How to deal with negative feedback at work

Wahlschein - Kritik

File it away!

by Karen Adamedes

There are a number of disappointments in business that you may need to deal with, and one common one is receiving negative or unexpected feedback about your performance.

Ideally you won’t receive any nasty surprises because you continually monitor and evaluate your performance, are aware of your strengths and weaknesses and able to take remedial action.

However, there are all sorts of circumstances that can lead to negative feedback at work – circumstances out of your control; a new manager who doesn’t understand the context of what you have achieved or you just don’t (for some bizarre reason) perform to your usual standard.

If you do receive negative feedback:

  • acknowledge what has been said
  • thank the person for their comments
  • ask for time – if you need it to think about what they said
  • ask questions and clarify your understanding
  • go into solution mode and take action – this could be anything from resolving an issue to enrolling in a course to develop your skills
  • evaluate what you have learnt
  • mentally file away the experience, and
  • move on!

When you get negative feedback others will watch to see how you react. No tears. Don’t be emotional, and find ways to give yourself some space.

If you are in a meeting with a number of people you may be able to excuse yourself or take the issue off the table and ask for it to be discussed later, in private. For instance, saying, “Can we discuss this in detail after the meeting?” buys you time to think through your reaction to a situation.

Whatever you do, don’t get into a debate about your performance in public.

If you receive critical feedback in a one-on-one meeting with your manager, you don’t need to react or resolve the situation there and then. If you need time, say you want to think about what has been said and make an appointment for further discussion. Be calm, logical and self-confident, whether you feel that way or not.

How you handle negative situations is often an important influence on how others see you and how ’emotionally intelligent’ you are considered to be.

Career Tip To Go:

Receiving feedback, whether positive or negative, is a good opportunity to learn. You’ll know how to go about things next time, and what you could do more or less of. Then again, you may realize that you are working for someone who has no idea about how to help you develop, or that the environment is not right for you. Whether feedback is positive or negative there is always something you can learn.

Whatever the feedback, don’t beat yourself up for not being or not being seen to be perfect. Don’t replay and relive the situation.

Accept it is has happened, learn what you can and move on.

Career Tip To Go:


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How to approach a potential mentor

by Karen Adamedes

By the time you approach a potential mentor you should have identified what you want to learn from them and have decided that the person you are going to approach will be able to help you. (This can be the easy bit!)

Often we don’t progress to the next step of following through because we’re not sure how to ask, don’t want them to think we need help or are nervous about being rejected.

I personally am guilty of all 3 but I have also used all the strategies suggested below and they have worked. (Yes, all Career Tips To Go have been pre-tested!)

There are a number of different strategies you can use, depending on your intended victim (prospective mentor, that is) and how well you know them.

The worst thing that can happen is that they say no. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as my mother would say. As long as you ask professionally there is no reason not to give it a go!

Mentor Target 1 – Someone you know!

If you approach someone you have an established relationship with you can get straight to the issue that you are seeking help with. You don’t even have to use the “m” word (mentor!) 

Here are a couple of approaches:

I’m currently working on improving my presentation skills (insert your skill of choice) and I was wondering if we could catch up so I could ask you a few questions about how you (whatever they do)?


It’s been really helpful when we’ve talked previously, I have a few career options that I’m weighing up and I wonder if you’d have time for a chat/coffee?

These approaches cover why you want some of the valuable time and how they can help. If you ask in this way and do get turned down, usually it will be for a genuine reason, such as time or work pressures. Not because they don’t want to help you.

At the very least you will have represented yourself as a professional who is serious about your career.  If they do say “yes” it could be helpful for just the issue you approach them about or the beginning of a longer term mentoring relationship.

Like I said, you don’t have to formally ask if the person will mentor you. But a follow up thank you call, a second meeting, you start to build a relationship by catching up regularly – and before you know – You’ve got ’em. (As a mentor that is!)

Mentor Target 2 – Your Manager is moving on

This assumes that you manager has skills that you want to learn and you’d like a formal way to keep in touch with them.  (There are some managers you are more than happy to see walk out the door…let those ones go!) Hopefully you have a good one, but they may be moving to a new company or just another position, (I once had a manager resign 6 weeks after I took a job specifically so I could work with them…sigh!) whatever the move it means you lose the day to day learning experience with them.

Who could resist this approach?

I am so pleased you have this opportunity. But I’ll miss the chance to work with you and learn more about your approach to XYZ. Do you think you might be able to continue working with me on this as a mentor?

Formalizing your relationship at this stage makes it legitimate for you to keep in contact even if they’re up to their necks in their new role. They will remember the commitment that they made to you.

Mentor Target 3 – Someone you don’t know (well)

Let’s assume you have some vague association with the person and are not just randomly approaching senior managers trying to land a mentor. (This really wouldn’t meet our pre-requisite of knowing what you want to learn from someone anyway!) 

This association – whether you work in the same organization or business unit, or someone has recommended you to approach them, or have a work issue is common – whatever it is – this is your introduction to why you are getting in touch and will allow you to establish your credibility.

Once you have done this – proceed as you would with someone you know better, explaining why you want to speak to them, what you are trying to learn and how you think they can help.

Career Tip To Go:

People will be flattered when you ask for their help. The type of person that you are likely to want to learn from is very often the type of person that wants to help.

Just ask.


