3 Steps Leaders Can Take to Receive Better Feedback

Luke Baker | May 23, 2018

Leaders can have a complicated relationship with feedback, particularly receiving it.

You lead a team of individuals who want to carry your vision well, work hard, and grow in responsibility. And asking them for feedback has the potential to put them in a situation where they feel as if their honesty can hurt their relationship with you rather than help it. Nobody wants to upset the boss.

It takes a proper perception of feedback to graciously give it, and it takes humility to receive it. Most poor feedback stems from an unhealthy view of it. But as a high-achieving leader, you know the importance it plays in your growth as an individual and a team.

So how do you change the perception of feedback in order to receive it well from your team?

Here are three steps you can take as a leader to start receiving better feedback from your team:

Let your team know WHY their voice matters

Everyone’s voice worth listening to, but not everyone’s voice has the same weight in your life. Make clear the weight of your team members’ words to you.

If you’re asking someone for feedback it implies their voice matters to you, but people need to hear that for themselves. Let individuals know why you are particularly asking them for feedback, and be as specific as possible. General requests produce general responses. Be specific with your praises and your questions.

Let your team know what feedback is and is not

Feedback is not the expression of disapproval of someone based on perceived mistakes. That’s criticism. Feedback is not an analysis of the faults of an individual. That’s judgment.

Feedback is truth delivered with grace in hopes of bettering a person and a team.

But how do you change the perception of feedback if your team carries a faulty view of it?

Try communicating with desired descriptors of feedback instead of using the actual word itself. For instance, use “advice” or “improve,” and structure your questions using this type of language.

Here are a few questions you can ask people to help them in restructuring the way they think about offering feedback:

“How can I improve in this specific area?”

“If you were in my position, what would you do differently?”

“I’m wanting to improve in this area of my leadership. What advice do you have for me to help make that happen?”

Let your team know you’re actively listening

Andy Stanley says, “Leaders who won’t listen will eventually surround themselves with people who have nothing to say.”

Wow. Go ahead. Read that again.

One of the strongest indicators of a leader who won’t listen is someone who consistently hears the same feedback, but refuses to make any changes.

Active listening does not consist of mere eye contact and head nodding. That’s hearing. A leader moves from hearing to listening when change takes place. Even a change in understanding is a start in bridging the gap with your team as long as you communicate the change happening

You can put your team at ease by admitting your areas of weakness before asking for their advice on how to improve. This informs them you have been actively listening to what people are saying and care to make changes.

Take time to evaluate your feedback system. If you have built a team with character as their cornerstone, then you can trust their words are meant to help and not hurt.

“The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.”-Proverbs 15:31

Feedback is supposed to be a life-giving process. It’s up to you as the leader to cultivate a community that truly believes that. Empower the voices around you, clearly communicate a healthy perception of feedback, and listen like your team depends on it.

Luke Baker is the Digital Content Producer at Catalyst. He is a lover of tea and Twitter, and cares too much about his Uber passenger rating. 

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