Too many managers avoid giving any kind of feedback, regardless of whether ita��s positive or negative. If you work for a boss who doesna��t provide feedback, ita��s easy to feel rudderless. It can be especially disorienting if youa��re new in the role, new to the company, or a recent graduate new to the workforce. In the absence of specific guidance, is there any way to know what the average boss would want you to work on?
While everyone will have different strengths and weaknesses they need to work on, when we examined our database of performance evaluation information for more than 7,000 individual contributors and 5,000 managers, we noticed a reliable pattern. There were five behaviors that managers most often associated with high performance:
Delivering results. The strongest, most consistent correlations were skills that focused on achieving results. When individuals were able to achieve goals on schedule and did everything possible to getA�results, managers were impressed. Another critical component was the quality of work. The person needed to deliver outputs that met high standards.
Being a trusted collaborator. High performance ratings went with being trusted. Being trusted emanatesA�from good interpersonal skills. Strong collaborators were excellent communicators and were held up as role models. Some individuals strive to stand out by working independently, so that ita��s clear who deserves the credit. Our data suggests those individuals typically fail. The highest performers, on the other hand, cooperated with other groups and were trusted in making decisions.
Having strong technical/professional expertise. For both managers and individual contributors, technical/professional expertise drove their performance evaluation. People devoid of a deep understanding of the technical issues facing the organization work at a significant disadvantage. Some come into an organization with fresh expertise but, by coasting, become obsolete over time. Technology changes quickly. Keeping up-to-date is essential.
Marketing their work well. If someone is frustrated or disappointed with their performance rating, they often lament and think: a�?My work should speak for itself.a�? Good products are successful usually because they are not only a good product a��A�they have been marketed well, too. The fact is, good work rarely speaks for itself. Managers are surrounded by hundreds of shiny objects seeking to grab their attention. Good work needs a little marketing.
As you read through this list, think about how you stack up on each of these. Do you have strong expertise but need to work on your collaborative skills? Are you a great team player who needs to learn to toot your own horn? How much output do you generate, compared with the rest of your team, and how is the quality of what you turn in? You can try asking peers for feedback on these areas if you cana��t get any feedback from your boss.
If youa��re a manager, our data dive revealed two additional qualities to focus on:
Speed. We have been tracking this dimension for several years. Ita��s become a critical factor influencing individual success. Information is flowing faster, competitors are coming out with new products, global dynamics are changing preferences, and the need to move work at a fast pace is a key differentiator between good leaders and great leaders. In researching our book Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution, we found compelling information that leaders who were speedy were rated as being two times more effective as leaders, had significantly more engaged employees, and were more likely to get promoted.
The ability to inspire and motivate others. We have rated the effectiveness of this skill forA�more than 85,000 leaders, and found that, compared withA�15 other leadership competencies, this is rated the lowest. Yet when we asked more than 1 million respondents which competency is most important, a�?inspires and motivatesa�? ranks number one. Fifty years ago, people might have worked for money alone, but today people want to be inspired.
We might also humbly suggest that if youa��re a manager, you try to get a little better at giving feedback.