It seems that everyone has jumped on the feedback wagon right now.
Whether you’ve bought a book, an auction item or even your weekly groceries, these companies seem to be desperate to hear all about our buying experience.
And, whilst this is said mainly tongue-in-cheek, we do agree that there are many benefits to giving and receiving feedback. It helps with streamlining systems, identifying under-achievers and allows people to step up their game. (It also makes good marketing fodder, too.)
But feedback is perceived in different ways.
- Positive feedback, by its very nature, is welcomed, stored away for future reference and gives you a confidence boost.
- Negative feedback is less desirable and can be taken as personal criticism.
As leaders, it’s important that when giving and receiving feedback we can transform it into a constructive action. Always give a balanced view of the feedback – ie don’t try and soften the blow of negative feedback and don’t over-exaggerate the positive.
Giving Feedback to Your Team
Create a conducive environment – feeding back to a team member team isn’t always easy, particularly if it’s erring more on the negative side. So, it’s important that feedback sessions are always private, confidential and devoid of any distractions.
Stick to the facts – try to avoid your own opinions, emotions and thoughts. By all means, refer to examples and recite quotes from the feedback, but don’t try to embellish it in any way.
Make it constructive – try and transform negative feedback into a constructive action. Anyone with a conscience will be uncomfortable receiving negative feedback and it’s therefore a good idea for them to have something positive to hold onto from the session. Creating a ‘lessons learnt’ action plan is one such way.
Receiving Feedback as a Senior Leader
If you’re a senior leader then you’ll probably know first-hand that the higher up the ranks you climb, the more isolated and lonely it becomes. So that’s why you should welcome feedback with open arms.
Listening to what others think of your skills, abilities and responses is essential if you want to develop. And whilst it can often make you squirm, it’s important that you listen.
360◦ feedback is a really beneficial way of finding out about your strengths and weaknesses from an honest perspective. Safe in the knowledge that the feedback is anonymous, you’ll receive constructive pointers from peers, managers, stakeholders and direct reports and it can be an invaluable tool to help your leadership skills grow.
Consider your response carefully – if the feedback you’re listening to is somewhat negative and you’re infuriated inside, you must not react. Take the time to respond thoughtfully, carefully and avoid taking it personally. Put your emotions and your passion for your role to one side and make a considered response rather than a regrettable reaction.
Ask questions – only when you’re given the opportunity to respond should you do so. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re uncertain about something or you need clarification. But do take the time to consider the phrasing of your questions. Making the feedback provider feel defensive can be counter-productive.
Be open to receiving feedback – look on this as an opportunity for growth. Feedback – whether positive or negative – on your performance, your results or the way you’ve dealt with a project or situation is character-building. Quite often, if you’re leading a project, you can become too close to it. Feedback is a way of looking at things with a fresh pair of eyes so welcome it accordingly.
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