When giving critical feedback, often even the most well-intentioned managers convey little more than their impressions—but you need to hear specific observations to understand your skill deficiencies and take constructive actions to improve. Before your review, assess your own skill-based strengths and weaknesses to give you context for asking questions.
In the session, don’t be bashful about asking for more information: “Could you be more specific? What skills should I work on to address this?” Recognize, however, that a year-end review is rarely the best forum for getting coaching. If you’re confused by what you hear, suggest a follow-up meeting for further discussion.
Also consider that your current boss may not be skilled at giving constructive feedback; you may need to seek out others’ opinions, even if you don’t have a formal reporting relationship.
Adapted from What You’re Really Meant to Do, by Robert Steven Kaplan.