Seeking Feedback – A Key Leadership Skill

Giving Feedback

The Freedom to Seek Feedback

Giving and receiving feedback are hard skills to master. How do you rate yourself in each one?

Seeking Feedback

Have you considered seeking feedback? Feedback is wonderful input as you strengthen your leadership and plan your career. You also pass a maturity milestone in your development as a manager and leader when you are able to actively and easily seek feedback.

It seems a simple enough thing — asking others about your own performance. But because it is so personal, so close to what we hold dear — our own work performance — many find it very difficult to do. We can become quite good at giving feedback, telling others about meeting or not meeting expectations, but still are unable to seek feedback.

For example, I once knew someone who was very free in “giving feedback” about how a person frustrated or annoyed him. But that same person was unable to either seek feedback on his own actions, or to accept unsolicited feedback graciously.

Growth and Development

Let’s start with the premise that you realise that improvement and development is a lifelong journey and that that you want to improve, to better meet the needs of your staff and your organisation. How do you know whether you are meeting those needs, or improving? An extraordinarily powerful, quick and easy way to check that is to ask how you are performing. The feedback that you will get this way is like gold, something to be treasured. It will fast track your improvement in very tangible, noticeable ways. It will also build open and trusting relationships and change the culture of your team as you begin to freely discuss performance together.

When we begin to seek feedback it can be confronting, because we fear that we are not going to measure up, or we don’t trust our colleagues, or we are struggling with our own jealousy of the performance of others.

It Becomes Easier

It becomes easier to seek feedback if we depersonalise it, if we treat it as though we are seeking information about an issue that we wish to understand better.

It becomes easier if we focus only on eliciting information through our questions. If we try to respond to feedback, or rationalise, or act defensively about it, we may not get the accuracy of information that we seek. Just ask clarifying questions, gather the information and thank the provider of the feedback for taking the time to talk.

It becomes easier with practice. Ask a number of people, 3 or 4 times per year.

It becomes easier if you look for patterns in the feedback rather than trying to please everyone. Do people indicate that you need to improve your communication skills? Be a better listener? Complete your work by agreed deadlines? If you receive consistent feedback about a specific behaviour, you may conclude that the behaviour impacts a lot of people who work with or for you, and therefore it would be an excellent one to target for improvement.

It becomes easier if you chose one area to work on and make a plan for improvement. Dispassionately analyse the feedback that you received, create and commit to an action plan, and perhaps even share it with those who gave you feedback. They will be more than likely happy to provide you with feedback on your progress.

Five Ideas for Seeking Feedback

If you are wondering how to start, here are some suggestions.

  1. Ask your staff.
    How am I doing as a manager? Do I support you? Is there anything else that you need from me? What three things could I do differently in order make you more successful (because if you are successful, I am successful)?
  2. Ask your peers.
    How am I as a co worker? Do I support you and your efforts as well as my own? What more do you need from me? What do you most appreciate about working with me? What three things could I do differently to increase my value to the organisation?
  3. Ask your customers, clients, suppliers.
    How did I do? Could I have done better? What would have added more value for you? Are our processes effective and efficient? What would you like more of or less of from me?
  4. Ask your boss.
    How am I as one of your team? Do I work well with others? What do you see as my strengths? How could I improve? How can I better meet your needs? What three things could I do differently to help you be more successful?
  5. Ask your partner.
    Am I a good partner? Do I listen enough to your thoughts and ideas? How can I improve? What would make a big difference to you? What is it that you most treasure about me?

Good luck! Plan to seek feedback sometime within the next two weeks.

If would like to discuss any aspect of performance or self development, please call. Would you like to work on giving and seeking feedback? Are you part of an aligned Performance Focused Organisation? Would you like to develop yourself to be a valuable part of your organisation? Or do you work in a competitive culture where it is difficult to seek feedback. We are so passionate about our work, we love to talk. And if you are one of our coaching clients, we LOVE to give you feedback.  Wherever you are, call us.

Indra Process and Performance Consulting
www.indraconsulting.com

Written by Ganga Harvey. All articles that appear on Indra Consulting’s blog are copyright Indra Process and Performance Consulting.

HBR Articles Worth Browsing

How to Get Feedback when Noone is Volunteering It

After you have typed in some text, hit ENTER to start searching...