My boss just raked me over the coals for a project I just turned in, but gave me very little feedback on how to fix it. How do I repair both the project and the relationship moving forward?
If you were raked over the coals, you first need to do a detailed post-mortem and determine what you did wrong. Some bosses aren’t great with feedback and I have found those are also the types who get more infuriated if it wasn’t obvious to you what you did wrong. Obviously, if after detailed introspection you know what you did wrong, fix it quickly and perfectly. Then go to your boss, apologize for your shoddy work, and reassure them that it won’t happen again. It will take you several rounds of producing great work to get back into your boss’ good graces but recognize that we are all human and everyone makes mistakes.
If you can’t figure out what you did wrong, go to your boss (ideally when she or he is in a good mood) and explain your review of the situation and ask for feedback. Make it clear that you know their time is precious but your intent is to do a great job and you can’t do that without their guidance. Be sure to take detailed notes and don’t leave that meeting until you are 100% clear on what needs to be done to remedy the situation. Then go fix it!
I’m not getting very challenging assignments. They give me what they know I can do well. How can I break out of that mold?
Assuming you are good at the existing assignments and have received positive feedback to that effect, I would simply ask for more challenging assignments. If you don’t ask, you don’t get and I have found being direct is the best way to get what you want. But don’t bite off more than you can chew. You need to nail these challenging assignments or otherwise you will have made your boss realize their worst fears about you – that you weren’t ready.
What’s the best way to position myself for a role in management? I’ve been at the company three years with five years prior experience in the industry? Is it too soon?
The best way to position yourself for a management role is to show your bosses that you can do the job. This can be achieved by taking on roles and responsibilities that are suited for management and acing it. It can also be achieved by being direct and asking your boss for guidance on how to elevate yourself to the next level. Most bosses are open to elevating personnel if it means that they can free themselves up to deal with other things. I don’t think years of experience makes any difference unless it’s clear you’re not ready for management. I’ve promoted people with much less experience than others because they showed me they had the potential to be a manager and do the job well.
About the Author: Dave is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur. Prior to founding several companies in entertainment, investments, and technology, he worked on Wall Street for almost 25 years. He started his career by joining a fledgling investment bank, Jefferies when it had less than 200 employees. Today, Jefferies is a multi-billion dollar diversified public company (NYSE:JEF). It was there that he rose from the entry level position of Analyst to Group Head of Internet and Digital Media and was one of the youngest Managing Directors in firm history. As one of the only managing directors of color in the firm, he successfully broke through the bamboo ceiling by not only working hard but also understanding how to play the corporate game. He has had hundreds of bankers work for him during his career and served as a mentor to many who have gone on to some of the best business schools and companies in America. He is eager to share his knowledge with Asian Americans seeking to realize their full potential and achieve their career goals.