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What happens when feedback is not a gift?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

I was wondering how would one handle situations where a manager makes up a feedback based of half information (or their perception) or even misinformation from others.

There are also no actions attributed to this feedback.

for eg. Person X have to learn how to manage up or navigate office politics or learn how to work well with other. But how? And who are these others?

When asked an example of why this feedback was given, they don't have any good example of what happened ,who said what and why was the feedback not given in the first place.

I know this is not something I can control, and in their mind of course they are giving actionable feedback.

The other part of it when you are surprised by the feedback even after asking for it in every 1:1 before (in my situation my manager was out for most of the time).

It just feels that why did I even work so hard in the first place and a little demotivated.

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Discussion

(4 comments)
  • 8
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    Staff Eng @ Google, Ex-Meta SWE, Ex-Amazon SDM/SDE
    a year ago

    Is it important to you that you do not improve managing up and working well with others? Has every one of these interactions been flawless so it is impossible that this is legitimate feedback? Do you have a lot of reliable witnesses to all of them that have confirmed this to you?

    It is unfortunate that a concrete example wasn’t provided. Regardless, it is still a gift to have this feedback because this seems like a clear blind spot you have. Others are observing a soft spot, letting you know, and you aren’t wanting to hear it. Do you believe this is being done dishonestly as a personal attack or to sabotage you?

    Late feedback is better than no feedback. Even if there were other opportunities maybe recent events and corroborating details from others made this bubble to the top in terms of priority addressing it.

    Would you have preferred not to be told? are you wanting advice to help “change” your manager’s perception of this in you without changing your behavior?

  • 6
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    Senior ML Engineer [E5] at Meta
    a year ago

    Maybe a gentler way of phrasing what Lee is saying:

    Sometimes people dont have all the context for what our work is. And manytimes the feedback they give might seem, or even truly be, totally off the mark. But the people around us are talented and perceptive, and if they're giving feedback, it's because they perceive something about your work or actions that they feel they could help with. So I would look at pieces of feedback, even if they seem incorrect, as gifts - whether its a matter of fundamentally changing your work, or maybe just how you're selling it or communicating is your call.

    I would say that its a great idea to follow up if you want advice or clarity on how to improve. Sending a message like "Hey X! Thanks for the feedback on Y action. I'm keen on improving in this area, do you have any tips?" shows maturity and that you're taking their feedback seriously.

    Finally, dont internalize work feedback as reflective on your personal worth. Its work feedback!! Its just a source for improving at your job. I know it can feel tough to hear, but do remember that it doesnt mean anything about who you are or your personal value. Use it to grow at work, stay positive, and you'll start to even enjoy getting feedback - which is the fastest way to rise.

    Good luck!

  • 3
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    Sorry to hear that you're demotivated - It's never fun having a blind spot being brought to your attention.

    The other part of it when you are surprised by the feedback even after asking for it in every 1:1 before (in my situation my manager was out for most of the time).

    It's possible that you're not asking for feedback proactively enough. A failure mode I've seen very often is going into manager 1 on 1s with the standard "Do you have any feedback for me?". This is too generic to get a real answer in most cases, so I recommend following the advice from this video on how you can extract feedback more effectively.

    Also, I feel like you may be harboring too much negativity towards your manager. Engineering managers are extremely busy people - They miss stuff all the time. EMs need to rely on signals from others to build a better picture of how individual reports are doing. It's very possible your manager is just the messenger here: They got high-level feedback from your teammates that you can improve in certain ways and are simply passing it along. If they truly had bad intent, they wouldn't have shared the feedback with you. They would have avoided the awkward conversation and waited for this to blow up on you during performance review.

    As long as they didn't tell you that this will drag down your performance review, I would assume good intent here, especially if the delivery seemed neutral to positive. Managing up and building relationships are 2 very common (and usually valid) types of feedback for engineers at your career stage.

    Since you're missing action items, I have a couple suggestions for you 😊

    1. Seriously reflect on your past projects and see if you could have executed anything better
    2. Check out this mega-thread of resources on how to improve at all the skills your feedback covers

    Hope this helps! Don't let this get to you too much - Keep on growing and improving!

  • 3
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    Staff Engineer (former Engineering Manager)
    a year ago

    I would suggest seeking a second opinion if it’s available. Maybe from your skip manager, your manager’s peer managers or someone with enough observation of how you work.

    Maybe your manager identify the correct syndrome but can’t prescribe the right treatment. They might not identify the right syndrome. It’s hard to tell on the Internet from far away. It’s better to have someone who knows you to give you another piece of feedback. That’s the gift you should look for.