With the class of 2017 entering the workforce, many will begin to face questions such as how to excel at the bottom of the career ladder, find the perfect mentor and get on the road to a successful performance review. Stacey Hanke, a consultant on corporate leadership, offered some answers to International Business Times. Above, workers were photographed sitting at their desks at the Jellyfish office space in London, Dec. 19, 2016. Reuters

With summer in full swing, members of the class of 2017 are likely entering — or have recently entered — their first-ever long-term full-time jobs. With that first come many others: finding an office mentor, asking for feedback and, ultimately, asking for a raise and perhaps a promotion.

While a recent PayScale survey indicated that only 37 percent of millennials have asked for a raise, researchers at the software firm SAP SuccessFactors found, America’s largest generation seeks feedback at a higher rate than other (older) employees. But not all feedback is useful, and there is a right way and a wrong way to ask for a raise, according to Stacey Hanke, author of the book “Influence Redefined: Be the Leader You Were Meant To Be, Monday to Monday” and founder of a leadership consulting company. In an interview with International Business Times, Hanke offered her advice for young people navigating those challenges, with an emphasis on constant communication — minus the meaningless question “How did I do?” The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

It’s been about two months since the class of 2017 threw their caps in the air, so many young people are about to start or have recently started their first full-time, long-term jobs. Others who graduated earlier might be finishing fellowships or graduate programs, or ending a period of odd jobs or freelance work to enter the full-time workforce. What are a few things for those new hires to keep in mind as they get a feel for their new employers and work on finding a comfort zone?

It’s a question that, often, leaders that I coach are asking, especially because there are completely different generations [working together], so there are a lot of questions out there. I think we need to get back to basics and ask the right questions when they’re bringing on someone new to their team. And I think this applies no matter which generation you’re partnering with. Ask questions around what you look for in a manager — what works for you, what doesn’t.

Most importantly, how often you want feedback? How often do you want interaction? How do you like your communication? What medium do you prefer? Not that that’s the only medium they use. It’s taking the time to ask the questions: how do you like to work, and how do you like to work together? Because there’s always this constant questioning with both millennials that I work with and older generations that I work with. It’s always, ‘Well, we don’t know how to work together.’ Well, why don’t you just take a step back to the basics of what really works for you, and have a conversation?

A lot of these workers are starting out at the bottom of the ladder, regardless of company or industry. Coming from a background of leadership consulting, what’s your advice as for how to be a leader, while staying within your bounds and remembering that you might have a long way to go before your resume will list a higher-up leadership position? Is there a way to sort of “lead from behind,” as some put it — or rather from below?

I think it’s really to just know the culture, […] and keeping up communication, because honestly that’s the core of my expertise when I work with leaders. It’s really understanding the culture: What type of communication works? Is it a lot of communication? Is it more email, is it more outlining certain objectives you’re trying to accomplish?

I don’t think we ask the right questions. We go under assumptions a lot. I always tell the youngest generation, “When in doubt, pick up the phone, use [your] feet to go and have a conversation,” meaning, if you’re ever in doubt about “How’s this message is going to come across? Am I sending this message to the right person?” I’d be more conservative on taking the email route and [would] just have the conversation. And, I swear, just by having more conversations — whether that’s on the phone, whether that’s in person — you’ll come to a lot of solutions on what works in that organization, who the right leaders are.

And you also reduce the probability of that miscommunication. Miscommunication, to me, leads to a lot of assumptions, and no new hire wants to walk through that when they enter a new company and a new culture.

The first three months on the job are usually considered the “trial period.” Regular communicating aside, when is the right time to ask for feedback, and how often?

I would definitely say from the get-go. I was talking to a client yesterday — he’s brand new at a company. He said he’s about two months in. […] He goes, “This is really my time to create the reputation that I’m really proud of.” Right? Because no one really knows you. They’re going to determine what you’re like right up front. And anyone who has the confidence and the courage […] to ask for that feedback, that really builds a reputation of credibility, knowledge and trust.

