An interview with Anna Carroll, MSSW, author of The Feedback Imperative
Linda: What do leaders’ find the most challenging about getting feedback?
Anna: By far, the greatest challenge for everybody in the organization (not just leaders) is not getting enough frequent, honest feedback that will help you learn and improve.
Linda: How can leaders get more feedback?
Anna: Ask for feedback every day and every way you can—as you work with people on specific goals. The counter-intuitive truth here is that the more feedback you collect on a more frequent basis, the easier the feedback is to understand and apply.
Maybe best of all, your team members will trust you more and be way more open to receiving the feedback you provide to them. They will see you as a great role model for the value of exchanging helpful feedback.
Linda: How should a manager respond to feedback ?
Anna: First, avoid being defensive or arguing with people who may have made some of the comments. Why? If they hear defensiveness in your voice, they will be very reluctant to be open with you in the future and they will see you as insecure and closed to their suggestions.
Thank people for giving you feedback . Believe it or not, most employees want to help you become a better leader and it took some effort and courage for them to share their thoughts—no matter how off-base you may perceive them.
If you can find something you’re willing to act on, change your behavior in very visible ways. This will win over the hearts and minds of your team members and improve your leadership impact.
Linda: But what if the manager doesn’t agree with the feedback?
Anna: Stay in a curious, open mindset and continue to clarify what they are saying and look for the truth you can use within the message. For instance, if someone tells you that you are a micromanager, ask them more about how they would prefer you to work with them. If they don’t want you to meet and question them so often, find a way to ensure quality and teach them through checklists or other tools.
If there is a business reason why you can’t act on their exact feedback, acknowledge the concern and show appreciation for their raising the issue.
Before talking with the feedback-givers you don’t agree with, prepare yourself by making a list of positive thoughts you’d like to convey in your upcoming conversation. This will get you in a good mindset and help you respond positively.
Linda: So, Anna, what’s your bottom line in all this?
Anna: feedback is a good thing. You need more of it and you can almost always benefit from it.
Linda: I really hope leaders will head your advice, Anna. Your book offers much more depth and lots of examples for leaders who want to pursue this.
The Feedback Imperative by Anna Carroll