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Episode Transcript

In today’s episode I have some tips on how you can get useful and timely input on the progress you’re making in your engineering job. 

This is information you need to be assured you’re on the right track and meeting expectations. And to make any course corrections or focus adjustments as you go.

There are days when you could use some real-time input from your boss. Some insight or just commentary on how you’re doing. 

You could wait for your performance review to get feedback. But that’s probably months away. And getting feedback only that once or twice a year isn’t gonna cut it.

You need to know – on a more continuous basis – how you’re doing.

So a better idea is to periodically set up a brief and informal meeting with your boss. And pose a few pointed questions to draw out the input you need.

This is one of those types of strategic interactions that helps you stretch into leadership roles. You’ll also learn to embrace feedback, value different perspectives, and adapt more quickly.

Dos and Don’ts for Getting Input on Your Progress

In order for these meetings to be most effective, there are some dos and don’ts on how to go about them. Like,

Often what happens when you ask for feedback is you get one-word answers or a sort of “canned” response. (Especially if your boss is uber busy or distracted.) So what you want to do is choose 2 or 3 probing questions – which we’ll get to next – and get a conversation going. 

This will lead to a more authentic discussion. And give you more meaningful information to go on.

When you have these conversations more frequently – maybe once a month – you get used to having them. They become more routine and less difficult. Plus they turn out to be a handy tool for you to use for the rest of your engineering career.

Best Questions to Ask for Useful Input on Your Job Progress

Now let’s get to the actual questions. General questions might work. But you might need to be more specific or direct to get a thoughtful response. Here are 5 types of questions to get the input you need:

  1. You might just use some simple questions, like

  1. To get a more detailed response, you can ask follow-on questions, like

  1. Or you can make your questions specific to a project or situation, like

  1. Asking questions about improvement for the future are always useful, like

  1. Some bonus questions that might prompt some additional valuable guidance are

It’s not always the question you ask, but the wording you use and how you ask it. For example, the way most of these questions are worded requires more than a one-word answer. 

Many are asked in a way that taps into your boss’s experience or intuition. This really helps to get the kind of response that will be helpful to you. And of course your tone and sincerity make a big difference.

Remember you’re trying to get a conversation going. Sometimes the actual question – or even the answer to that question – doesn’t matter. As long as you’re having that discussion. And getting useful input related to your progress.

You’re ready for more of these strategic interactions. They’re so powerful. 

But if you’re hesitant about the right questions or the right approach, consider booking a strategy session with me. To get you more comfortable with them, we can talk through your strategy and any concerns you have. 

I invite you to initiate an informal chat with your boss to get some timely, authentic and valuable input on your job progress. 

I think you’ll find that, if you take the right approach, your boss will look forward to giving you input as much as you look forward to getting it. After all, it’s helping both of you.

Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast we’ll explore ways to nurture your strategic and creative ideas. Be sure to tune in for Episode 67.