Believe it or not, I’ve been passed over for a promotion several times and it does not feel good.
But for me, it’s always a sign that there must be something that I can do better and I would actively seek that feedback. What could I have done differently? What could I be doing more of? What could I be doing better?
To understand where there are opportunities for me to improve my career and improve myself, I would ask that feedback and more often than not, I would get, “Well, you just need more time.”
I need more time, more time for what? Could you help me? Could you elaborate a little?
That statement is so frustrating to anyone who is asking for feedback, because what are you supposed to do with that? So are they telling me that I just need to sit around for an extended period, and then I’ll be ready?
What does that mean?
It’s so frustrating. The last time I got that feedback, it turned me off so much that I left the company. I felt demoralized. I wasn’t having fun anymore. And that lack of feedback just kind of pushed me over the edge and I left.
Fast forward into my career…
I am interviewing someone and I don’t give them the job. They come to me and ask me for feedback. It’s something that I believed in and I wanted to support them. I wanted to see them stay at the company. I wanted to see them develop their career and become the amazing person I knew they could be.
When they asked me for feedback, I almost said, “You just need more time”, but I didn’t!
Why? Because that’s not feedback. It almost came out of my mouth and I stopped. I took a moment and I had to think hard about what I meant. I had to dig deep and think about what I mean when I say you need more time?
How can I articulate it in a way that that person can take action?
Because that’s all you want with feedback. You want constructive criticism so you can use it to get better.
I came up with a few things that I was able to share with this person, and I think they left my office feeling more energized. They stuck around the company. That’s important too, to the hiring manager, but also the interviewer.
I want hiring managers to not let people out the door by not giving them good feedback when they don’t get an internal promotion. And I also want for individuals to not leave feeling what I felt because it’s awful.
So here are what I meant when I thought to myself, oh, they need more time.
With constructive feedback, you’re going to feel better.
They need stronger relationships within the company.
They need more time to develop those relationships, to have the strong relationships that will help them to get things done that will help them to move the needle when they get up to the next role.
I also needed more proof of their ability to manage people through difficult times.
They hadn’t been in the role that long, just about a year. And that year, was a pretty good year for the company. So I needed to see that they were able to actually handle a crisis and there just hadn’t been the opportunity for that.
So, can they find some places that are difficult and manage through them? Can they showcase to me how they are able to manage folks through a crisis?
I also hadn’t seen them inspire people through tough times.
This is important for a leadership role. Because I was able to articulate that and it allows them to search for opportunities to do that.
They need more exposure to the key stakeholders in the groups that they would be working directly with.
If the role requires working with a different team, this person needed more exposure to those groups. By telling them that, they were able to go and start actively looking for that exposure.
Lastly, I needed to see more consistency from them.
I needed to see more consistently that they could execute and drive change. Consistency matters and it can only be proved over time.
So these are the reasons why I thought this person needed more time, and this is what I shared with them. In sharing it with them, they were able to go and work on those things. And they also felt better.
I don’t want to see anyone leave a company because they didn’t get good feedback. When I get feedback that I can’t take action on, like “You need more time,” it feels flippant. It feels like you don’t care about me. If you don’t give me something constructive, I can feel like, maybe this isn’t the place for me, right?
I’d like the company to be invested in my career the way that I’m invested in the company.
Consistency matters and consistency can only be proved over time.
If you’re interviewing or, you know anyone who is interviewing, whether you are on the interviewee or the interviewer side, take some time, think about what it might mean.
If you’re being interviewed and you get declined and you look for that feedback and they say you need more time, ask them to elaborate on it.
Use some of the things that I just shared to give them some leading questions. What do you mean by that?
❔ Do I need stronger relationships?
❔ Do I need to prove something more consistently?
❔ What should I be doing over the next amount of time that I have here at the company?
Ask and dig in, because, with that constructive feedback, you’re going to feel better. And you’re going to know what you need to do to advance your career. You’re going to know what you need to do to get better.
If this article resonated with you and you want to gain ground in your career, Get Ahead Without Staying Late can be your roadmap so you can stop second-guessing and start living up to your full potential.
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