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Waiting for feedback?

Over the last 2 or 3 months, I’ve written about the importance of leaders and managers giving feedback and the ongoing need to reinvent management as we know it.

So, it’s time to turn the tables and ask all employees to look in the mirror: Am I waiting for feedback? Why am I waiting for someone else to approve my work, to make a suggestion for improvement, or to give permission for a next step?

While no one wants to step over boundaries, the boundary line is more elastic than most of us think it is. And, I would argue that most bosses don’t want to spend all of their time supervising, let alone micromanaging. What many of them want is for people to be self-motivated and self-starting – to be self-employed at work:

Here are some of the unwritten attributes that define the self-employed at work phenomenon, which I’ve written about before from the boss’ perspective:

  • Be creative and inventive – see your work as owned by yourself, not by your employer or supervisor.
  • Be self-initiating and self-evaluating – identify problems and issues and evaluate what is working and what isn’t, suggest and initiate potential solutions. Don’t wait for others to do it for you.
  • Take responsibility – see yourself as an actor that participates in creating the internal and external work environment, you are as responsible for what happens in the organization as the next person, including your supervisor.
  • Be professional – master and author your work role and career. Don’t be an apprentice forever, continually imitate others, or only mimic the company line.
  • See the system as a whole – look beyond your own role and part to see the whole, your relationship to the whole, and how the parts work together.

In the end, each of us has to value and find meaning in what we do each day. So, let’s stop waiting for the person in the next cubicle, across the hall, or in the corner office to provide feedback, give approval, or check the “completed” box. It’s up to each of us to try out new ideas, move existing balls down the field, and be responsible for just getting it done. And, yes, we are capable of doing it – without waiting for feedback.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ryan Bond #

    Great post, Kathleen. I second your call for personal and professional responsibility as it pertains to development, initiative, and improvement. It is interesting to think about the effect of organizational culture on this initiative, self-employed type of behavior.

    June 30, 2010
    • friesengroup #

      Organizational culture will either support this behavior or squash it. My argument is that we often don’t explore the boundaries of the culture or have the courage to help define the boundaries from wherever we sit or stand in the organization. Can we get beyond the assumption that there is a system manager, someone who sets the rules and decides the patterns and courses of action and interaction? Or beyond the other assumption that if there isn’t someone controlling things then the system manager is helpless and the system is acting wildly? Of course, neither extreme (control or helplessness) has to be true, but the alternative requires that everyone in the organizaiton be present for what is happening now in order to effectively move the ball down the field (take action) in a dynamic situation such as organizational life!

      June 30, 2010

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