How to Get Feedback from Your Team
Feedback is an essential part of leadership. Giving feedback is essential to develop individuals and teams, and to boost their performance. However, many leaders (especially those with little leadership experience) tend to forget the importance of receiving feedback.
I’ve seen this a lot with my clients. As you build and scale a creative agency, the pressure is on to ensure your people are doing their best work for your clients. That pressure often leads to a one-way street of feedback. In the short term, this serves the purpose intended: your team develops and does its best work for you. But without feedback from your team, how do you know you are doing your best to be confident as a leader?
Why team feedback is crucial as a leader
Feedback from team members is crucial for any leader. It helps you stay productive and make the right decisions. It helps you identify what is important for your team, what needs improvement, and how best to develop open communication. It also helps you avoid making mistakes by avoiding impulsive choices.
When given honestly, the feedback you receive will help you learn more about yourself and how to communicate with your people more effectively.
When integrated into your thinking, feedback also becomes an essential tool when seeking solutions to problems within your business or during specific project work.
When you encourage your team to provide you with feedback, you give them permission to give you their perspective on your leadership. You provide the opportunity for you to explore how best to lead your team.
How to get feedback from your team
Getting feedback from your team can be a challenging task, but it is crucial to developing confidence as a leader and improving your business performance. It will also help your people to feel valued and supported. How do you start?
Here are four steps to encourage, initiate, and develop a continuous feedback loop.
Step #1: Ask for feedback!
The feedback you receive from your employees can help you realize if your approach is on target or not. But asking for feedback can be hard. The first thing to do is make sure you are ready for feedback before asking for it.
It is important to remain humble and open-minded. You may hear things that you weren’t expecting. Feedback can be discomforting.
Next, once you have decided the subject of your feedback, compose a question that will appeal to them. Use language that relates to their needs and interests. And be specific. You want targeted feedback.
Don’t ask, “How did I do?” ask, “How did I do with ‘x’?”, and, “What could I have done differently that would have helped you to do ‘y’ better?”
Step #2: Receive feedback positively
Make feedback from your team as easy as possible by listening, processing, and responding in a positive manner. Be willing to be told truths that may hurt you, and be prepared to ask questions to dig deeper. For example, “What would be your suggestion for me to improve ‘x’?”
Always thank your team members for their feedback. Often, people feel bad after giving feedback. This is especially true of subordinates, who may also be nervous about criticizing their boss. Saying thank you tells them that you appreciate their honesty and their feelings. It also encourages them to be more open in the future – and it makes it easier for them to accept feedback from you.
Step #3: Act on the feedback you receive
Okay, so you’ve received feedback. You’ve received it positively and said thank you. But saying thank you and then doing nothing will not help the process of building confidence. There’s a difference between feedback and action.
You must take action to get feedback again, which means that it will take time for progress to happen. You must show that:
You are focused on developing and embedding the feedback you have received in how you lead your team
That the feedback means something to you and is not something you are doing because the leadership textbook said you should
You believe in feedback as a tool for improvement
When you change what you do because of the feedback you receive, you build a foundation of trust within your business. People will see that you are genuine and that you have an authentic desire to improve your own performance. It also makes it easier for you to give feedback to your team.
Step #4: Don’t forget to reciprocate
Feedback is a two-way street. If you select someone to receive feedback from, you should give them the same in return. This helps them improve their performance and build better relationships.
If you don’t, you risk running into a situation where everyone is unhappy, and no one respects your leadership – even if you are doing all they have asked of you in their feedback to you.
Encourage your people to ask you for feedback, and demonstrate how they should respond by following the steps I’ve outlined here.
Feedback is a lot like a mirror
Feedback reflects what you have done well and what you have done not so well. It can be difficult to hear and accept. It is not always easy to see the good in negative feedback. It can be hard to hear that we are doing something we should change, but it’s important for us to do so.
Listen to the feedback you receive. Make changes where necessary, and use the change as an opportunity for growth and improvement. When you build a feedback culture and encourage continuous feedback loops, your confidence as a leader will grow. The confidence of your team will follow.
A mirror gives you the opportunity to change your appearance. You can change the way you set your hair. Tilt your cap a little differently. Change your whole outfit. Do whatever it takes to be your best.
Team feedback is the mirror of your leadership. It gives you the opportunity to learn about your strengths and weaknesses, and to alter how you lead your team. Ask for feedback. Receive it positively. Act on it. Reciprocate. Do these four things, and your confidence as a leader will grow.
To learn more about building your self-confidence as the leader of a creative agency, watch my new ‘Consistent Confidence’ webinar.