As many of you begin internships or full-time roles, we encourage you to proactively seek feedback and evaluate your performance. Doing so will help you build new skills, demonstrate a desire to grow, and solidify your reputation within your organization as a high-potential person.
When seeking to improve your performance, probe your supervisor and coworkers to get specific feedback (a few tactical approaches are included in this blog post), and then unpack and act on that feedback as follows:
- Diagnose the severity, cause, and implications of each problem identified by your colleagues. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why is this a problem/obstacle at work?
- How does this issue play out in a negative way?
- Why do you want to improve in this area?
- Is this a real or perceived problem? Who within your organization observes it? Who thinks it is a problem?
- Evaluate the problem to understand why you are unable to behave as you (or others) desire. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you realize when you are exhibiting the behavior? If so, what is going on at that moment? How do you feel when the behavior is happening?
- Can you pinpoint (or hypothesize) why you are exhibiting the behavior?
- Is a lack of training or something else blocking your success?
- Brainstorm and experiment with new tactics to improve your behavior. Seek advice from colleagues who excel in your problem areas or who have a long tenure at the company. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What behaviors are most valued by this organization?
- How does this person improve their performance/internalize feedback?
- What is this person’s perception when you exhibit a problematic behavior?
- Does this person have any suggestions for you to change this behavior?
- What resources/training opportunities exist within the organization to help you build skills to overcome this problem?
Here is a simplified, real-world example of implementing these steps to address an employee’s lack of concise communication in meetings:
- Diagnose: This problem is noticeable because the audience stops listening, which lowers the employee’s credibility within the firm and inhibits their ability to influence others effectively.
- Evaluate: This employee’s excessive talking happens most frequently in meetings when the employee does not fully understand the question asked by a colleague or internal stakeholder.
- Brainstorm and experiment: The employee should try new tactics and then reflect on their success. Here are some potential tactics for this employee:
- Observe other employees’ communication styles—both before and during meetings.
- Anticipate questions. Before the meeting, talk with attendees about their areas of concern regarding the topic you are presenting. Prepare answers to these questions.
- Seek clarification. During the meeting, ask for clarification on questions causing you confusion before you answer them.