I am a freelance writer. I am a contributor for six publications. My work has been published on platforms with audiences of hundreds of thousands of readers. However, in a brutal one-on-one with a former manager, I was told that I was not a good writer. The feedback wouldn’t have been as bad if my job title had not been ‘Technical Writer’. I was eventually fired.
Negative feedback can be difficult to receive. It can be even worse if it results in a missed promotion or loss of a job. Instead of beating myself up, I used the conversation with my boss as a time to reassess my personal and career goals. Ultimately, it resulted in the realization that I am not a good technical writer. I am a great creative writer. I am a storyteller. I’ve since been mentored by writers and editors that have helped me define my style of writing. While my boss’ feedback was not wrong, it was incomplete. Had I taken that feedback at face value, I might not have discovered a new career path.
Whether you want to improve your performance in your current role or explore new career opportunities, take these three actions after your next one-on-one:
Get a Second Opinion
According an article on Fast Company feedback from others is instrumental in helping craft your overall career assessment. Remember, your manager’s feedback is based off of his/her personal interactions with you and observations of you. While any insight provided is helpful, the perspective of one person is not well rounded. To truly access your skills, you need balanced feedback. Ask your colleagues. Your colleagues can provide valuable insight as you work to identify your strengths and weaknesses. In addition to feedback on the technical skills required to do your job, also seek feedback on soft skills. Do you communicate well? Are you open to new ideas? What needed skill do you bring to the team?
Think about others that you have worked with in different capacities. You might reach out to a member of a project team or someone in a different department you worked with previously. For me, I reach out to colleagues in a similar role in a different part of the country. In their role in that part of the country, they served a different function of the business. Some of these colleagues, I connected with remotely while others were in person. I also solicited feedback from people that I worked with in my volunteer efforts, special projects and even the planning committee for my family reunion.
Use feedback to identify common themes. You may discover that you do something really well that could lead to a new role or career path.
Solicit feedback from others that you’ve worked with.
Find A New Mentor
Based on the feedback that you receive outside of your boss, find a new mentor. According to Ted.com, you should have five types of mentors. Over the course of my career, my mentors have always been people in senior roles both in my field and in the organizations I worked for. This type of mentor is The Master of the Craft. A person that has years of experience in an industry and can provide advice and guidance.
A common theme of the feedback that I received was that I am creative. I decided to seek mentorship from someone in a creative field, a celebrity ghostwriter. According to the article, this type of mentor is called The Champion of Your Cause. This person is an advocate for you and a connector to others in the industry. Through this mentorship, I was able to explore new ideas and opportunities as a freelance writer. I shared the feedback that I’d received from my boss and colleagues as well as my personal assessment. The goal was to begin to think about roles and career paths that fed my passion, skills and talents. I learned about copywriting roles in corporate settings as well as freelance writing careers. My mentor also introduced me to other editors and pitched my writing submissions to publications.
Create And Take Action on a Career Plan
To effectively manage your career, you need a clear plan. It’s OK if that plan changes over time. However, use your plan to guide you toward your next job or to improve in your current role. Create SMART goals. Work with your mentor to help identify resources needed to accomplish your goals. If your goals relate to improving in your current role, share your career plan and goals with your manager. This will create a partnership with your manager to help you succeed. It also shows your willingness to accept and act on feedback. If your goal is to transition into a new career or company, focus on strengthening your transferable skills.
Don’t allow negative feedback from your boss stall your career growth. Instead, use the feedback as an opportunity to reassess your skills, interests and career goals. After all, you’re reading an article from the girl that fired for not being a good writer.