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7 Signs it may be time to move on to a new job

Learn to recognize the signs it's time to move on

Learn to recognize the signs it’s time to move on

by Karen Adamedes

The ability to know when it’s time to move on to a new job is a skill all of its own.

Often we are so focused on doing our job, doing the right thing by our colleagues or customers or just caught up in the day to day that we miss the signs that things are changing and it’s time to move on. It’s a good thing to be focused and doing the right thing by others.

However, to have a sustainable career where you can keep contributing – you also need to look after yourself.

And that can mean knowing when a change of job is going to be forced upon you (redundancy, anyone?), that opportunities are going to be open to you (do they still have executive bathrooms?) or that you have simply spent enough time doing what you are doing and it’s time to go.

Whatever the compelling event for change may be – make sure your radar is on – so that you notice when things are changing and opportunities are coming your way. Look out for the clues that can lead to change:

1. The water cooler gossip gains momentum – you don’t want to be a gossip but significant rumors flying around often have a source of truth. Use your knowledge and experience to work out the stuff that people are making up from what could be true.

2. Money drys up – suddenly having your budget requests turned down is often a good indication that something is going on.

3. Restructures – changes to organizational hierarchies can mean anything from redundancy to promotion. Either way it’s better to know that it might be coming so you can put up your hand for opportunities or at least prepare yourself.

4. Management changes  – changes to your manager or your manager’s manager can often signal that change is coming down the line and is going to impact you. At the very least you’re going to have to learn to work with someone new.

5. Major new customer contracts – often lead to new or project roles. Think about what a significant customer win (or loss!) could mean for your job.

6. Someone makes you an offer – just because it’s unexpected don’t say no (you’re unlikely to be asked twice!).

7. Behaviors change – when people are under pressure behaviors can change (and usually not for the better). Learn to tell the difference between normal business pressures and when managers look like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Or when deadlines or workloads suddenly become unreasonable. These can all be indicators that a business is under an inordinate amount of pressure. This may be a change that is not good for you, or a signal that further change is to come.

Poor cultural norms, such as inadequate time frames, inappropriately raised voices or personal attacks becoming commonplace are all also indicators that all is not well.

You don’t want to spend your life second-guessing what everyone else says or does. But epot the trends and read the signs of change you can be proactive and move on in a way that works for you.

Career Tip To Go:



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11 Tips to avoid being charged with ‘death by PowerPoint’

Do not do this to your audience!

Do not do this to your audience!

by Karen Adamedes

Yep…’Death by PowerPoint’ is a thing.

It’s that thing that happens when you slowly lose all interest in the presentation you are watching, the content and worst of all the presenter.

It often occurs when you are attending a presentation where there are slides that you can’t read, are too busy, are being read from word for word or there are just way too many of them (slides, that is!). This is often accompanied by the speaker saying, “It might be a bit hard for you to read this slide but…”

If you’re in the audience there is probably little you can do other than look for the closest exit, take a nap or suddenly have some emergency on your smart phone that you need to turn your attention to.

But if you are a presenter there is plenty you can do to make the experience worthwhile not only for your audience but for your career and credibility.

Presentations are a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate what you know, what you have achieved and what you are capable of contributing. You want to make sure that all aspects of it are as high quality as they can be – and this includes the supporting media you use.

The use of slides that do not help you tell or sell your message to your audience are a waste of time, for you and for them. Best case your audience doesn’t listen and are bored. And you have lost an opportunity to achieve whatever your objective was for the presentation.

Worst case they think less of you as a result of the presentation, you lose credibility and don’t achieve your business objective.

And you don’t want to be responsible for the, figuratively speaking, murder of your audience’s interest in what you have to say!

If you are going to use slides make sure that they help you tell your story, engage the interest of your audience and enhance your credibility.

Here’s 11 tips to avoid ‘death by PowerPoint’ and help you make a great presentation:

1. Dark backgrounds – they are easier to read on a screen.

2. 5 or less bullet points – punchy, informative and you won’t fall into the trap of reading them word for word.

3. No more that 14 words per slide – great rule to make sure you don’t put too much content on a slide and that your audience can read it.

4. Use graphics – ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ as they say. And as your audience figure out the message of the picture they are getting actively involved in your presentation.

5. High quality graphics – are required to expand to the size you need and to look good from the back of the room.

6. Use a variety of visual aids – show examples of what you are talking about, don’t just rely on the slides.

7. Vary your media every 6 to 8 minutes – which is about the ‘average’ person’s attention span. This will help maintain audience interest.

8. Charts and tables should be easy to read – if they are not and people can’t see what you are talking about – you lose their interest.

9. Use handouts – to provide details of lots of information that your audience needs to know. It will be easier to read and help keep your slides ‘clean’.

10. Talk to the slide don’t just read it – you need to be providing information, commentary or analysis to what is on the slides. Otherwise you could just email the presentation and save all the bother of actually presenting.

11. Rehearse – know what slide is coming up and what you are going to say when it does. It will be a lot less stressful for you and a lot more enjoyable for the audience.

You need to be essential to your presentation…make sure your slides support you!

There is a lot of competition for the attention of your audience, even when they have come to see you – text messages, emails, Facebook the list of things people can be doing whilst they sit in your audience is endless.

Good quality, interesting slides can help make your audience want to listen to you and hear what you have to say…..and that will give your presentation life!

Career Tip to Go:  Keep your audience alive and interested with good quality slides that support your presentation!


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