Team feedback

Have you tried this gutsy way to get feedback from your team, your staff, your family? It requires being open to hearing about your blind spots and not becoming defensive. In the long run, you – and your team – can grow from the experience. Here’s how it works.

Chet started the meeting with his staff (9 direct reports) talking about the importance and value in giving and receiving constructive feedback. Then he introduced them to the team feedback concept, which they hadn’t done before. He wanted them to discuss his performance and provide him with their candid, constructive feedback. He’d leave the room while they discussed.

Chet wanted to know:  

  1. what they thought he was doing well for the team
  2. what he could do differently that would positively impact the team
  3. what his blind spots were and what he could do about them

Their silent, question-mark expressions said it all. Was he serious? He assured them he couldn’t grow as their manager if he didn’t know what they thought of how he was doing and what he could improve. He’d be back in 40 minutes. (That was in a conference room; this year he did it virtually.)

Discussing what he did well was easy. But the two other topics tested their choice of language to be constructively candid. They ultimately prioritized what was most important and who would give the feedback.

At 40 minutes, Chet checked in, asking if they were ready. They wanted 5 more minutes. When he returned, he thanked them for working on this together, told them he was looking forward to hearing what they had to say, assured them he’d put on his armor, preparing to hear the good, the bad and the ugly. He listened, took notes, asked clarifying questions and – crucially – didn’t get defensive.

Their feedback opened his eyes to some new perspectives. He thanked them for their candor, told them some of it was hard to hear, and promised to think about all they’d said and get back to them with his response within 48 hours.

Team feedback has strengthened communication between the team and Chet. He’s a thoughtful leader who said It’s one of the hardest but best things he’s done with them.

What might asking for feedback in this way do for you?

Listening without getting defensive is hard. As I wrote in Get candid feedback on 7/13/20, the key is to… listen with an open mind. Don’t judge the feedback, whether it’s positive or negative… let them know their observations are helpful. The way you respond will determine if you’ll get honest feedback in the future. Get defensive or dismissive, and you can forget about ever hearing the truth again.

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