Rachel, my boss won’t give me guidance
The writer, a junior planner, says her supervisor changes her work
September 7, 2012
How can I get my boss to give me constructive feedback? I'm a junior planner with limited experience, and I'm very much in need of guidance. While I like my boss — she's a very nice person — I am not getting a good sense from her of what I need to do to improve. She handles changes to my work herself instead of bringing me in on it. I asked her about this once and she said she's happy with my work, but not two days later she was changing it again. How can I get better if I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong? — Sign me Media Maven Jr.
Welcome to the real world.
There is this great notion out there about the ideal mentor-boss who trains and inspires young people in the formative years of their careers.
For sure, there are such mentors out there, but they are fewer than TV and the movies would have us believe.
Many managers find it easier to fix things themselves rather than spend the time to walk their young charges through every change they make. As much as anything, it's about time. As it is, they are already pressed for time, under pressure to meet a slew of deadlines, and getting the work out the door will always come first.
I would take some comfort in your boss's statement that she is happy with your work.
But I would also be prepared to accept the fact that she's not going to give you any more time than she is already.
It's up to you to make up the difference, so to speak—to assume responsibility for your own on-the-job training.
First, I would watch very closely what changes she does make in your work. You are bound to see a pattern in those changes, and you need to take instruction from those changes.
Make a list of the most common changes and use it as a check list to go over before you turn something in.
Then follow up. See whether that reduces the number of changes going forward.
I would also accept the fact that no matter what you do she—any boss, really—is going to make some changes.
But I would also reach out beyond your boss to others you work with for mentoring. There's always one person or a few people in any agency who delight in bringing young people along.
They may not come to you. You have to find them and win them over to your cause.
In the end, you are the one who is most responsible for your professional growth. The sooner you accept that responsibility, the faster you will grow in your career, and the more fun you will have.
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