If you could run a career quality tool to analyze your progress, would it say you’re moving in the right direction? What score would you get?

Here’s the catch: how you think you’re doing and what your teammates think how you’re doing are not the same thing.

Want to find out for sure whether you’re moving up the Engineering Ladder anytime soon or not? The only way is by asking for instructive feedback.

Feedback is a thermometer for job satisfaction, and consequently, a promotion.

Want to know how long you’re going to stay happy and productive at your current job? Calculate how often you receive instructive feedback:

In my study of over 20,000 people across industries and organizations with Tony Schwartz, we found that higher levels of feedback are associated with 89% greater thriving at work, 63% more engagement, and 79% higher job satisfaction. People who receive more feedback are also 1.2 times more likely to stay with the organization – Nine Tips for Giving Better Feedback at Work

You want to gather data to shed light on your performance: are you doing enough “promotable” work? Are the expectations for your role being met? Do you and your manager agree on what those expectations are? Is your team’s work aligned with the company’s goals?

Feedback is not advice: make sure you know exactly what you’re asking for

Most questions we ask our managers are transactional: we want something from them. But what if you asked questions that helped you connect with them while standing out from the crowd?

The following questions are based on the book “Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone” by Mark Goulston. They are perfect for when you want to understand the big picture of the business and your place in it.

Use these guided prompts to stand out. When doing 1:1s about your career goals and performance, ask:

  • I’d like you to imagine it’s a year from now, and you and your bosses are reviewing a Developer you’ve hired this year — and when it comes to this position, they say, ‘Get us more developers like that one. That person was one of the best hires we’ve had in a long time.’ Can you tell me what this Developer did to get such a rave review?
  • If you could change one thing about the direction of the company, what would it be?
  • If there is one thing I can do to help you move more quickly towards your goals here in the company, what would it be?
  • What’s the one thing you’re the proudest of accomplishing?
  • To make sure I’m on the right track — what are the three things you’d like me to always do, and three things you’d like me to never do.
  • I’ve heard from many managers that, on a development team, there are always more things to worry about, more things to fix than time and energy available. Do you feel like we’re on the right track?

You’ll both leave this meeting with a sense of direction. Now you know what you haven’t been paying attention to. And how you can fix it. You’ll know exactly the things you’re doing well, and how you can increase your positive impact on the team.

Ask these questions, and listen closely. You will leave the meeting with a 100% chance of impressing your manager. And you’ll be ready to impress your team next.

Instead of just saying “hey, can I be a Senior developer now?”, asking for instructive feedback is the first step to getting there.

By asking these questions, one of our Get to Senior students completely changed her idea about what she needed to do to get to Senior level. Here’s how the course helped her:

“I’ve spoken with my manager about what I could do better and what could be my gaps and learned what they expect from me. Turns out I need experience leading projects and there will be plenty of opportunities to do that in the near future. Now I know what to focus on and it is not what I thought it would be. I’m happy with the outcome.” – Caroline Salib​, Software Developer @ Shopify

Now, instead of asking for random advice from random people, ask for feedback directly from the person who has lots of context about your knowledge gaps and how you can be promoted. And you can start identifying golden problems you can solve and projects you can lead to expanding the impact of your work.

Better than having no idea where to start.

Better than constantly feeling overwhelmed.

Better than trying to learn everything other people say a Senior Ruby Developer should know 🤷

Now, book a 1:1 with your manager and use these questions above as a script 📅

Opportunities are not given. They are created. By asking for feedback, you’ll have the confidence to take the next step that is right for YOU.

You got this! 💪

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