor, you're simply seeking a few bits of discrete insight from time to time. In a sense, this is a light version of coaching and people don't view it as a burden, so they're more likely to be helpful.
With that in might let's think about how you choose one or two targets. This is the person from whom you hope to receive feedback. And we are talking about one or two, not five or ten. That would make you problematically in need of feedback. Okay, your ideal person is clearly more experienced than you, not your best friend, but a person with whom you have a positive work relationship, a person who has good exposure to you and your work, and a person you know to be honest, so they'll give it to you straight instead of just being nice.
Before you actually begin interacting with them, I want you to always start by making a commitment to yourself to engage feedback seeking with the goal of improving your performance and not to simply manage impressions. Also, be sure to make these conversations in person, they're important and personal. So don't rely on email or the phone. The process is simple, approach the person privately and ask them if they're willing to give you five minutes to chat about what you've been working on. Tell them you're just seeking a little feedback from a more experienced pair of eyes.
People love to be experts and they usually wish to be helpful. So with few exceptions, they'll say yes. Before the conversation, take a few notes so that during your time together, you can remember to ask about certain goals or behaviors you want to address. At first, it takes a little time getting comfortable asking for feedback in this manner, but over time, what you'll find is that if you're genuine and effective at using the guidelines we just discussed, you won't have to seek feedback as often. People will become increasingly comfortable giving you the feedback you need without you having to ask.
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