Successful leaders strive to become more effective at communication skills, team-building and other key business practices. One of the most important aspects of leadership that incorporates these skills is feedback. Feedback is a way for employees to keep an open line of communication between a leader and their team.
Good feedback can improve team building and the sense of community. When employees understand what they are doing well and what they need to improve on, they have an opportunity to improve their conduct and the organization’s overall productivity. There are several ways that leaders can improve the feedback cycle.
1. Make Feedback the Norm in the Workplace
In many organizations, giving and receiving feedback can feel uncomfortable. Alternatively, those giving feedback worry that employees will not receive it well. Alternatively, those receiving feedback often feel the need to defend themselves if they have had negative experiences with feedback. Creating a workplace environment that focuses on feedback as a positive part of the organization can help leaders establish a highly-motivated workforce.
By building an environment where feedback in the workplace is given and received respectfully, your employees may be encouraged to work closely with their team and improve any deficiencies in their working habits. This can introduce innovation and new ideas because the team is not afraid to admit mistakes and learn from them.
2. Ask for Feedback
When leaders ask for employee feedback, they show vulnerability. This practice encourages an honest and safe workplace. By setting an example and working to incorporate feedback from employees, leaders can model what it means to receive feedback and adjust to it. A leader who asks for feedback demonstrates humility and the ability to listen and genuinely work with their employees.
Asking for feedback as a leader can build employee confidence. However, leaders need to learn how to ask for feedback skillfully. Simply asking generic questions like, “What feedback do you have?” will lead to generic responses.
Leaders should ask specific questions about certain areas of their work. For example, a leader might ask if employees are clear on procedures for online communication or if they were clear when they shared a strategy at a meeting or if their employees notice them interrupting people in meetings. Leaders should focus heavily on negative feedback since much of their good work can be directly seen in a well-structured workplace. However, positive feedback lets leaders know that they are doing well in a given area.
3. Teach Your Employees How to Receive Feedback
Employees who have had negative experiences with feedback may be fearful of receiving it. To normalize feedback as an ordinary part of the workplace, a leader needs to train their employees on how to receive feedback about public speaking and other workplace responsibilities.
This includes teaching them to listen and give their full attention to what is being said. That means they should not be distracted by phones, laptops or impending meetings. They should also learn to not defend themselves when receiving respectful feedback. The point is to be self-aware and notice the tendency to be defensive.
When an employee reacts defensively, it decreases the likelihood of a leader or coworker offering feedback in the future. Therefore, leaders should encourage employees to accept feedback without internalizing it as a personal criticism. Leaders can model appropriate reactions by receiving feedback with gratitude.
Also, leaders may ask for feedback from the group about their collective knowledge and how they would handle challenging scenarios. They might ask open-ended questions about what the team thinks would happen if they encountered a certain type of project or if employees had to take on an absent employee’s responsibilities. This open-ended feedback helps employees feel comfortable when providing information because it does not relate to the personal performance of any one member on the team.
Budding and experienced leaders can develop and master leadership skills with a communications degree at Grand Canyon University. Our Master of Science in Leadership and Master of Arts in Communications degree programs combine business skills with the practice of servant leadership, allowing students to develop their written and verbal communication, team building and ethical decision-making. To learn more about the Colangelo College of Business, visit our website or click on the Request Information button at the top of this page.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.