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5 Steps to Getting More Valuable Feedback
Why are we so reluctant and uncomfortable to give and receive feedback? It is basic human nature. We subconsciously seek to avoid conflict and we meet negative feedback with a fight-or-flight response.
We only like one kind of feedback: positive.
As a leader, you need to master the art of giving feedback to receive valuable feedback from your team/employees. It goes both ways, as feedback-sharing is based on reciprocity and trust.
Getting proper feedback from your reports is indispensable for long- as well as short-term success.
- Without valuable feedback, you cannot get the work done. As the cornerstone of communication, feedback is also the basis of meaningful work, which is the greatest boost to employee motivation, emotions, and the quality of the workday.
- If you do not receive feedback, you will fail as a leader. Your reports may not share feedback with you for several reasons. They may consider you incapable of helping, or they may assume that you do not care.
- As I have pointed out in my books, without this essential communication skill, you are unable to manage conflict, create genuine relationships, and ultimately influence others. You do not need a business coach to tell you that without the ability to influence others, you cannot lead.
Steps You Can Take to Improve the Quality and Quantity of the Feedback You Receive
Having been involved in leadership coaching for several decades, I have devised a brief action plan to help you boost this vital area of your communication skills.
Ask for Feedback!
You may believe that fostering a culture of empathy and mutual understanding while leaving the door open to all communication, is enough to reap valuable feedback from your employees. As a seasoned business coach, I can tell you that it is not. You need to go out of your way and proactively request feedback. You should be very specific and not just ask whether your team has any feedback for you. Ask questions such as:
- Do you have suggestions on how we could improve our communication?
- Am I giving you too much/too little direction on work?
- Do you feel that your ideas are heard and acted upon?
- At what time of the day do you feel most productive? Is there anything we can do to accommodate working to your productivity?
Avoid Becoming Defensive
As mentioned, receiving feedback is not easy. We have built-in psychological defenses against constructive feedback that mostly equates it to criticism. You need to learn to suppress these defenses and the best way to accomplish this is to always assume positive intent.
See the constructive feedback your reports give you as a blessing. If you recoil in horror every time someone approaches you with feedback, you will discourage it and sever communication.
Always thank your reports for the feedback. Discuss possible solutions to the problems raised.
Swing Into Action
When your reports give you the gift of feedback, they want to see it translated to changes. By listening to them but not acting on their ideas, you discourage them from sharing feedback in the future.
Whenever you act on feedback, you reward the courage of the provider and you empower him/her at the same time.
Harness the Power of Reciprocity
When they receive something from their peers, people feel compelled to reciprocate.
Do not expect feedback if you are not capable of reciprocating. Make the first move and make your reports feel indebted to return the gesture. Reciprocity is extremely powerful because it overrides feelings. You may have existing tension with a team member, but you can overcome these issues through reciprocity.
When given something, there is a natural urge to reciprocate.
By becoming a regular feedback provider, you will also lead by example.
Trick Reluctant Teams into Providing Feedback
Some people are too shy, apprehensive, or resentful to offer you valuable feedback to your face. In such cases, use anonymous surveys or suggestion boxes to get them to voice their concerns.
My Strategic-Tactical Leadership Index (STLI-360) is a great tool that allows you to gain meaningful and anonymous but very specific information from your team, that will help you calibrate your outer-core leadership competencies.