Dear J.T. & Dale: I graduated last year and landed a job as an administrative assistant. This is not what I want to do, but I’d hoped to move up to a marketing role. I just had my first annual review and assumed it would be a good one. Instead, I was given a list of things to improve. The worst was they told me I don’t dress professionally and to advance, I need to reconsider what I wear. How could they let me go a whole year without that feedback? I can’t look at anyone at work, and am looking for new jobs online every night. — Lara
J.T.: Well, Lara, you aren’t going to like me very much, but I hope you’ll consider what I’m about to say: You need to stop the “all-about-me” show if you want to have professional success.
DALE: Ouch! Isn’t a job review all about her?
J.T.: No, it’s about her work. And she got an average review, not a bad one. Unlike in school, it’s common for companies to reserve high ratings for only the top 10 percent of their staff. So, Lara, you’ve got room for improvement, and your manager did you the favor of explaining how to advance. I think you’d be nuts to leave this job! You clearly are valued there, and they care enough to want to guide you to success. Trust me when I say this is something you don’t want to throw away.
DALE: J.T. is right, Lara; nevertheless, you’re right to think you should not go a year without feedback. A good boss doesn’t wait for the annual review, but gives quick doses of advice and encouragement all year. That was the genius of the book, The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D., and Spencer Johnson, M.D., which came out nearly 30 years ago. Even so, there still are plenty of bosses who fail at this. And when that happens to you, you have to go to them and get feedback. At least once a month, go to your bosses and ask how you’re doing and how you could be more effective. Plead for candid advice, not just empty praise. Not only will you become a star employee, you’ll develop a much closer relationship with your managers, who will see you as someone destined for promotion.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.
Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.
© 2011 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.