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I joined my team a little less than a year ago. Overall, I think my manager is the best one I've had to date; my prior managers were extremely hands-off and feedback was pretty shallow.

By comparison, my current manager freely dispenses tactical feedback in the moment. He has one-on-ones set up monthly, which are supposed to be more strategic and high-level "how are things going". I've asked for critical feedback every time. In our first one, he gave me minor feedback that has not come up since. Every other one since, though, it's returned as praise and to just keep doing what I'm doing.

I'm obviously not perfect, though. I'd really like more candid, critical feedback; even if I am exceeding expectations for my current role, I could still have areas of improvement in an absolute sense. I've thought about asking about things I think may not be my strong suit, like soft skills, and asking for confirmation. But I don't want to come off as insecure, either, since I could list off a litany of things I have self-doubts on, rational/justified or otherwise. (Also, I'm not sure how to frame said self-doubts if I did.) Is there a good way to really drive home that I would really prefer negative feedback, and push back if it is uniformly positive?

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The kind of feedback you're after isn't that common. Managers simply don't have the time to collect and collate information like this for every employee.

The ideal person to provide this level of feedback is you. You have the intelligence and the maturity to evaluate your own actions and act on them accordingly. Be your own feedback conduit.

Yes, you could ask for negative feedback and ways in which you could improve, but as you say, this could make you appear needy/insecure and won't come across well. And no one really likes to say negative things about someone who's working to an acceptable standard.

Don't focus on the negatives, you'll get fixated by them. Do what you need to do to do your work and support your team. Leave areas of improvement for your formal assessments (if you have them) and propose anything that you feel is lacking.

  • yes, asking for negative feedback looks strange – Kilisi Jul 26 '18 at 14:25
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How fortunate to get constant praise from your manager - I know a lot of people would love to be in this situation!

What you can do (and I speak from personal experience here, the feedback I got a few months ago was 'you're doing great! keep being you!' which is very positive, and also very vague!) is ask for more specifics. If the word 'critical' isn't getting you the feedback you need, then there are other questions you can try:

  • What would you like to see more of from me?
  • Stop / Start / Continue - what should I stop/start/continue doing? (It sounds like you're getting a lot of continues, but what you're after are some starts and stops)
  • How can I improve?
  • If I could do one thing even better, what would that be?

I don't know how productive it would be to mention things you think are flaws and then ask for confirmation. Perhaps frame it as a 'I struggle with X, and I think you could help me with it by doing Y.'

Good luck! :)

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Ideally, your manager should have one-ones setup more frequently, but monthly is still miles ahead of what most managers do.

You want more feedback - the question is why. Presumably you have goals, like earning more, or moving into management or leadership, or moving into business, etc.

You need to clarify your goals in your mind, then ask your manager for feedback pertaining to how best to attain those goals. So if you want to be a manager, ask "I want to become a manager, what do I need to do or how do I need to change to get there?".

Now advice is much more useful to you than general critiques of your work. This also has the happy effect of focussing their mind on what you want.

You want to get useful feedback in your meetings on how your performance contrasts with your goal (in this example, management), and also keep in the back of your manager's mind your goal, which is useful come promotion time.

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