How to ask for feedback from your employees on your management skills (part 2)
This is the second part of a three part series on how managers can ask for feedback on how they manage. Managers get spotty feedback on how they manage, and employees are perhaps the best source of feedback, but it can be tricky. In my previous article, I outlined how the manager can set up the conversation, in today’s article I dive deeper into the actual feedback conversation initiated by the employee. Chin up and get ready for the feedback!
1. Don’t actually recriminate
The employee gives you feedback and you don’t agree. This is kind of an obvious point, but if you don’t like what the employee says, or don’t agree with it, you now have to follow your own rules and not react negatively to what the employee has to say. Don’t be surprised, either. You asked for it, now you have to take it. Swallow your pride, no matter how much you disagree or didn’t want to hear what you just asked to hear. All of your other interactions and discussions have to be separated from this feedback. The better you can do this, the more you will create trust on your team.
2. Avoid debates
When asking for feedback, that’s what you get, feedback. If you then start to try to convince the employee that your actions are correct, and either debate or react as though the employee is wrong, you’ve just trained the employee to not give you feedback, and perhaps not share anything with you. You asked for the feedback, now take it. You don’t have to do anything differently based on the feedback if you don’t agree with it. You should take it into account, and allow this other opinion improve your decisions and approach.
3. Help the employee give feedback by setting expectations for how to give feedback
You can avoid many issues by stating what good feedback looks like: It cites specific incidents and actions. It is provided soon after the incident. It avoids value judgments and it describes behaviors, and there’s an attempt to describe what to do differently. As a short version of this, you can say, “When you give me feedback, try to focus on what I said or did, and what I should do differently.”
4. Expect the employee to give un-artful feedback
Despite the expectation-setting, remember that your employees aren’t necessarily trained on giving feedback (most managers aren’t either). So expect the feedback from your employees to be poorly given – The feedback can be vague (“It’s not really working”), general (“Things always go wrong”), and judgmental (“This is the worst place and you’re the worst manager.”). If you get un-artful feedback, don’t be surprised. Take it and try to ask for examples and actions that support the general statements and assessments.
5. Thank the employee for the feedback and state what you are going to do about it.
Always thank the employee for taking the time and having the courage to speak open and frankly in providing the feedback, even if un-artfully given. At the minimum, say that you will take it into account going forward. If you agree with the feedback, and there is actually something you plan to do differently, then express your commitment to do it.
6. Write it down
I advocate creating an employee performance log so you can remember your employee’s behaviors, track the feedback provided, and check for improvement. Well, if you’re receiving feedback from your employees, perhaps it’s time to do something similar for yourself and track what the feedback you received is, and whether there is change.
7. Actually try to adopt new behaviors
Let’s say the employee actually gives you some feedback and you actually believe it to be helpful. Demonstrate this by attempting the new behaviors. This demonstrates that you actually were serious about asking for feedback. Too many time people ask for feedback, but then never change their behaviors. Use this info and get better at what you do!
OK, that’s part 2! You’re now actually using the feedback to be a better manager. As you can see, it’s a multi-step process that isn’t necessarily easy. But considering the dearth of feedback sources for managers on how they manage, this might be a worthwhile step to take.
Have you ever received feedback from employees on how you manage? How did that conversation go?
In my next article on asking for feedback from employees, the theme is “taking it to the next level.”