Feedback is one of the most powerful leadership tools we can use in leading our team. Why? Because giving and receiving feedback promotes communication, respect, ownership, accountability and effectiveness – all critical to a successful performance in your business. So why don’t leaders use this powerful tool more often?
Here are the six most common reasons (actually excuses!) why leaders dodge their responsibilities to provide effective feedback:
Excuse #1: “Why should I?”
Leaders often are reluctant to give what we call reinforcing feedback – encouragement and recognition of a job well done. They frequently say their team members should know that if they are still employed, they are doing well. But the truth is that all of us need to know how we are doing and, if we are doing well, what is working so that we can learn to repeat excellence.
Excuse #2: “No news is good news.”
Often, we tend to say nothing unless the news is negative. This creates uncertainty and anxiety for team members. It’s important to stay connected with our colleagues and let them know where they stand – highlighting both the bad and the good!
Excuse #3 “I don’t like confrontation.”
When we seek to change negative behavior or performance, we should offer what we call redirecting feedback. That is a fact-based review of performance that is off target and a constructive discussion about changes that a team member should make to improve his or her performance. Instead of a combative approach, it as a collaborative conversation designed to lead to meaningful change. Our goal is always to forge a solid and positive relationship, helping employees grow and improve performance.
Excuse #4: “I tried it and it doesn’t work.”
Offering feedback itself is rarely a mistake. When our efforts to give feedback backfire, it usually signals we need to rework our approach to offering it.
Excuse #5: “I don’t know how.”
Ignorance is no excuse. Learning to give feedback is a learned – and critical – leadership skill.
Excuse #6: “If I wait long enough, maybe the problem will go away.”
Don’t kid yourself! We must proactively address issues to solve them. If we put off our responsibility to provide constructive feedback, the issues often grow into much more difficult problems. Address tough problems head on as early as possible. We will be more effective leaders if we do.
To become strong leaders, it is essential that we learn how to give feedback effectively. To cultivate an open and honest climate with team members requires that we have specific two-way conversations about performance and clearly define the behaviors we want to see in the future.
For more on feedback, click here to read “Feedback: The Breakfast of Champions” (12/17/14).