When you’re the boss in an organization, it’s sometimes difficult to collect honest feedback on your performance. But getting feedback is crucial for developing your leadership skills, further honing your management skills and improving business strategies.
While feedback is integral for continuous improvement, it’s understandable why workers would be hesitant to offer their honest opinions. Managers hold the fate of a worker’s working life in their hands — negative feedback could affect their access to valuable resources, or employee could even end up with a negative review of their own or even lose their position altogether.
So, how do you encourage employees to offer up their constructive criticism on your performance?
Here’s a bit of advice we’ve gathered to lure employees out of their critical shells.
Address the Elephant in the Room
When attempting to collect feedback from your direct reports, it’s helpful to address the giant pink elephant in the room: their hesitance. Reiterating the fact that everyone is human and makes mistakes (including leadership) can make them a bit more comfortable. And encouraging them to call you on your errors invites workers to tender their feedback, despite you being their senior.
Acknowledging their fear sets the tone to encourage honest communication and can help put nervous employees at ease.
Ask for Context
Setting the stage for honest communication and feedback is key when asking for feedback, regardless of your level of leadership within an organization. Whether you’re an employee or a manager, it’s a good idea to encourage examples for any sort of criticism or feedback.
So, when you’re requesting direct reports to offer their opinions, let them know that you welcome examples to illustrate their points. This help weed out biases and keeps the path to improvement more concrete and less arbitrary.
When an employee is intrepid enough to offer their honest (and constructive) opinion, make sure you respond with positive reinforcement. Acknowledge and thank them for their feedback — because you know it’s tough and takes some bravery to correct your boss’ behaviour.
The word will spread that you as a manager are responsive to constructive criticism. And that likely will lead to other employees tendering their input as well.
But ensure you go beyond simply acknowledging their feedback: act on their opinions. Ensure that they didn’t waste their time by speaking up. If the input is solid, correct the addressed behaviour. This reinforces that you respond well to their input, welcome it and have the followthrough to correct your error.