One of the most common concerns I hear from leaders, especially at the executive level is, “I never get any feedback from my boss.” Clients tell me if they get a performance review, it’s via e-mail and if they are lucky they have a quick conversation about it. It is an annual “non-event” versus what it should be: an ongoing conversation about how you are doing against expectations and ideas for how you can develop and grow.
I have worked with a CEO for the last 8 years who I know does a rigorous job providing ongoing performance feedback to his team. His efforts cascade to his next level and their next level so he role models what he wants to see throughout his organization. He is not the norm. There are many reasons for this. One is that it takes planning time and that is in short supply for many leaders today. The other is that it can feel like a conflict if the feedback is perceived as negative and delivering it can be very uncomfortable for some leaders. Though there are no real excuses for leaders to not provide timely, valuable and actionable feedback to direct reports, it is easy to understand why they don’t. But it is far too important to employee development and engagement to write off. So my recommendation is to make it easy for others to give you feedback.
To do this you have to create an environment and experience that makes it more likely others will want to give you feedback. Here is what I recommend:
“One thing I am working on is being more collaborative in meetings. I tend to push my agenda and forge ahead due to time constraints. I am working on being more patient in meetings and interactions, asking open-ended questions, listening more fully to others and demonstrating through my presence that I value their input.”
“I would appreciate if with important meetings, we meet for 5 minutes directly after so that I can hear your feedback on how I did on my development goal. Honest, specific feedback about what you observed, both positive and constructive, is what I need from you.”
Then follow through after a few meetings where you both have time. How you receive that feedback will determine if the experience is positive and more likely to be something the feedback provider will want to repeat. So your responsibility is to make sure your presence is signaling that you are ready to listen and receive what they say. You do not need to do anything at this point. You only need to relax, listen and finish with a heartfelt appreciation for their willingness to take the time to share their observations. Then make sure that there is a return on the investment by putting the feedback to good use at the next opportunity.
Feedback is vital to continuous improvement. Each time a leader gives you feedback, it is an investment of their knowledge, time and care. Each time you receive feedback, it is an opportunity to expand your awareness and become more skillful. If you aren’t getting the feedback you need from important stakeholders, maybe you need to make it easier.
Welcome to Moira's blog. I write a (mostly) monthly post about the work of building better work places: people strategies, systems, teams and leaders.