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How to get positive feedback from a boss who doesn't give it

Thrive on recognition and getting none? Manage up to get the appreciation you deserve.

How to get positive feedback from a boss who doesn't give it

If you’ve been working hard, raise your hand! And what if you’ve been working hard and barely getting any recognition? Keep those hands raised. Though you’re not able to see it, you’re certainly not alone.

In fact, quite the opposite; you’ve got a lot of company.

In a recent Monster poll, 45% of respondents globally said they never feel appreciated at their jobs, and another 44% only occasionally.

Meanwhile, a 2013 State of the American Workplace report issued by Gallup indicated recognition is an important psychological need. Simply stated, you need to know you’re going to gain something for working in alignment with your employer’s brand.

Some people thrive in an environment where positive feedback is given sparingly. But if you’re not one of them and are working for an employer or boss who doesn’t prize reinforcement, you may need to be more strategic to draw out thepraise you need to keep you going.

Use these tips to get recognized:

1. Meet with your boss regularly to outline your accomplishments

You probably meet with your boss for a year-end performance review and goal-setting meeting, and maybe even a mid-year review, but why not ask for additional meetings such as a quarterly or even a monthly check in?

Prepare for this meeting by referencing emails and conversations with colleagues who have praised your work.

2. Mention how you’d like to be managed

Your boss may simply be in a routine of under-appreciating his or her employees. Make it easy for him or her to rise to the occasion: Specifically state that you thrive on positive reinforcement!

Go ahead and ask for the free motivation you need in a joking way. You can say something like, “Hey, I organized a monthly get together to boost team building and we also cleaned up our local park. Not too shabby! If you appreciated my efforts, I’d love to hear it! Even a ‘way to go ‘ or ‘nice job’ would be music to my ears. Seriously.”

3. Set an example of how you would like to be treated

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Yes, go ahead and be the change by managing up. If your boss does an exemplary job leading a project, congratulate him or her. The same applies to your direct reports and peers. Provide positive reinforcement when appropriate without overdoing it—be genuine and authentic with your appreciation.

Set an example which can hopefully permeate within your workplace.

4. Keep a kudos file

This is exactly what you think it is: Create a folder in Outlook to store complimentary emails you get from your boss, peers and customers. Even if you may not get a lot of them, it’s quality, not quantity that matters.

Also, feel free to write notes to yourself to indicate a specific date, project and conversations with colleagues praising your work ethic, ability, leadership skills and more.

This file should be your go-to on those days when your confidence flags. It will also become valuable to you as you meet with your boss during reviews and will also be a ready reference if you decide to…

5. Look for a new job

If you thrive on positive reinforcement and the corporate culture and/or your boss is simply not on board, it may be time to look elsewhere.

According to a SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey from 2012, companies with strategic retention demonstrated a turnover rate of nearly 25% less than at companies without structured recognition programs. Essentially, turnover due to lack of recognition isn’t uncommon.

The key as you search for a new job is to ask critical questions about reinforcement to determine if each prospective employerembodies the positive work environment you’re seeking. And talk to potential coworkers about what kind of feedback they really receive, to make sure you'll get true praise and not justlip service.

Not getting the feedback you need? Find your next job on Monster.

Monster’s career expert Vicki Salemi has more than 15 years of experience in corporate recruiting and HR and is author of Big Career in the Big City. Follow her on Twitter:@vickisalemi


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