Ever wondered how to truly grow as a leader? It starts with feedback!

A Master Vistage Chair recently told me that she regularly seeks constructive feedback. This comment gave me pause, and I had to ask myself:

  • Do I seek constructive feedback?
  • How do people know I want their feedback?
  • What needs to happen for them to feel comfortable providing good, constructive feedback?   

Honestly, asking for feedback is frightening. When you find yourself in the driver’s seat, moving forward without pausing enough to see the impact actions and words cause in the wake is all too common.   

Take this as a wake-up call. It’s time to adopt a different mindset on feedback—a mindset that’s essential to growing and becoming the best version of yourself.

It can be difficult to get candid, honest feedback when sitting in the CEO’s chair. How do we create a space to get feedback on the company, our behavior, and our teams? More importantly, how do we receive feedback and act on it?

The feedback disconnect:

A recent Gallup poll of managers and individual contributors asked about their perspectives on the quality of the feedback between them. There was a 19-point gap between individuals—who rated it at 50%—and managers—who assessed themselves at 69%.  Furthermore, when asked if they had received meaningful feedback in the last week, the responses ranged from 20-28%.  Studies have shown that frequent, quality feedback increases employee engagement exponentially.

Clearly, we, as CEOs and business leaders, have some work to do.

Let’s start with the basics of receiving feedback:

Foster a culture of openness and trust: Communicate often that employees know their opinions are valued and that giving honest feedback will have no negative repercussions. Then, lead by example. 

Demonstrate openness by actively seeking constructive feedback yourself and showing appreciation for it. If you need to put a reminder on your calendar to ask for feedback, start there. 

Share past experiences with feedback and how you’ve dealt with it to help others feel more comfortable. 

Provide multiple avenues for feedback: Offer various ways for employees to give feedback, such as one-on-one meetings, suggestion boxes, online platforms, and feedback committees. 

Ensure that these channels are easily accessible and well-communicated to all employees. Having multiple options allows employees to choose the method that is most comfortable for them.

Act on feedback: Show responsiveness by implementing feasible changes and communicating broadly what actions are taken based on feedback. Additionally, follow up individually with employees to let them know how their feedback has influenced decisions and improvements. Closing the feedback loop demonstrates to individuals and the team at large that their input is valued and taken seriously, supporting a culture of openness and trust.

Conduct a feedback training session

I have found that conducting training for a new feedback process improves overall communication, as well as the effectiveness of giving and receiving feedback. Role-playing, practice, and regular evaluation of the process will increase the longevity of a commitment to open and honest feedback.  

In my next article, I will explore the practice of giving quality feedback, but to start, creating a culture of openness and trust and emphasizing its importance should be your first priority.

Take the next steps

At 4A Ventures, we provide the advice, access, accountability, and action you need to turn your long-term goals into an actionable, offensive strategy. Take the next step and transform how you view feedback and create an environment where honest, constructive feedback flows freely.