Several years ago, I was stuck. Much like the main character of my book “Swimming In Quicksand”, I had applied for several different positions and hadn’t gotten a single offer.
The first time, it was easy to believe them when they said I was a strong candidate but the other person had more large project experience. The second time they told me I interviewed well and made the decision very difficult, but another person edged me out. The third time, I interviewed for a job VERY similar to one where I had been very successful. This time, I wasn’t hired because they wanted the organization to move in a different direction than they thought I would take it.
At that point, I realized I had a reputation issue. I was either doing something wrong in my current position, the interviews, or both. The problem was I had no idea what. I went to my supervisor for help and advice.
My supervisor was very supportive. While he wasn’t aware of anything himself, he promised to ask around and see what others thought might be my weaknesses. A couple weeks later, he came back with some very good feedback. While it was difficult to hear, using that information allowed me to get out of my rut and ultimately find a position that was enjoyable and offered new challenges.
Contrast that with an acquaintance of mine who was recently venting about how her career was going nowhere. Because it worked so well for me, I asked if she had spoken with her supervisor. She told me she had it hadn’t been helpful. She went on to say that instead of being supportive her supervisor started talking about a presentation several weeks ago that hadn’t gone well.
“He started telling me about how poorly it had gone, and how I might have made some different choices”, she said. “It wasn’t my fault they hadn’t come prepared, and I told him that!”
“What happened then?” I asked.
“Well, he mumbled something about being late for a meeting, and hurried off. He still hasn’t gotten back to me with anything helpful…”
To be fair to my acquaintance, I don’t know her supervisor or anything about their relationship. However, he might have been trying to give her feedback about a behavior that is holding her back. If he was, she might have lost a golden opportunity.
Feedback is a gift, and should always be viewed that way. While there might be some trying to do you harm, the vast majority of folks that provide feedback are trying to help. And, most of us can use all the help we can get.
So, be on the lookout for feedback. If you aren’t getting it, ask for it. If someone provides feedback, heaven’s sake don’t argue with them. Smile and say “thank you.” Regardless of your ability or desire to act upon it, that feedback may be the key to your next career move. Wouldn’t that make it one of the most valuable gifts you could ever receive?
Scott’s new book, Swimming In Quicksand, is a parable about taking control of your career that contains proven strategies anyone can use to dog-paddle their way to success. It is available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle format.
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