Women receive significantly less feedback than men at work — 3 ways to change that

Know Your Value's Mika Brzezinski recently chatted with Joan Kuhl, workplace expert and author of “Dig Your Heels In,” about how women can get the feedback they need to help take their careers to the next level.
Joan Kuhl, author of "Dig Your Heels In."
Joan Kuhl, author of "Dig Your Heels In."U.S. Soccer

Women want and expect regular feedback about their job performance. However, while women are just as likely to ask for feedback as their male colleagues, they’re less likely to receive it.

In fact, women are 20 percent less likely than men to get difficult feedback, which can help them improve their performance, according to a recent survey from McKinsey & Company.

Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski recently chatted with Joan Kuhl, workplace expert and author of “Dig Your Heels In,” about how women can get better and effective feedback in the workplace.

Solicit specific feedback

“I think women are held back by vague feedback,” Kuhl said. “They get a lot of feedback about their communication style or they need more presence in meetings, versus men get really skill-based feedback that helps them with their performance. It’s aligned to the business.”

In turn, women need to solicit that specific kind of feedback that could help them make their next career advancement. For example, if you’re told that you’re doing a great job, you should ask, what specifically am I doing well? Then, ask even more questions to see how these current strengths can set you up for future success. “Ask questions and use specific job roles that are higher than your level,” Kuhl said. An example of this would be, am I ready for the vice president of operations role?

Don’t confuse praise with more money

Women sometimes shortchange themselves by finding satisfaction with praise such as ‘you’re doing a really great job.' When men get feedback, “the feedback they usually get that’s most effective is money,” Brzezinski said. Women too should strive to get that money, raise, or promotion, she encouraged.

After receiving positive feedback, don’t be shy about asking for a financial reward to go along with your accomplishments. Even if you don’t receive the raise this time around, it opens up another conversation about what else you can do to advance and when your manager expects those milestones to be met.

Ask what else is in it for you

Sometimes feedback for women can come in the form of something like, “you’ve showed so much leadership potential that we want to give you 55 additional projects for you to lead on,” Kuhl quipped. If your performance is rewarded with more work, be sure to ask about what outcomes are attached to these new responsibilities. You can ask: How will these new projects help to improve my visibility? What financial rewards will I get if I hit my goals? Is there more equity in taking that on?

The bottom line: “You’ve got to know to ask,” Brzezinski said. “Go in there and get some details.”