The Art of Asking Your Boss for Feedback
Neither my current nor former employers, have had formal systems in place for giving regular feedback to nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Sure, I get the occasional pat on the back or constructive criticism, but never an official meeting to evaluate my performance. I'm not sure if other NPs and PAs have had similar experiences, but I expect this is the case. Lack of regular feedback from your boss can potentially put you in a precarious career position. If your employer doesn't have a system in place for performance evaluations, you must take the initiative on your own.
While we all try to do our best in our jobs as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, sometimes our efforts can be misguided. Certain metrics and aspects of patient care may be important to us personally or professionally while our employer may prioritize other facets of the practice. Without checking in regularly, you may quickly find yourself dissatisfied or frustrated with your position as a result of this disconnect. Even worse, you could find your boss giving you the unexpected boot.
Asking for feedback from your boss is a pretty scary prospect. You may be a new grad with little experience, hesitant to ask for an evaluation knowing you have so much to improve upon. You may be confident and experienced in your clinical skills thinking feedback unnecessary. Or, your boss might be intimidating, difficult to reach, or distant causing you to be unsure about the ask. Whatever your reason for reluctance, put it on the back burner and take the risk. Seeking feedback will be worth it. Here's the how and why.
The Importance of Your Ask
The obvious benefit of scheduling a short meeting with your boss to evaluate your performance as a nurse practitioner is that it keeps you and your employer on the same page. Not only does taking this initiative help you improve your performance, it also sets you apart from others in your practice. The ability to accept both positive and negative observations about your skills portrays personal and professional maturity. Employers value employees who go above and beyond in their effort to contribute to the company. Seeking feedback about your performance as an NP or PA makes you stand out...in a good way.
How to Ask for Feedback
If your boss doesn't regularly schedule performance reviews or the culture of your practice is not at all corporate, asking for a brief meeting to discuss your nurse practitioner job performance may seem awkward. Don't fret. Scheduling meetings is the norm in the business world. Send your boss an email saying something along the following lines:
Hi [Your Boss' Name],
Now that I have worked at [Clinic or Hospital Name] for [Number] months, I would like to schedule a time to check in with you in regards to my performance.
Does [Day, Time] or [Day, Time] work for you?
Once you get a date and time for your conversation nailed down, if you really want to impress, send a calendar invite through your email server.
Setting Your Feedback Agenda
Ideally, a few days before your scheduled meeting, you should send out a very brief agenda for your get together. Stick with the basics. Using a numbered list or bullet points in a document, outline any concerns or questions you hope to cover in your meeting. These can be varied from issues very specific to your practice to broader questions that help you get an idea as to how you can improve in your nurse practitioner performance. Here are a few questions you might want to consider asking:
- Do you have any concerns regarding my performance so far in this position?
- In what areas I am succeeding thus far in my practice? In what areas can I use improvement?
- I am working to improve my clinical skills. Here is my plan for doing so. Is there anything you suggest I add/modify about my plan?
- Here are the goals I hope to accomplish over the next three to six months. Would you make any revisions to this list?
End your agenda-setting email with the question 'Do you have anything to add to the proposed agenda for our meeting?'.
Being put on the spot when it comes to your job performance is a very vulnerable position. Depending on the culture of your workplace and your boss' personality, feedback may be delivered in a direct manner. Prepare mentally to be open to feedback. Remember, you asked for a performance evaluation so accept potentially negative comments or concerns gracefully. Don't be defensive. Rather, adopt open and honest back-and-forth in your conversation. Remember, the feedback you receive, both positive and negative, is your cheat sheet for becoming employee of the year...and securing your next raise.
At the end of your meeting, ask your boss if you can reconvene to follow up on the modifications you make to your performance. This may need to happen within a few weeks or a few months depending on the nature of and discussion during your review. Make a note to be in touch to coordinate schedules in the timeframe you agree upon.
After your meeting, it's important to recap your conversation with a written acknowledgement and a 'Thank You' for the sharing of valuable time. In succinct email form, sum up the areas where you plan to change or improve your performance as a nurse practitioner as well as the areas where you will continue to excel. Make sure you personally have a plan in place for accomplishing any goals or deadlines you have set.
Asking for feedback as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant may seem uncomfortable or out of the norm. But, it's an important professional step to take. It will be worth it, I promise!
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Thanks, Bill! I agree - it would be very beneficial to have a common format for the most common dimensions important for nurse practitioners and that this would be highly beneficial in the interview and hiring process.
Erin: This is excellent. If no one has one, midlevelu might consider developing a common format that could elucidate the most common dimensions that are important for nurse practitioners to have in their work along with definitions for same. Such a form could be helpful as a guide to the discussions. The same could be used as a interview hiring guide. I would be happy to help you with this.