Tools for Receiving Feedback
As the leadership of the company, it is important that you know not only how to give feedback, but how to receive. The goal of any successful business should be to consistently pursue growth. We cannot have growth without good feedback. Not even the most successful CEO has the perfect business, there is always room to learn and improve, which means that you as the leader, have to remain teachable, regardless of how far your business goes. Part of remaining teachable is knowing how to accept and apply feedback in a way that is both healthy and effective. Here are some tips to help you in your feedback process:
1. Change Your Perspective
The first mistake many people make, whether they are the boss or the employee, is approaching feedback from a negative perspective. Feedback can feel vulnerable and even a little intimidating, because it feels like someone is pointing out our weak spots. The important thing to remember is that feedback is a necessary tool for growth. It is not a death sentence or an opportunity for you to be put on trial.
Wanting feedback does not make you weak, it is a sign that you are a healthy leader and individual. More importantly, if your goal is to create an atmosphere where your employees are empowered by feedback, then you yourself have to view feedback as a mechanism for empowerment, not ridicule. Your attitude surrounding this, or any topic in your business, will set the standard for your employees. If they see you skirting away from or negatively reacting to feedback, they will follow suit. If you model an atmosphere where feedback is welcomed and applied, then you will see that flow into the DNA of your company.
2. Assess, Analyze, Act
So, what does it look like to receive feedback in a way that is healthy and effective? When you receive feedback, even if it might not be what you wanted to hear, you can allow it to empower you instead of disarm you. Instead of shutting down and ignoring it or getting defensive and flying off the handle, follow the three A’s: Assess, Analyze, Act.
The initial response that most of us have when someone points out a blind spot is to deny or get defensive. This will not help you or grow your company. The first thing that you are going to want to do is listen to the feedback giver and ASSESS the feedback. Ask yourself questions, “Have I noticed this behavior in myself?”, “How has it impacted me/my employees?” I find it helpful to step back and think of myself from an employer’s perspective: “If I was seeing these actions in someone else’s work, how would I feel as the boss?”, or “How would I feel working for a company where the boss did this?” Taking your feelings out of the equation for a moment will allow you to think about the issue with more clarity.
The next step is to not sit in your mistakes, but to create a plan of action that will reverse them. Running a business can get messy, because we are interacting with human beings. It's okay to make a mess, even as a leader. The mark of a good leader is one who is willing to clean up the mess. So we ANALYZE ways to improve. This can happen in a number of different ways: ask advice, re-assess your data, hold some brainstorming meetings with your team, find resources from people who are experienced in the area you are trying to improve. Once you have come up with some viable solutions, you can begin to clean up the mess.
Finally, the most important part, is to put your hands in the mess and start cleaning. You can get all the feedback and analysis in the world, but if you don’t follow through you will end up right back where you started. So, once you have done all your assessment and analysis, it’s time to ACT. Make sure that when you are executing your action plan you communicate with your team. Be upfront and honest about your mistakes, and then present them with the plan to fix them. It might be vulnerable, but it is the best way to not only regain respect, but get everyone on board. Remember, it's better to have that one awkward moment, then to disconnect and have your business suffer from a lack of communication. It can be something as simple as, “It has come to my attention that _ has been a problem. I apologize for my mistake, ____ is what I will do in the future.”
The ultimate goal is to create a culture where feedback is not only good, but desired by everyone in the company. So, it is so vital that you as the leader of the business take up space in the area of feedback. You can practice giving it or even writing down what you will say while you are in the process of mastering this form of communication. Eventually it will become second nature to you. Remember too, that it is just as important for you to receive feedback as it is to give it, so make a habit of asking for feedback often, from your staff and colleagues. If you focus on doing this with excellence, you will see a massive difference in the culture of your business.