We Deserve Better Than “Attagirl”

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Hearing your manager say you’re doing a great job is, of course, lovely. But without examples of your greatness in action, or suggestions for how to be even better, you don’t have the information you need to keep improving. Studies have found that women tend to get feedback that’s vague or tied to their personalities, which doesn’t boost our performance ratings. Meanwhile, men get feedback that’s specific and tied to business outcomes, which sets them up to develop and be promoted.

First, we talk with Harvard Business School professor Robin Ely about the research on women and feedback. Next, we talk with Tuck School of Business professor Ella Bell Smith about how to draw out actionable, useful feedback from our managers, and how to respond when we’re not getting what we need to succeed.

Our HBR reading list:

What Most People Get Wrong About Men and Women,” by Catherine H. Tinsley and Robin J. Ely

The Gender Gap in Feedback and Self-Perception,” by Margarita Mayo

How Gender Bias Corrupts Performance Reviews, and What to Do About It,” by Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio

Research: Vague Feedback Is Holding Women Back,” by Shelley Correll and Caroline Simard

Get the discussion guide for this episode on our website: hbr.org/podcasts/women-at-work

Email us: womenatwork@hbr.org

Our theme music is Matt Hill’s “City In Motion,” provided by Audio Network.

32 episodes available. A new episode about every 16 days averaging 39 mins duration .