Feedback is a crucial part of all business relationships. Companies need feedback from their customers to ensure their product or service is what their customer wants and needs. Employees need feedback to reinforce when they are performing well or redirect behavior or actions that might be derailing their success. Most importantly, leaders need feedback from just about everyone they interact with to ensure they are effective and impactful. Without feedback from employees, partners, superiors and peers, leaders are flying blind, without any real idea of how they are impacting their people, their customers and their organization.
Unfortunately, even though feedback is crucial for a leader’s success, it often goes unsaid or gets soft pedaled to protect the leader’s ego or for fear of retribution. This lack of feedback leads to huge issues for a leader and their organization, including disengaged employees, broken trust and ineffective team. How do you overcome this? Here are 5 tips you can use to get the real and honest feedback you need to improve your leadership.
- Recognize you need it. Be aware that nobody is perfect and everyone has opportunity for improvement. Know your strengths, but also be honest about where you need development. Recognize that you may need help in determining your blind spots. Everybody says they welcome feedback, but the majority of people persist in thinking that they are perfect. This subtle shift in your mindset will be apparent to those around you. People are more likely to give you feedback if they can sense you really want it.
- Practice being open. Practicing openness in the workplace elevates the level of engagement and teamwork and makes it much easier to solve problems as a group.Make sure you offer opportunities for open discussion where employees can voice their concerns. This openness will make it easier for employees to give and also receive feedback.
- Be proactive and ask for the feedback you want. Don’t wait for someone to give you feedback. Routinely ask for specific, timely, prescriptive feedback. If you ask a generic question like “how am I doing?”, you’re going to get generic answer that won’t really serve you. Focus on the situations you want feedback on and request feedback specific to your leadership style or your impact.
- Mention the unmentionable. If you ask for feedback from peers or employees and you still aren’t receiving it, try mentioning the unmentionable. The best way to get honest feedback is to put specific issues on the table and show it’s okay to talk about. By putting a potentially touchy topic on the table, you give the other person permission to talk about it. Mentioning the unmentionable helps reduce their reluctance because it lets them know you’re open to talking about the issue you just brought up.
- Act on feedback. It’s one thing to thank someone for feedback, it’s quite another to change behaviors as a result. You have to show people that you are willing to course correct or they might think you are not worth the time, energy and courage it takes to impart feedback, especially if you are their superior. You don’t have to act on every piece of feedback you are given, but as a leader you have the responsibility to carefully listen to and consider every piece of feedback you are given. If you choose not to act on feedback, explain the why behind it. It will go a long way to ensure you continue to receive you need to be successful.
Putting these five tips into play will help you ensure that you are not only getting the information you need to be a successful, impactful leader; you will also create a more open and trusting environment in the workplace. By actively pursuing feedback you can be sure that your actions and behaviors have the intended impact and you will always know where you stand with your peers, leaders, employees and customers.
If you want even more in-depth feedback, consider completing a 360-degree feedback assessment. A 360-feedback assessment is a way to get anonymous, targeted feedback from peers, direct reports, leaders and more. These assessments can provide valuable insights, unveil specific areas to improve your leadership skills and a targeted plan to help you become a more effective and impactful leader.