Really find out who are the key people who are going to mentor you, who are going to be really strong leaders that you’ll want to follow so you can grow. I think as a new hire, the sky’s the limit. You’ve got the opportunity to take that first couple of weeks, first couple of months, to navigate through the company and to find out where those resources are. And when I say “resources,” I mean who those leaders are who you can truly follow, who you want to follow, and if they can truly be your advocates.

You often warn of “false feedback” plaguing the workplace. What are some ways younger, newer workers can perhaps gently press their bosses to dig deeper and be more upfront and critical than would be the most comfortable or easy evaluation to give?

[…] A lot of times, what happens is when we ask for feedback — and I’m sure our readers can relate — we ask the question, maybe after a meeting or a long conversation: “How did I do?” And typically the response is “Good, nice job, that was great!” And we walk around saying, “I’m good,” when, really, that’s not feedback, or there’s a chance they’re lying to you.

I talk a lot about prepared feedback — planned feedback. For example, if you and I were going to go into a meeting, and I trusted you and I knew that you’d tell me how it is, I would say to you beforehand, “Here’s what I’m working on. Would you listen for that?” Or maybe, “Listen for the first two minutes. It takes me a while to get going when I facilitate meetings, so just listen for this fill-in-the-blank.” Or, “I want to make sure I come across [as] trustworthy. Would you pay attention to that and then give me feedback afterwards?”

After the meeting, you and I, five minutes — that’s all it takes. I think, no matter how busy the lives we live [are], we can find the time for five minutes of our development. And for five minutes you give me that feedback, I can take the next steps with that. When I get feedback, I write it down on a post-it note, I put it right on my computer monitor at my desk so that it’s always in front of me, and I never forget it.

The alternative — the “false feedback” — almost sounds like that reflex we all have when asked “How are you?” No one wants to say anything other than “Good.”

Yeah, I found when I finally prepared for the feedback, when I told someone exactly, “Here’s what I’m trying to improve on, [and] would you watch for that,” it was more meaningful feedback. Because otherwise, if you just spring it on someone […] “How did I do?” They don’t even know what to say or what they want you to look for.

You’ve got to have the courage to ask for that feedback. Make sure you prepare for it, so it’s feedback that you can actually use, and that you can grow off of.

How should millennial workers prepare themselves for honest feedback on how they’re doing?

Since I focus on communication, I really break it into two categories: verbal — you know, what you say, your message, does that make sense, was I clear? Did I ramble? — then the second category is nonverbal. “I tend to roll my eyes a lot, did you notice that?” I’m just giving some examples here. “I say ‘um’ and ‘uh’ a lot — did I say those words?” It’s [a matter of] being very specific in […] what you want them to watch for.

And then I add a third element, and that’s how I want to be perceived Monday to Monday. What reputation do I want [people to] perceive [in] me? [For example,] “I really try to make sure that I connect with people so that they trust me. Would you see if that comes across that way through my tone of voice, or through my word choice?”

I always think of it as if, when you hired a personal trainer at the gym, you walked in and said, “I’m ready to work out.” And you never really tell him, “Here’s my goal. In 30 days I’d like to lose this much weight or I’d like to put on this much muscle mass.” It’s really the same concept.

Given all of that, what’s your advice for young workers asking for their first raises?

Be very succinct, very clear on why you believe you deserve that raise. And that’s going to be […] what have you specifically done to be able to sit there and ask for it, and what will you now be able to do for the benefit of the company? I find the error that, sometimes, millennials make is they’re talking about “why I should get the raise,” versus “I [should] get this raise, because here’s what I’ve already done for you, the company, and here’s what I’ll continue to do.” That, to me, is key.

This is why it’s so important to have that internal advocate — maybe it’s a couple of internal advocates you have — and constantly asking them for feedback, because you want to document it [and] you want to track your progress, maybe the consistency of your progress, these conversations [and] the feedback that you’ve specifically gotten from leaders, to help you raise your case on why you are the right next candidate for that raise [or] that position.