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Are You Sure You Want Feedback? Prove It.

March 26, 2024

If you want to grow, getting feedback is essential. But as a manager, getting good feedback—the honest and unfiltered kind—is difficult. Given the power dynamic and the strong tendency of folks to filter what they share, you need a better approach. The best recipe combines vulnerability and confidence (spoiler alert: the former creates the latter).

The Question:

During a recent event with a group of managers from a new client, a question emerged: "How do I get more feedback from my team.” Others agreed in the live chat, which was a great sign of openness to hear some uncomfortable things.

The Challenge:

"If you want more feedback," I began, "the counterintuitive way to get it is, rather than ask for it, show them that you’re already working with the feedback they’ve given you.” In other words, rather than ask them to do something they are reluctant to do (which is a subtle way of you trying to use force), work on changing the conditions that cause why they feel that way (which is a subtle way of you using care).

The Action:

How do you change the conditions? Find a moment in an upcoming meeting (or 1:1) and tell them how you work with the feedback you’ve already received. It might sound like this:

“Hey team, I recently received feedback that I was coming across as negative in our project meetings. It was a bit hard for me to hear at first, but after some reflection, I think it’s fair feedback. I have been letting the stress get to me a bit, and I need to find ways to better manage that. For those of you who raised the concern with me, I just want to say thanks for pointing this out.”

An action like this, embodying actual vulnerability (a misunderstood word), can radically and quickly increase or restore trust.

A Kind of Mention: 

The approach mirrors The Accountability Dial, creating results by prioritizing curiosity rather than quick solutions. The example above can be thought of as a kind of Mention, a way to send a message that feedback isn’t just something you give but that you are equally open to receiving.

Bringing it Home:

If you want more feedback at work, how about transferring that skill back home? Especially if you’re a parent, but it could be with friends, with your children or your own parents. Is there a way that you may have closed yourself off from feedback without realizing it?

  • When you’re with them, do you do most of the talking? 
  • Do they sense that you are in a rush to get off the phone?  
  • Or that you have too much going on in your life to be curious about theirs?

Personal and professional growth are one thing, not two.

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