Giving feedback may be your least favorite part of your job. You don’t love asking for it, and you really hate giving it. But you are determined to help your team achieve better results, and you want to see some visible signs of improvement soon.
Overcome your barriers to giving and receiving feedback by making it a regular, expected way that you interact with co-workers, bosses, contractors and colleagues. Do these five things, and you’ll be well underway — without causing an uproar for you or anyone else!
- Share your enthusiasm for feedback in meetings.
- Invite others to share feedback on goals, plans or meetings.
- Thank people when they give or receive feedback, and remind them how better, faster feedback helps everyone.
- Refer to shared goals in every conversation, and discuss at least one result or observation for each.
- Link current actions you are taking to the feedback that inspired you to choose those actions.
1. Share Your Enthusiasm for Feedback
Enthusiasm about feedback is contagious. Your brain transmits emotions and other information directly to the people in your presence and, to some degree, the people you communicate with remotely. In fact, researchers have discovered using MRIs that people respond to others’ emotions by mimicking their brain wave activity.
In other words, if a leader expresses anger about someone higher up in the organization, they transfer that feeling to the people they talk to. When a leader visibly shows excitement about the future, their team members feel excited, too.
Before your next meeting, recall your positive feelings about giving and receiving feedback, and be sure to express those feelings. For example:
“It’s gonna be fun and exciting to hear your feedback for how the team can improve!”
“I’m happy that we’re going to set up some one-on-one time to kick off the quarter with actionable feedback!”
2. Ask Others for Feedback
After covering a topic or at the end of a meeting, ask the other person or people for their feedback and suggestions about the action steps you’ve planned. When you are first rolling out the practice of feedback, give an example of how to ask for feedback about an idea, even if the idea in question is one you suggested:
“Yeah, I suggested we have one person attend that presentation. Any feedback on whether we should send more than one or do more to prepare for it?”
3. Thank People
When you receive feedback, whether in a meeting or in a one-on-one conversation, thank the person who gives it to you. Find something to compliment about the feedback, even if it’s just the fact that they offered feedback. Ask them to expand on their idea, and express your intention to act on it (or at least part of it), if you honestly see it as useful.
You may need to modify the suggestion in order to make it work, but thank them anyway. That person may have spent time getting up the nerve to express the feedback, and you want to send a positive message to them and to everyone else in earshot. For example:
“I really appreciate your feedback! It will help us improve next week’s roll-out for the customer, and it’s building our feedback culture.”
4. Refer to Shared Goals
When you restate shared goals as a preface to your feedback, people accept the feedback more easily, because it feels less like personal criticism. Contrast these examples:
“In the interest of cutting our wait time in half, let’s prioritize and assign the right person to each project.”
“We’re wasting too much time by not prioritizing the jobs as they come in, and we’re assigning the bigger jobs to less experienced people.”
Which of these approaches is easier to hear?
5. Link Actions You Take to the Feedback That Inspired Them
If you have changed your leadership actions lately, use that change as an opportunity to highlight the feedback that led to it. For instance:
“A couple of you suggested we have the planning meetings in the first week of the month. Thanks for the great idea! Now everyone knows when to plan for them.”
“You guys suggested that I not wait for late people to start the call. It was a great idea, and I think we’ll use everyone’s time better.”
Make notes today to remind yourself to implement these five easy actions — and you’ll notice huge results!