The most critical mistake leaders make is that they don’t give their team members nearly enough feedback!
Hmmm, I’m wondering…if this is the most critical mistake leaders make, is it a trap that you fall in to?
During 360-degree feedback interviews, when I ask “Where could your leader be better aligned with an exemplary leader?” I’m frequently told that their boss doesn’t give them nearly enough feedback.
Actually I can think of only a handful of leaders who, readily and regularly, acknowledge their team members for their good work. And I can think of even fewer who comfortably and promptly communicate with their team members about what they’d like to see done differently.
Recently a friend described to me what happened when she first moved into her General Management role. She wasn’t getting sufficient feedback from her boss and was unsure about how well she was performing. When she asked her boss if he could give her some feedback, she was told “That’s pathetic. Of course I’ll tell you if I don’t think you’re on track. Isn’t that enough?”
(I promise you, this is a true story!)
Let’s look at what’s really going on here…
When someone takes the time and makes an effort to give you feedback, it tells you something about them doesn’t it? It tells you that they care enough about you to invest time in supporting you to do your very best. And does the reverse apply too?
Yes, I think so!
What are The Costs of Insufficient Feedback?
When I ask team members about the consequences of insufficient feedback, they say something like:
- “It’s discouraging and de-motivating to hear nothing about how well I’m doing. I don’t mind if I get positive or negative feedback, any feedback would be great. I’d like to know how I’m going so I can do things differently if I need to.”
- “I have to guess at what I’m doing effectively and less effectively. And I’m certain I don’t always guess correctly. That doesn’t put me in a good position to be more effective, or to get a good performance review.”
- “I actually find it insulting that my boss doesn’t make an effort to give me feedback. Does he feel uncomfortable about having that sort of conversation, or can’t he be bothered?”
Before you jump to conclusions about how precious these team members are being, let me assure you these responses are very common from even the most confident, effective performers.
Here’s why not giving enough feedback is THE most critical mistake leaders make…
Essentially, what we’re talking about is whether or not you’re motivating discretionary effort.
If you want your team members to consistently perform well—plus put in that extra effort when required, then they need to feel good about themselves and about their job, and about you as their leader.
They don’t usually let on, but your team members care deeply about how you perceive them and their performance.
When you don’t tell them what they’re doing that you’re pleased about, and what you think could be enhanced, they put their own meaning on what you think and feel about their work.
And do you think their interpretation of the situation will be useful or harmful?
When people are in a feedback-vacuum they generally view this darkly and as a result their motivation for discretionary effort takes a big hit.
Your Leadership Call to Action
Are you prepared to do an audit on whether or not you’re giving your team members enough feedback?
OK, if you’re up for it, here’s your call to action:
Ask each of your team members individually, “If I were to give you more feedback, what would you like more feedback on?”
That’s no so difficult is it?
Let me know what you discover. I love to get your feedback!
Stay tuned for your next bulletin – it’s about the second most critical mistake leaders make. Don’t miss it!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.