- The Washington Times - Monday, May 19, 2003

Feedback: How much is too much?

Dear Kate & Dale: Thank you for responding to my question about my growing with the company I work for. I have one more question. Shortly after I joined the company, I got pointers from my boss on what he would like to see me accomplish. I want to make sure I do all of them before my next review. Should I approach this situation at any random time, or do you suggest that I wait for my review (in two months)? — Kalena

KATE: Talking about your goals and desires every year or so is not enough. However, you are NOT talking about them at some “random time”; you are asking to have a serious conversation with your boss, showing him what you have accomplished and getting his thoughts.

DALE: It sounds to me, Kalena, as though you are putting too much emphasis on your review. You should know that most managers hate annual reviews, and many have simply stopped doing them. Often, this is NOT laziness or indifference; it’s the triumph of the philosophy of quick and immediate feedback.

KATE: Just as it makes no sense for your manager to wait for a formal annual review to give you feedback, it makes no sense for you to wait to ask him about your performance. In fact, the annual review might be too late to accomplish your goal of ensuring that you’ve done everything your boss wanted.

DALE: As the name suggests, it’s a re-viewing of your efforts. It’s not the trial; it’s the reading of the verdict. Even if you took notes back when your manager set goals for you and even if you did every one of them, he might not see it that way. I know one highly admired executive who, at the end of every meeting, goes around the room and says, “Now what action are you going to take?” It often transpires that his employees have a different impression than he does. And if boss and employee differ at the end of a just-concluded meeting, imagine what can happen in a year. So get that feedback often, Kalena. I know you’re going to ask next: “How often?” Ask your boss.


Dear Kate & Dale: In today’s economy, how long is a job search taking? I’m a marketing executive with a national company, and I’m not happy with the culture. — Sherry

KATE: The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the number of people who have been unemployed for more than six months is now nearly 2 million, accounting for more than 20 percent of the unemployed, which is up from 15 percent a year ago. So clearly there are more long searches this year. For those who are members of The Five O’Clock Club, the average is 10-12 weeks, which is up from eight to 10 weeks a year ago. Those are the statistics; however, they are just statistics — each search is unique.

DALE: Still, the latter numbers might offer you something of a benchmark, Sherry. Those in Kate’s organization — with the benefit of professional coaching, a support group and a system to follow — are taking 10-12 weeks. If you’re on your own, let’s say it would average at least two to three times as long. Do the math, and it’s at least 20 weeks, and could easily be 36 weeks of active searching.

KATE: We’re all hoping the job market improves along with the world situation, and that searches get faster. Right now, many people who are unhappy with their situations are choosing to wait till the market improves to attempt a job search. This seems like good news — after all, they aren’t competing for job openings — but every time an employed person leaves to take a new job, it leaves an opening behind. Thus, the current atmosphere of fear makes the job market less dynamic. By starting now, Sherry, you’ll be putting yourself in a position for something wonderful to happen to you, and you’ll even help improve the job market for everyone.


Kate Wendleton is the founder of The Five O’Clock Club, a national career-counseling network (www.fiveoclockclub.com). Her books include “Targeting the Job You Want” (3rd Edition, Career Press, $13). Dale Dauten is the founder of The Innovators’ Lab. His latest book is “The Laughing Warriors: How to Enjoy Killing the Status Quo.” Please write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or via www.dauten.com for e-mail.

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