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There were recent evaluations in my company, and from what I got, the manager gave only 2 opinions of the workers in our department, which could be shortened to:

"I have no objections to his/her work" and "I am pleased with his/her work".

Judging by the following raises and benefits, it would amount first option to "performed exactly as expected" and second to "performed above expectations".

I am the most junior (both work-time and age) employee in my department, yet it seems I am the only one to receive the "above expectations" opinion. There wasn't a single issue brought up with my work, which I find hard to believe, given my inexperience both at the position and in general work-environment.

I asked the manager directly if there was REALLY nothing that could be improved about the way I'm working/the product I'm delivering, to which I got a basically "no" answer.

However, I still feel like there's bound to be something to improve on (again, I am nowhere near the senior colleagues, and I can clearly see the differences) and while I understand that there may be lesser expectations of me given my lack of experience, I still feel I should at least get pointers at to what I can improve to grow past "junior" position.

Should I keep asking for that kind of feedback after receiving a straight "no" answer or just let it be and assume there's really nothing wrong?

EDIT:

To clarify some things:

Those "reviews" are done monthly, and we see the results of them every 3 months (raises, benefits, etc.) My boss is also the most senior developer and reports his opinions about us to the main boss.

The questions I asked were "Can you see an area where I could improve? Can you think of a situation where I could performed better?" - those are the questions I received the "no" answer for.

When asked about his opinion (and what he passed to the the main boss, who seemed very happy) he said that I performed better than he was expecting. X was good, Y was strong etc.

That's where my slight disbelief comes from.

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    You are confusing company-run evaluations with a more direct performance review or general feedback. They can be the same but often aren't. Have you asked your manager about scheduling a review outside their formal evaluation process?
    – Lilienthal
    Mar 20, 2017 at 8:21
  • @JoeStrazzere Makes another excellent point. My boss meets with us on a bi-weekly basis individually, this is the time to discuss. If you are not having regularly scheduled meetings with your boss, maybe you can suggest it.
    – Neo
    Mar 20, 2017 at 11:08
  • I added an edit to clarify some things.
    – user64980
    Mar 20, 2017 at 16:32

5 Answers 5

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There were recent evaluations in my company, and from what I got, the manager gave only 2 opinions of the workers in our department, which could be shortened to:

"I have no objections to his/her work" and "I am pleased with his/her work".

If these are really the only concrete parts of the feedback, then it is a poor process (and perhaps a poor manager).

People need and deserve specific, honest feedback about what they are doing well, and what needs improvement. That's the only way to improve.

Annual performance reviews are a poor mechanism for providing feedback. It tends to be too intertwined with pay raises and promotions. For that reason, when I handled annual performance reviews with my team, I gave them an official (on paper) review and in informal talk about the past year. And annual performance reviews tend to be far too removed in time from when the events occurred that could have benefited from more immediate feedback.

If you aren't already getting it, you should ask for a weekly one-on-one meeting. In those meetings you should get specific, actionable feedback on all aspects of your work - the good and the not so good. If you aren't getting that feedback, ask for it.

Just telling you in effect "Overall you are doing well. I'm not going to tell you what you did well and I'm not going to tell you what could stand improvement." isn't good for the company and isn't good for you. You deserve better.

The questions I asked were "Can you see an area where I could improve? Can you think of a situation where I could performed better?" - those are the questions I received the "no" answer for.

Your boss isn't a very good manager. Sad.

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You are on the right track in thinking you are not being compared to the Senior employees. You shouldn't be. Odds are, they are getting paid a fair bit more than you are and are expected to perform in tune with that.

That said, if development and growth is what you want - ask your manager about that rather than asking for negative feedback specifically. Your company may have set productivity/time benchmarks you have to hit to grow, and you may be hitting them. At the same time, 'time' may be your limiting factor as a good number of companies will only offer promotions every X years.

Still, don't fret too much about it. Juniors have their role to play too. And apparently you are performing it well.

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Try and work out what your value/purpose is to your manager. You could even ask him. Are you a junior x and there are senior x's on the team or is your position a uniquely junior position? He may be looking to grow the team, replace someone who will leave for whatever reason or something else.

Generally your manager will have things he needs to deliver to his manager. To deliver those, he needs a team. You might be a part of that delivery or he may have hired you for the longer term in the context of staff turnaround.

I get the impression that you think he's holding back negative criticism because you're a junior. In reality, he would have just set some targets for some things for to work on and get trained in and you passed with flying colours. Now of course, this doesn't prevent you from perceiving that doing your job in that company in the longer term will require learning/knowing/demonstrating x but that's something else.

You're doing really well. As Weckar E. said, don't sweat it.

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For this specific evaluation, you should let it rest. You've received a clear signal that as far as your official evaluation is concerned, you're performing up to or even above the standards that are set for you.

This doesn't mean that there's no way to get some feedback on your performance. What I would do is schedule a meeting with your boss, making it clear in advance that you'd like to do an informal review of your performance just to further your personal development as an employee. Lay out that you're looking for feedback on the things you're doing well, the things you aren't doing well, the things you should be doing in addition to what you're doing and things you should be mindful of. This gives your boss a clear view of what you're looking for and shows that this type of feedback shouldn't take them a lot of time to prepare.

When this meeting takes place, don't try to 'defend yourself' on any of the points you receive, just write everything straight down. This feedback is someone else's perception of you and your work. If their perception isn't consistent with what you feel the reality of the situation is, this means that you have to work on changing their perception. You should of course be asking questions to get clarity and certainty on the feedback to make sure you're not misinterpreting something. For example, if you receive the feedback that "you could be more proactive" then you can ask "can you give me an example of a situation where I should have been more proactive?". Once they're done providing feedback, thank them for taking the time to provide this feedback and start evaluating the points for yourself.

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I think you're correct and assuming the evaluation is relative to your position. You're going to get some additional compensation, so you should feel good about the positive, although limited, feedback.

The next step is to have a conversation with your boss about your future in the company in how they fit your ambitions. There may be a fixed time path to senior developer which will take being with the company for 5 years no matter what. Not sure what you can do about that.

Frame your request for feedback in a more specific context. What do I have to do to get promoted to senior developer? My weakest area is in estimation, how do I get better? What's more important, building things faster or having fewer bugs?

You may find your boss doesn't have the time, knowledge or expertise to help. Who knows, your evaluation could be solely based on the lack of anyone complaining about you or the fact you don't bother the boss. Consider getting help from a senior dev to be a mentor.

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