14

I've been working for a company for 8 months and I have asked for a feedback session from my boss. I'm interested generally to know what he thinks of my work, but what specific areas should I ask about that might be useful for me to know?

I am a web developer.

  • It is also a two way street - How does your manager know what you require and need? – Ed Heal Jul 24 '15 at 14:52
14

In general, the question I always want answered is "what do I need to improve upon, or start doing, in order to achieve my goal at this company?" However, that requires you to ask yourself "what is my goal at this company?"

It could be straightforward - if you're a lower-level developer, and the company has higher levels you can reach, then your first goal might be to reach the next level, and you can ask what you'd need to do to accomplish that. Or it could require you (or your boss) to think outside the box - if you're the only web developer for a small company, then possibly there's no next level to reach, and you could ask how you might be able to use your skills to further assist the company.

A caveat, though - don't worry about the next goal unless you're doing quite well with your current tasks. One near-certainty about being promoted or taking on additional duties is that you're handling your current duties well. So you likely want to ask "how am I doing?" first, to make sure you and your boss are on the same page about your current standing, and if they bring up anything to work on, to assure them you will focus on any areas needing improvement.

  • It's always bothered me that if you're in the wrong role, you have to excel at your current role before being considered for a different position. – corsiKa Jul 24 '15 at 20:14
  • 2
    @corsiKa - actually, if that's the case, you'll want to have a different conversation, one where you go to your boss and you say "I think we've both noticed some issues recently, and I'm unsure if this position's going to work out." You can follow that in several ways - leaving the company ("I'll continue to do my best until I find a new position"), changing roles within the company ("do you think it makes sense to move me into the X role? My skills would make it seem like a good match"), or even taking a demotion ("I think we would both be happier if I moved back to my old X role"). – Adam V Jul 24 '15 at 20:20
  • 1
    @corsiKa - keep in mind, if you're doing badly, many bosses will be relieved to know that you recognize it too, and that they don't have to have an awkward conversation about it. They can start a new hiring process to replace you without having to hide it from you, and if you're leaving, you can start your own job search without hiding it either. – Adam V Jul 24 '15 at 20:22
4

This depends on many factors -- your role, team size, how collaborative the team is, company culture, line of business, and more. Here are some areas to think about (these are not the wording you should use in asking the questions):

  • How's the quality and timeliness of my work? Am I hitting the right balance of "get it done" and "do it well"/paying down technical debt? Am I learning our technology at the rate you expected?

  • How are my interactions with teammates? Is there anything I should be doing more of or less of? (Think about meetings and talking too much or not enough, about collaboration on bugs, and whatever else is relevant in your role.)

  • Any process stuff I'm not doing the way you want?

  • What should I be doing, or doing more of, to succeed in this role?

Some of this is really situation-dependent, though. I recently had a conversation like this, as the only remote member of my team, where I made a point of asking about my participation in our meetings (where I'm the only one on the phone and we can't see each other). It would be easy to talk too much or too little, to miss things going on in the room, to accidentally be unclear or talk over people because of the lack of visual signal, and so on. As the remote employee I think abut those things, but I wouldn't expect my manager to (unless there were a glaring problem, and you want to catch it earlier than that). So think about the things that might cause you, in your role, to have unusual effects on other people, ones they won't be thinking about up-front, and ask about those.

  • 2
    +1 for "...or doing more of...". I think asking, "What am I already doing well?" is just as important as asking what needs to be improved. Of the three answers currently here, yours is the only one that hits that point. – skrrgwasme Jul 24 '15 at 15:40
  • That last bullet point is critical. Assuming your manager is paying attention, of course. – keshlam Jul 24 '15 at 19:41
1

Break it down to code, design, working with peers, working with customers (if you do), and working with the boss. Ask "Where can I improve?"

1

I think if your employer is unhappy with anything, they will tell you or signal you during normal work interactions. It's not hard to know if you are performing well or not, either at work or in a relationship. If you are fishing for compliments, don't waste your time.

Here is what I want in a periodic review.

1) What can I do to carve out some time, on the job, to explore areas of interest to me that I in my own judgement think might benefit the company.

2) Can we set some learning goals that will improve my mastery of the skills that the company needs me to perform well.

3) How would we define my work and performance in terms of the purpose of the work I do in these key areas: Customer experience, advancement of the organization, value to my fellow employees.

A discussion that outlines these important factors that are shown to directly link to your job satisfaction and the quality of your contribution to your company is far more important than a blow by blow evaluation of some past actions. Don't focus on past actions in discussion with your manager. Focus on the future. In your daily work, do your best and whatever it takes to deliver for your customers, company and coworkers and you'll never have to worry about the past.

  • If they're unhappy, you'll probably know. But if there's something that's just niggling at them a little, something that they're not ready to bring up on their own but it's a thing that's kind of annoying or unhelpful or some such, then asking for the conversation invites them to share it. When I was a manager I sometimes observed things that were borderline like this, and I feared coming across as too much of a nit-picker if I brought them up out of the blue. (Also, to be clear, I never penalized somebody for something like that without bringing it up first & allowing time to fix.) – Monica Cellio Jul 24 '15 at 17:40
  • If they're completely incompetent, you may not know the company is unhappy until your year-end review has compared you directly against every one else. That's apparently part of how I once got a raise in December and a slap in the face in January. – keshlam Jul 24 '15 at 19:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.