Managers need feedback from their team members in order to do a better job of providing clear direction, solving problems, giving feedback, and getting the job done.
But it’s not easy for employees to critique their boss. Here are 6 ways that you can help your employees provide you with the feedback you need.
First, provide options for anonymous feedback. No matter how you present your desire for feedback, some people are going to be afraid to tell their manager that she’s doing a poor job. To ensure anonymity, you can provide an online feedback forum or an old-fashioned suggestion box. Once employees see that you’re reading and responding to anonymous feedback, they may gain the courage to talk with you directly.
Second, let employees know you value feedback. Ask for feedback on a regular basis, at staff meetings and other team gatherings. Respond to feedback in a public setting, reading aloud suggestions without mentioning names, and explaining why you value the input and how you intend to respond.
Next, model appropriate feedback. When you give feedback, show how it can be done both formally and informally, without being threatening or offensive. Praise work immediately when it’s well done, and speak to employees with problems in private. Focus on the problem rather than the person, saying, for example,“I noticed that you were late for the meeting again this morning,” rather than “You’re incredibly unpunctual!”
Fourth, institute a “no retribution” policy. Many employees assume that if they give negative feedback to a manager, they’ll be punished. Creating a formal “no retribution” policy can help to reassure employees, while also holding managers accountable.
Fifth, ask for details. When an employee offers feedback, it may be very general. For example, you might hear “You should give more direction,” or “You always seem angry.” When you hear this type of feedback, it’s important to ask for details. For example, you might ask,“What kind of direction would help you with this particular project?” or “What is it about my behavior that makes you feel that I’m angry?”
Finally, think about your response to feedback before acting on it. No one likes to hear negative feedback, including managers – and it’s really easy to become defensive. Instead of leaping to explain or defend yourself, thank the employee for his or her thoughts and set the information aside. Then, when you have time, think about what was said. If your employees are upset, it’s more important to understand and fix the problem than it is to defend your motivations or actions.
When you’re the boss, feedback from your team is absolutely critical. It’s up to you to create a safe and responsive environment so that employees can offer their thoughts about your performance without fear – and with the expectation of being heard.
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