Not too long ago, one of our children called us in an ebullient mood. She’d just opened her pay stub for the week and much to her surprise and delight, she’d received a raise. Not a large one, mind you, but one big enough to make her day–and ours.
“That’s great!” we told her, “Did you have a review? What was it for?”
“No, I don’t really know,” she replied. “It just showed up.”
Not wanting to dampen the mood, we cheered her on for a few minutes more, and then gently suggested she catch a moment with her boss in the near future to ask what had earned her the extra income. “That’s so awkward,” she pushed back. “Shouldn’t he just tell me?”
The answer to that plaint is, “Of course he should!”
But the truth of the matter is, bosses too often keep their opinions to themselves. Sure, they conduct performance reviews of every employee—but only in their heads. Why? Well, some worry that candid feedback takes too much time away from “real work.” Others fear that such conversations will be uncomfortable or “unkind.”
We beg to differ! Candid feedback, we would say, is the kindest thing a manager can do in any situation. If it’s positive, the employee deserves to know. If it’s not, he or should know that too, in order to plan for the future.
That being said, this article is about those situations where candid feedback, or a review, is not forthcoming, as is too often the case, and it proposes three quick questions to help approximate what your boss is probably thinking of you.
1) Am I aligned with the team’s mission and values?
Now, “alignment” may sound like an academic word, but as we point out in our new book, The Real-Life MBA, it’s anything but. Alignment takes the grind out of the game of business. It means everyone, no matter what level they are or position they hold, is on the same page about where the organization is strategically headed, and the behaviors that are required from each person to get it there, such as, say, great customer service, speed to market, or innovation.
Unfortunately, many of us know what an unaligned team or company looks like. Everyone operating with a different agenda. By contrast, in an aligned organization, everyone shares—and demonstrates—a common purpose.
2) Am I contributing to an atmosphere of truth and trust?
All good bosses know that their organizations work more productively when there’s a healthy culture, one where people say what they mean, and do what they say. Sure, sometimes bosses give a free pass to the jerks that don’t, usually because they’re star performers. Ultimately, however, bosses value employees who show integrity by always seeking and speaking the truth, and always acting in ways that enhance transparency and confidence.
Do you meet that standard?
3) Am I delivering results or over-delivering?
Look, there was a time when giving your boss what he or she asked for was enough. Your company would say, “Sell 200 widgets by March 1,” and you did. But competition today is too fierce for such “checkbox” behavior. Instead of selling X product by Y date, you need to think about ways to sell more and different products through new channels, and sooner than anyone could imagine. You need to think about your job in ways that make it bigger, and with your output, make your organization smarter and more successful. That’s over-delivering.
We could write a book on success, and in fact, we just did! The Real-Life MBA is a no-nonsense guide to winning at business, building a wow team, and growing a terrific career. We hope you read it. But for now, we hope these three questions have given you a bit of insight into what your boss really thinks of you.
After all, you should know!
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.