My boss had too many comments on my assignment!!!
If you ever worked in banking, you probably know and have experienced the following: You stayed very late to work on an assignment due this morning at 10am, and then for the next 6 hours you have basically nothing to do. At 4pm you got your assignment back with TONS and TONS of comments, and you know it will be another really long night ahead of you.
Have you ever thought about: is this really how it is supposed to be? Or if there is anything you can do to make your life easier? Well you know, probably the first step to making your own life easier is to make other people’s lives easier. And here is how to do both at the same time:
Understand the end objectives
There are many reasons why you have to do certain things that may not quite make sense to you. It’s probably done that way historically, or the client requested it that way, or it’s the only data you can find, or it’s for your manager’s convenience. But a lot of times it will be really helpful to know the following information: why am I doing this, who is this for, and when exactly you need this.
If you know the task is specifically required by a big client, or this is a meeting for your CEO, or this will potentially develop into a new deal target, you might be more willing to be on this assignment. If you are asked to make a list, understanding whether this will be for group-wide internal use, firm-wide internal use, or client-facing use, or senior management use will help you to prioritize and to make more sense of the maybe quite tedious work.
Don’t be afraid of asking questions. It’s always better and more efficient to ask questions at the beginning than toward the end (when you already actually screwed something up). Also, understanding the end objectives will give you more leverage in the case that you want to get creative, meaning if you make certain changes not specified in the agenda, you will be able to put in a way that you want to achieve the end objectives better. Remember: this is how it’s always been done, does not necessarily mean this is the best way of doing it.
Double check your work even if it was done by someone else
What does take ownership mean? Take ownership means you take responsibilities for your own work, and more importantly, you take responsibilities for your junior person’s work, and your colleagues’ work. As long as you are the end-person who will present this to senior management or to a broader audience, it is your reputation that is on the line. If anyone blames you, the reason “oh actually I didn’t do this, it was put together by someone else” will not work. They don’t know the other person, and they don’t care whether that person even exists.
In extreme cases, use 5-min to do proof-reading will probably save your entire career. Honestly, you have nothing to lose by doing a little bit more work.
Stand up for yourself but use your best judgment
It is a leaning process for everyone, and for some people it’s especially long and slow. Making mistakes is okay, but it doesn’t mean you always have to suck it up (well most of the cases you probably need to and that’s another quality you should equip yourself with), In the case that you really think your way is better and your logic makes more sense, you should stand up for yourself.
The important thing here is to be articulate and try your best to avoid a defensive attitude. If you sound like defensive, your argument already lost power because why would you sound defensive in the first place? If you are confident and competent enough, you should not and do not need to be defensive. Does that make sense?
Ask for feedback, not just comments
My understanding of the difference between feedback and comment is: feedback is qualitative while comment is quantitative. Some people will provide both feedback and comments by default, but some others will not. So you may end up in a situation where you get 10 full pages of comments with absolutely no feedback. Without feedback, you will not be able to know how to improve next time.
So if your manager is not already doing so, please ask for more feedback. Comment is usually only about one mistake, but feedback is something you can reference in a much broader sense so you can avoid making tens and hundreds of similar mistakes. And trust me, the more feedback you get, the fewer comments you will receive.
Let’s see if you would like to try one of the above the next time you get a new assignment. Let me know if it works for you!