Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Let People Know How They’re Doing

Talk to me about my work!“I feel like my boss is unhappy with my work because I’ve made some mistakes. But, he hasn’t said anything to me and I’m afraid to ask him about it.”  That was the tone of a recent question to the Ask the Workplace Doctors website.  (Dr. William Gorden, who served on the faculty of Kent State University’s School of Communication Studies for 25 years, is the founder of the site and the driving force behind it. I am one of the three primary contributors and I enjoy the opportunity to help people–some might say, to meddle.)

“How am I doing?” is a question we all need to be asking and it is a question we need to answer even before it is asked of us, in personal relationships as well as at work.

Letting employees know how they are doing in their work should be a regular supervisory activity.  Every day is an employee evaluation time. It is unfair and unproductive to wait until a formal evaluation interview, then give a broad, multiple-month impression of the quality and quantity of an employee’s work. Even if specific instances are cited, time will have reduced the effectiveness of the critique or commendation.  

An irony about work evaluation: The longer we wait to tell people about work problems, the more likely it is the wrong actions have become a habit. The longer we wait to tell people they are doing well, the more likely it is that they will stop doing well. Supervisors and managers should be communicating with purpose–with an emphasis on what should continue and what should be done instead. Frequent, quick communications about work can achieve much more than infrequent, closed-door talks.

Letting supervisors and managers know how they are doing should also be a regular activity.  It may not be possible for you to tell your manager or supervisor that his or her communication style is frustrating or irritating  to you or that work changes have been counter-productive, in your opinion.  However, it is possible to let the manager or supervisor know when the working relationship is going well or when decisions have had positive results. The advice to praise what you want to have happen more often applies very well in upward communications.

Friends and family want to know, too.  Look for opportunities to praise specific actions by children, spouses and friends. Also,  be honest enough to let people know if you feel hurt, frustrated or angry–and be specific about it rather than acting peeved, irritated, hurt or sulky about everything, not just the specific thing.

How am I doing? Ask the question if you are wondering.  Do others the favor of answering that question before they have to ask it.

August 31st, 2009 Posted by | Life and Work, Supervision and Management | 9 comments