As this blog’s all about feedback and managing people well, this includes you getting feedback from your team. Yes, Dear Reader, you need to get feedback as well as give it. And you need to be able to do that without seeming creepy or needy, whining, “but why doesn’t anyone on my team give me feedback, WHY?”
There could be all kinds of reasons why they don’t:
- They’re really, really scared of how you might respond if they give you feedback
- Where they come from (previous employer, nationality, ethnicity, family upbringing, you name it) it’s just not done to give the manager feedback
- They think that feedback is only about criticism and feel uncomfortable about criticising you
- They’d like to give you positive feedback but don’t want to seem like a total creep
- They haven’t got a clue what to say and how to say it
- They fear that if they give you feedback, a series of comments they don’t want to hear may be headed their way in reply
- They’re your peer and feel it’s not their place to give you feedback
You need to help them get over their reluctance, whatever the cause may be.
If you’re only getting feedback from those more senior than you, you’re getting less than a quarter of the picture. What’s more, if feedback only comes from those higher up in the organisation than you, chances are it’s a lot less frequent than you need – typically annually – and retrospective. You need feedback from those at or around the same level as you, such as colleagues you work with from other departments and disciplines. You need feedback from stakeholders such as suppliers and clients. And you most certainly need feedback from those you manage. In real time.
Now it may be that your working culture doesn’t really believe that it’s right and good for ‘underlings’ to give feedback to their managers. If so, that’s a pity – and a missed opportunity (and don’t be surprised if comments pop up in exit interviews as those who are heading out the door point out that they didn’t dare give their boss feedback). But if you want to create a motivating environment for your team, where people know how they’re doing and what they need to do to improve, they need feedback from you. And you need feedback from them.
Next time you’re having a conversation with one of your team, try one or a combination of these questions:
“What do I need to know about you for us to work really well together?”
“What’s the most important thing I can do to support your progress?”
“How might I be holding you back without realising it?”
“What opportunity do you need me to give (or create with) you to for you to be more fulfilled?”
“When it comes to managing your performance, what do you need me to do more/less of?”
“How will you know I’m doing all the right things for the team to be motivated?”
“What one thing will make the biggest difference?”
Give your team member fair hearing (they may feel a little put on the spot, even reluctant, so give them time) and stay open to their suggestions.
Image: Michael Fair/Deposit Photos