One of my favorite devices in my car is the GPS. There are several reasons why I like the GPS device, the first being I like how it helps me to reach my driving goals by providing concise directions. The second reason why I like the device is based on how it constantly gathers feedback and provides updates such as the progress made towards my destination, current traffic conditions including potential detours, and it lets me know when I’m going in the wrong direction.
When managing our career we should incorporate a similar GPS feedback system to provide valuable information on how we are progressing towards our career goals. The feedback required for us to make the necessary adjustments and changes to our career action plan has to come from a wide range of sources such as the following:
Our Self – Taking a long hard look in the mirror to analyze truly how we are doing is the first step to becoming open to receiving feedback. While you are looking in the mirror I would suggest you do the following:
- Be critical and self-reflecting – Take time to analyze both your strengths and weakness to understand how they impact your ability to attain your goals. Take time reflect on a daily basis to identify what went well and what could have gone better. Also as you complete various projects and major actions ask yourself if I had to do this project over what would I do differently.
- Look ahead – Constantly analyze the current work landscape to identify potential roadblocks and detours.
- Listen to the silence – Listen for what’s not being said because someone has not said something it doesn’t mean that everything is fine.
Manager – In your monthly 1:1 sessions with your manager it would be good to discuss the following:
- Core competencies – Discuss the core competencies required for your current role and the next role you are seeking in your career. (For example if you are Software Program Manager one of your core competencies may be project management)
- Identify development opportunities – Based on your past career discussions and current performance identify ways, opportunities, and actions that would help enable you to grow your skills.
- What’s going well and not so well – Real feedback is required for consistent growth so have an open and honest conversation on how things are going.
Peers – Our peers can be a great source of feedback but do realize some of the feedback may be filtered at times because of internal politics, and direct and indirect competition among team members.
- 360 Feedback Survey – A 360 feedback survey allows you gather anonymous feedback from peers, managers and associates on your working styles which also help you to identify potential blind spots. (Sample 360 Survey – www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=510151843628)
- 1:1 Conversations – Ask for direct feedback from those you are working with as you complete major tasks and projects.
Career Mentors – Mentors are great sources to receive feedback and guidance on how to plan ones career. When meeting with your mentor it would be great to seek their opinion on the following:
- Discuss feedback – As you gather feedback from your various sources bounce some of it off your mentor to get their opinion.
- Outline next steps – Once you have updated your career action plan based on the feedback you have received have your mentor help you identify any potential holes or roadblocks.
While gathering feedback you will receive a wide range of comments some of it will be good, some bad and some may just be noise. During the entire feedback process remember you have asked for feedback to aid in your career growth so you must be willing to take it and not be defensive when some of the comments are not favorable. Receiving feedback is powerful tool so as you gather feedback constantly look for ways to utilize it to help you achieve your goals.
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