As I have written in several past blog posts, it is important to seek feedback so that you know if you are improving in certain areas of your life, especially professionally.
Having said that, I recently saw a quote that said, “What other people think about you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.”
This was an Ah! Ha! moment for me because I realized that you need to ask the “right” people versus anyone when you are looking for feedback.
It takes courage to give feedback but more importantly it takes courage to receive feedback.
If the person who is telling you what you should be doing to move forward has ulterior motives, then this is obviously a problem.
They could also be jealous of your progress and want to derail you because it makes them feel like you are moving faster than they are.
So, who should you ask?
Obviously, one’s supervisor would be a good start, but it is necessary to first think about how they operate.
Are they the type who mentions only bad behaviors of you and your colleagues or will they also give compliments when things are going right?
In other words, do they bring you up or are they always bringing you down?
I feel you should think broader when asking for feedback.
When annual reviews are being worked on, most do not think to ask across the organization but instead rely only on comments within their own department.
Are there other departments that you work closely with who can comment on you? If so, schedule coffee cup dates to get their views.
Outside of the organization, who else should you approach?
How about customers, vendors, and other alliances you may have?
They may be more objective because they are not constrained by the official and unofficial “rules and norms” of your organization.
They may also see you in a different light because you are putting your “best foot forward with them” but that is OK.
Just because your career is progressing in the right direction does not mean that you are happy and this can show itself even when interacting with these people.
They may pick up on your non-verbal cues and realize that you really are passionate about the work you do or alternatively you are just going through the motions to get a paycheck.
Many avoid feedback altogether because they think it is always going to be negative but in reality, one can have a much more fulfilling life if they strive to feel more accomplished.
Keeping a journal of the comments that you receive is helpful because you can see where you are progressing, where you need to focus, and identify gaps where maybe training and/or coaching can help.