We all know that feedback is crucial to the success of a working partnership. It is important to know when you are doing a good job and meeting the expectations of your superiors. On the flip side, it is also vital to know where you might be falling short. Without both constructive and positive feedback, it is very difficult to improve your work and advance your career.
You likely expect feedback from the executive you support, but are you returning the favor? Engaging in two-way feedback with your executive is necessary to build and grow a thriving partnership.
Leverage Positive Reinforcement
Feedback can and should point out both strengths and weaknesses. Positive feedback is important, even to your executive. If your executive is doing a great job providing you with relevant information about a project, getting you approval before a deadline, or communicating her or his needs clearly, make sure to remark on her or his efforts! It is appropriate to let your executive know when the way she or he is working with you is helping you to perform your job better. Knowing that specific actions and processes are appreciated will help to reinforce that type of behavior in the future. Also, it’s important to remember that executives are human like everyone else! Who doesn’t like to be appreciated and thanked when they’ve done something well? Executives deserve positive feedback too!
There are bound to be times when your executive communicates ineffectively or doesn’t follow the appropriate processes. Perhaps your executive leaves out details in a request that causes you hours of extra work or forgets to send approvals in time, causing you added stress and anxiety. In situations such as these, do you ever discuss the problem with your executive? To ensure the best possible relationship between the two of you, you should feel free to offer constructive criticism.
When your expectations haven’t been met, make sure to set aside some time to talk with your executive about how both of you can improve communication and work together more effectively in the future. It is important for your executive to understand that by helping you do your job more efficiently, she or he directly benefits.
When giving constructive feedback, remember that communication is a two-way street and likely no one is to blame for things not going as well as planned. Perhaps your executive could have provided more thorough information, but you also could have asked better questions. Tell you executive what you need from her or him to be more effective, but take ownership in how you can improve the situation as well.
In good EA-Executive relationships, executives tend to lean on their EAs and trust them with a lot of sensitive information. Sometimes this can lead to the line between work life and personal life being blurred. If your executive is sending you urgent requests after work hours on a recurring basis, make sure to set boundaries. Perhaps you would prefer to have the hours of 6 – 8pm completely off limits so that you can have dinner with your family. Give that feedback to your executive. Openly communicating is the only way to make sure you and your executive are on the same page.
If you make two-way feedback a regular occurrence between you and your executive, it will help the two of you build respect and trust. If you consistently tell your executive what you need to be successful, she or he will likely do the same for you! You will also find that as you engage in the practice more regularly, it will become easier and more expected.
All healthy relationships require two-way communication. The relationship between you and your executive is no different. Don’t be afraid to ask for and provide feedback. In the long run, it will help you both be more successful in your respective roles.