Most leaders “say” they want feedback. Yet, leaders today struggle with how to get others to provide it in an effective and constructive way.
Just in case you are wondering, no organization does the “feedback” thing perfectly. However, every company, including yours can do a better job at soliciting it and then deciding if and how to act on it.
Just because you’re in charge doesn’t mean you don’t want or need feedback from your team. If you are a trusted leader, they will willingly offer it in a professional and meaningful way. In fact, if you are a trusted leader, you are doing a good job of encouraging it. If you’re not sure how to ask, try this approach; ask periodically:
- “What one thing I could do to improve how we work together?”
- Or, ask “how can I help you to do your job better?”
Your goal is to get straight truthful answers. Now don’t be surprised if you get a less than meaningful answer the first time you ask. Don’t let that dissuade you from asking again and again. Stay with it – the results will more than pay for the effort.
Don’t let the people you ask gloss over issues. Ask them to talk about performance issues or obstacles as opposed to ignoring them. Your job as the leader is to focus on results. Getting this type of feedback out in the open is crucial to your success and the success of your team and organization.
When team members finally open up, be direct with your responses and how you will follow through on them. If nothing can be done, say so but be sure to explain your position and why action cannot be taken. Be sure to thank them for their help. This will help you earn their trust and continuous feedback going forward.
You want to create a culture within your organization that encourages the open sharing of opinions. You need that flow of feedback in order to get the information you need to make the right decisions.
Finally, learn to be patient and listen to all of the feedback offered. Don’t rush to answer or cut off the information. Listen to it all and then make your decision. You are not obligated to act on everything you may hear. But as a leader, you must understand that genuine listening is one of your most effective tools.