We all know just how important feedback is to employees. It helps them develop their skills and work toward their career goals. But many organizations forget that feedback should be a two-way street. If you want to truly support your team, and create a more positive and productive workplace, you also need to be open to receiving feedback yourself.
Receiving Feedback Is Just as Important as Giving
Leaders are accustomed to giving feedback and constructive criticism to their teams. This is actually one of the hallmarks of a great leader, the ability to give consistent and helpful feedback, tailored to each individual employee. But take a minute to consider just how often you solicit feedback from your team?
As more and more organizations embrace collaborative work environments, many still people feel intimidated by management, especially leaders at the upper levels of the company. Even when leaders roll up their sleeves and work in the trenches with their staff, there can still be a feeling of us-versus-them.
Generally, middle management receives regular feedback from their managers. However, those in the C-suite may only receive feedback from investors or a Board of Directors, which can come infrequently, if at all. Not asking for honest feedback from your team is a huge missed opportunity – and a risk.
In order to create an environment where feedback is openly given and received, you must first foster a culture of communication. Anonymous submissions to a suggestion box or responses on employee satisfaction surveys are not the best means to gauge how you and other leaders are doing. Having honest conversations with your team members about projects, goals, workload, or just getting to know them more on an individual level will help them feel more comfortable and open.
Attempt to understand the dynamics and issues of your team and organization before directly soliciting feedback from colleagues and staff. It is not possible to help employees be more open if you are seen as clueless about what happens within the walls of your office.
Start slow and bring the discussion to a neutral location. Invite one or two team members to coffee or lunch. Allow yourself and your team to become comfortable with the process. Asking for feedback in a casual environment will feel less threatening for everyone involved. And removing the perceived hierarchy of sitting in your office or a conference room will create an environment that is more like colleagues than manager and staff – at least in this scenario.
Finally, be ready to face some harsh truths without becoming defensive. Once a culture of honest communication is established, you may receive feedback that is not entirely favorable – and that is to be expected. Be prepared to own your mistakes and shortcomings and become dedicated to making any necessary changes.
The key to becoming a better leader is to understand how you can best support your team. Soliciting honest feedback from the people who work with you on a daily basis is the single best way to do so.
Lance LeFort is sought out by leaders in Animation, VFX, Video Games, and Digital Entertainment who recognize the need to attract the industry’s best talent. Through LeFort Talent Group’s extensive network of relationships and their “deep dive” qualification process, they are able to identify and secure individuals who represent the top tier of professionals.