4 Ways the Right Feedback Can Help You Lead Effectively

Leaders have the power to create environments in which the flow of feedback is highly valued and highly sustainable.

However, if you want feedback to be meaningful, you must be willing to accept that it is not always going to be flattering or positive. In fact, some of it will be critical, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As we learned in our last blog, it is how you handle criticism and decide what to pay attention to that is key.

In general, when you receive honest, and actionable feedback, you can use it to learn and adjust your approach, eliminate your blind spots, and hone your skills as a leader, not to mention, help your team and organization run more efficiently. 

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to create a culture where everyone feels comfortable sharing open two-way feedback – that is part of fostering a high performing team and company.

You also need to act on the feedback you receive. Simply paying lip service and thanking others and walking away without application of the learning does not serve anyone. Your team will be apt to think their feedback doesn’t really matter to you, which will sap employee morale and make them feel more hesitant about providing feedback in the future. When you show others that you are mindful and thoughtful regarding feedback, it will also go a long way bolstering the way they perceive and react to feedback.

If you are open to feedback and ready to act upon it in a meaningful way, here are 4 ways tips you can apply to strengthen your leadership.

#1 – Make it Safe to Speak Up

As mentioned, people are much more willing to provide honest, useful, and actionable feedback when they know they are safe in doing so. To create a psychologically safe environment in which everyone knows it’s safe to provide feedback without fear, you can model the right behavior by demonstrating your own vulnerability and by rewarding others for sharing their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. This is part of creating a safe space where they will speak their truth without fear of repercussions.

This also reinforces how important it is to be genuinely curious when asking for feedback. Coming at it from a conversational perspective, will help foster open, honest dialogue that can turn into a tremendously positive experience for you and your employees. 

#2 – Be Thoughtful and Specific with Your Questions

Don’t fall into the trap of being too general and simple in your approach. If you ask simple and vague questions such as “what do you think?”, you’ll likely not get much in-depth feedback in return. Instead, be thoughtful and creative. Ask specific questions that relate to specific data points or about a person’s feelings as they relate to a specific scenario. Take the time to understand how people like to give feedback, as the more you know your people, the better you’ll be at getting them to speak freely with you.

#3 – Avoid the Urge to Fight Back

If you are confronted with criticism, it’s natural to react defensively. It can make you feel like you are being attacked. However, if you want open, honest feedback, you must be ready to hear things that may not sit well with you. The good news is, this feedback, when taken in stride positively will help you become a better leader and allow you to show up more powerfully. When you receive it with grace and avoid the urge to defend yourself, you create a more open, honest and communicative culture.

#4 – Listen with an Open Mind, Say “Thank You” and Follow Up

When someone gives you feedback, it is your job to receive it with openness. Active listening is the secret of all effective communication, and it’s no different when it comes to feedback. It’s not about simply giving employees the freedom to speak up; it’s about being receptive to what they have to say.

Gratitude is also helpful. When you show appreciation for the feedback you have been given, you send a message to people that feedback is something of value to you, which, in turn, sends the message that you value them.

Finally, the feedback process doesn’t end with you listening and saying, “thank you.” In fact, it never really ends. You should follow up with your people regularly to address the issues that have been brought up. Create action plans and share them with your employees to show them that the giving and receiving of feedback is a continual two-way street. 

Are You Ready to Receive and Act on Feedback?

If you are not receiving the feedback you need, you may need to think more deeply about your approach.

If you’re having trouble taking action to elicit feedback or in how to handle what you hear, I can help you sort everything out so it’s clear in your mind and you can take positive steps to move forward knowing you are helping yourself and your people to improve.

You can reach out to me by calling 1.855.871.3374 or emailing joanne.trotta@leadersedgeinc.ca.

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