In last month’s episode, we talked about craving useful feedback and three factors that matter when you’re receiving it. This month, let’s talk about three factors that matter when you’re giving feedback.
1.When you give feedback. For some organizations, the most common time for feedback is during the annual performance review—but that’s often way too late. Your biggest win is to make immediate feedback the norm.
Of course, you’ll also want to make sure your feedback will be received well, so giving feedback to a team member while a mistake is still fresh might not be the best time. Other times, public feedback might be the way to go, to let everyone know a problem has been addressed. Learning the right timing takes some finesse.
2.How you give feedback. Start by defining clearly what’s happening and not happening. Create a climate of safety around what’s not happening. Show kindness.
Think of feedback in two categories: appreciation and coaching. Separate the two when you can. Appreciation should be a regular part of your culture! Many employees just want to know that their leader notices them—you can’t just assume they know. When you think something kind, say it. Any time you can show appreciation without coaching, do it!
On the other hand, when you’re coaching, try to focus on one or two of the more important areas and start there. Tell the truth, and don’t tell them the areas they’re poor in without being specific on how they can improve. Remember to separate intention from impact. It’s rare that a team member intentionally does something to hurt the organization, so instead, show the team member how their actions or inactions directly or indirectly hurt the people they work with.
3.Who gives feedback. If you’re receiving feedback and you don’t respect the giver, it’s going to be difficult for you to accept that feedback. But remember—they have a different perspective than you do. Where they sit determines what they see. One of the most important things you can do as a leader is set the tone.
Seek out feedback! The higher you rise, the harder you have to work and the closer you have to listen to find the truth.
Remember, you don’t have to know it all to be a great leader! Be yourself. People would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.
Here's an exercise you can do to grow as a leader—ask your team these questions:
- Has your unwillingness to give honest feedback robbed a team member from an opportunity to grow? Be honest about why you haven’t given the feedback.
- Which words would your team members use to describe your feedback? Ask yourself first, then ask your team and see what they say.
- What is your top takeaway from this episode that you will implement on giving or receiving feedback?
Have a question for Craig? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Would you describe for me the first 60-90 minutes of your ideal morning? What non-negotiable decisions have you made beforehand to launch your day in the ideal direction? – Stephen
I like to get up early. I have an alarm set, but it rarely ever goes off. I have the same routine daily. I drink a protein shake, make oatmeal with a few blueberries, do my devotional time, and read a couple of news apps.
I’m usually the first one in the office to plan the day. I probably haven’t done a breakfast meeting in 7 or 8 years. I try not to do meetings in the morning. Mornings in the office are for creating and writing.
At what point do you keep some things a secret, or do you not at all? I find that there are some issues that we keep in upper leadership, but I think it causes frustration with the folks I manage. I’m not sure where the balance is between telling all and using wisdom on what to tell (or not). – Nicole
Transparency builds trust. As often as we can, we want to lead with transparency. Truth also builds trust. Everything you say should be true—but not everything true should be said.
So instead of using the word “secret,” let’s lean toward using words like “discretion” or “confidential.” If something cannot be easily understood by the whole team, it’s confidential. If you have a reason to hold information for later, keep it confidential.
One of the places I think many organizations make mistakes is when it comes to team members transitioning off of the team. You’ll always want to well to tell the most loving version of the truth.
- “She wasn’t in right spot. We tried make it work, but in the end we made a change.”
- “We appreciate him, but it became clear that we had different values. Since we all were not on the same page, we decided to make a change.”
- In the church, sometimes we need to be open about why a person in a very visible position is transitioning off the team. Honesty is important. “We have standards for pastors on our staff. He was unfaithful in his marriage, and that doesn’t live up to those standards. We gave a six-month severance and are paying for counseling, and we will do everything we can to help their family heal.”
When we are consistently and generally transparent, most people will understand that some details need to be kept to a smaller circle. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. Use wisdom and lead strong.
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