As a leader, you spend a lot of time reading about the importance of giving feedback. Much has been written about that topic in this blog. It’s true. Your ability to effectively give feedback to your employees will have a great impact on your performance as a manager. Just as important is your ability to gather feedback from the people who report to you.
It’s too easy to just wait for the employee satisfaction survey to come out to find out how you are doing as a leader. To increase your effectiveness, you need to seek feedback in an attempt to improve, not just yourself, but also your team.
Further complicating the process is the fact that most employees carry at least a little bit of fear when it comes to giving feedback to the person that has the ability to control their future. There are several things you can do as a leader to at least help people feel more comfortable giving you the feedback you need.
The list includes, but is not limited to:
1. Make sure people understand you are available and welcome their feedback. There’s a difference between having an “open door policy” and actually showing people that it works in your organization. Once a couple of people experience the process of coming in to sit down and talk to you about what’s on their mind, they will begin to tell others that it’s a safe place to give feedback.
2. Model what giving feedback looks like. The better you are at giving feedback, both positive and developmental, in a non-threatening way, the easier it will be for people to come to you and share when something is bothering them.
3. Ask repeatedly. Simply telling people that you want their feedback once is not enough. You have to ask them over and over again. It sounds funny, but if you only ask once, there’s a chance people will believe you are not sincere. If they hear you asking repeatedly, they are more apt to give you what you are looking for.
4. Spend time with your people. When employees see you as a person and not a part of the “leadership team”, they will warm to the thought of giving you feedback. Take people to lunch and learn about who they are and what they like outside of work. Bring lunch in for the whole team and then sit with them and eat and listen to what they are talking about. Just being there eases the tension and lets them know you don’t have an announcement to make to spend time with them.
5. Follow-up. Any time you receive feedback from one of your team members, it’s important to follow-up and let them know what you are planning to do, or have already done in response to the feedback.
Remember that feedback is a two-way street. Your people want to know how they are doing so they can improve. They also want to share helpful information about what would make the entire workgroup or organization better.