Plan Ahead for 2015: Replace Year-End Reviews with Project-End Feedback

Posted by: Matt Nagler, Managing Partner
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Matt Nagler

If you’re anything like me, you’re heading into the end of the year thinking about the next one and how to make it your best work year yet. One of the most effective ways to improve performance and make my work as strong as possible is to get feedback from people. The best way to get feedback isn’t to wait for your year-end performance review. It’s to ask for it.

Ask after every project
Every project? Yep, every project. Giving – and implementing – effective feedback takes time and effort. If you only ask once a year, the advice you’ll get will be less precise and is more likely to feel overwhelming. The more often you ask, the more comfortable people will be taking the time to give you worthwhile feedback. And the more opportunities you’ll have to incorporate it into your work. Ask as closely to the end of a project as possible. The more time passes, the fewer particulars people will remember. Checking in frequently will not only help your work but also let your superiors know that you’re always striving for more.

Ask specific questions
You’re looking for valuable information that will help you improve yourself. Seek it out by asking specific questions. Start with, “How could I make this better?” There may be aspects of the project that you weren’t comfortable with or ones you knew could be streamlined. Ask about them. Specific questions show an eagerness to learn and improve as well as self-awareness.

Act on it
The point of getting feedback isn’t just to hear it, it’s to use it. There’s not expectation that you’ll be perfect the next day, but there is the expectation that if you’re asking, it’s for a reason. Implement ideas at a pace that’s not overwhelming, but is actionable. Once you know what you want to improve, set out a plan that you can follow in order to achieve it. And always remember, if something was unclear or you need more guidance, ask.

Expand the Conversation
As you get more comfortable with the process, take it to the next step. Asking for feedback not only provides you with valuable information, but it creates sustainable relationships and opens up new channels for collaboration. Start projects with “What could I do better this time?” In your post-project discussion, talk not only about what you did well and what needs work, but what your broader goals are and how you can incorporate the feedback into the bigger picture and not just the next project.

Being able to say that even at the top of your game you know you can improve is the sign of a real leader. Remember, it’s your career and you need to drive it.