How to Ask Your Boss for Feedback

Kema Christian-Taylor - WayUp Staff
How to Ask Your Boss for Feedback

In an ideal world, you and your boss would be having weekly 1-on-1s to discuss how the previous week went and how you should proceed moving forward.  The reality, however, is that the bigger the company — and the busier your boss — the less likely those frequent reviews occur. Sometimes, you feel completely in the dark about how you’re performing. Is your boss happy and satisfied with your work, or are there things that you can work on improving — things that your boss isn’t telling you?

Asking your boss for feedback is scary, but as an intern or recent grad, it’s so important to be proactive. For full-time employees, that means way before your mid-year or end-of-year review. Being proactive shows that you’re determined to improve your performance and will also ensure that you won’t be blindsided when you do get your formal review. We recommend having monthly checkpoints with your boss to recap what you’re doing well and what skills you can develop — although the timing of these meetings may vary depending on your boss’s schedule. Send a note to your boss saying something like, “I’d like to set up recurring meetings with you once a month for about 30 minutes to go over the projects I’ve completed and discuss areas for improvement.”

Once you’ve scheduled a recurring time, it’s important to come up with a short agenda so that during the meeting, you’re prepared to give a quick overview of the major projects and tasks that you’ve completed. (You should be keeping a weekly log of your work, so creating this overview will be easy.) After your quick recap, ask your boss, “Based on my performance so far, is there anything I could have done better? What would you like to see from me in the future?” Then, be prepared for constructive criticism – and try your best not to take it personally. Everyone has received constructive criticism multiple times in their career. Look at it this way: Even if you’re the best employee the company has, there is always room for improvement.  You’re getting exactly the advice you need to move forward in your career.

After you receive feedback, make sure you actively work on developing or improving based on your boss’s assessment. That way, in your next 1-on-1 review, you can begin with something like this: “Last time, you told me I should work on A, B and C, and I believe I showed improvement in those areas by doing X, Y and Z. Do you feel that I met those goals, and if not, how I can improve going forward?”

Your boss will be impressed that you listened and that you moved as quickly as possible to apply his or her advice to your work ethic. Not to mention, you’ve made the learning curve in your new career a little less formidable.