If you have been in the workforce for even a moderate amount of time, you likely have an opinion based on a real-life experience of what feedback may sound like when it’s done for show rather than to grow. If I had to guess, it may have been a boss who asked for feedback but wanted their ego stroked. Or they expected you to solicit feedback so they could “guide” you, which amounted to being told how they’d like you to perform your role, but their way. In the hands of a poor leader, feedback can feel or look like more of a weapon than a tool.

However, in an atmosphere of elevated leadership, feedback can be a tremendously productive tool, fostering trust to build transparent communication. When we seek to develop our own talents through self-development, and concurrently focus on doing the same for others, a culture of feedback becomes a competitive advantage.  

Tip #1: It's Not a Debate

Tip #1: It’s Not a Debate

As a leader, it’s essential to be an example of awareness, action, and communication via feedback. That means a commitment to not only solicit the three types of feedback, appreciation, evaluation, and coaching but also to hear it from the perspective of the giver. This is the precise moment when some leaders are tempted to debate the feedback and plead their case. They’d like you, the deliverer, to know why you are wrong, what information they think you don’t have, or how they did the best they could at the time. 

Of course, all of that may be very interesting, yet completely unhelpful in the spirit of communicating through feedback. You have received important insight into the perception of those on the receiving end of your behavior. Your choice is to empathize with them by accepting their reality as valid. If you seek to debate, then it is different from the feedback you desire. 

Tip #2: Focus on the Behavior

Tip #2: Focus on the Behavior

Now you are of a mindset to listen rather than debate, let’s add another focus item: behavior. Sometimes, receiving or delivering feedback may seem like a personal attack. This is why consistently calling out the behavior, not the person, is critical. They are not telling us we are wrong; they are telling us the behavior we display has consequences. The more we distinguish, the more we empower our culture to shift positively. Why is the distinction so powerful? Because we innately understand that we can change a behavior, but I cannot change who I am. 

How you frame this feedback is simple and, with practice, easy. Your tone is calm, and you are specific. “When you [behavior}, then [outcome]. If you [alternate behavior], then [better outcome].” When you look at your phone while I’m speaking, I feel that you are either not listening or that I am not important enough for your undivided attention. If you put your phone out of sight and earshot during our meetings, I would trust that I am heard.

Tip #3: Close the Feedback Loop

Tip #3: Close the Feedback Loop

One of the early concerns that surfaces between layers of an organizational chart sounds like this: “They [management] keep asking for feedback, but nothing ever changes.” As you read that, were you nodding or rolling your eyes? Your response is a function of which side of the equation you are on. When we ask for feedback, especially from a large group, we must tell them what we will do with the information and whether or not they will hear about our action steps. By doing this, leaders know their teams will contribute openly, and teams know leadership will use the information as promised. 

This does not need to be complicated. Begin with an opening remark: “As we consider new software to help manage client relationships, we are asking all of you to contribute. Because multiple users across the organization have very different needs, we will balance what each needs to cover core, critical functions.” Clear is kind. If they will receive a follow-up, then say so. If not, then say that. 

A core element of communication that is tied to profitable action is feedback. Leaders have all the information they need to make better decisions if they ask their teams. And team members have all the information they need to develop the career of their dreams when they hear actionable feedback regularly. 

When working with an Executive Business Coach, you will receive feedback, choose an action plan, and see tangible results over time. Still trying to figure out where to start? Then begin with a Meet & Greet, and let’s see how we get along.  

If you want to experience coaching to know if it can take you, your team, and your business to new heights, then the Breakthrough Strategy Session is for you. The cost is 90 minutes of your time; at the end, you will know whether you would like to move forward.

Being coached and mentored by Ken is at the highest level. His confidence, knowledge and patience will help you see (vision), understand and feel the potential that you have as a leader in your industry.

I am an entrepreneur who has designed, built, launched, and rejuvenated successful businesses.

I now take great joy in helping other businesses find success through Executive Business Coaching as the CEO+Founder of Leader’s Cut.

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