In my twenty years of coaching senior leaders, I’m clear on the answer to the question, “What is the #1 mistake leaders make?”
Most leaders unwittingly think they’re giving their team members enough feedback. But that’s not so.
A friend who’d moved into a GM role hadn’t had feedback from her boss. She was therefore unsure about how well she was performing. When she asked her boss for feedback, he said “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!)
In tune with that, during team-member 360-feedback interviews, when I ask, “What could your boss do to be more like an exemplary leader?”, I’m consistently told that their boss doesn’t give them enough feedback.
The Costs of Insufficient Feedback
When I ask team members about the impact of them not getting enough feedback from their boss, they say:
- “I find it discouraging and de-motivating to hear nothing about my performance. 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 stand a chance of being at my best.”
- “Not getting feedback doesn’t put me in a good position to be more effective—or to get a good performance review.”
- “I 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?”
These sorts of responses are consistent, even from the most confident, effective performers.
We’re essentially talking about whether or not you’re encouraging discretionary effort.
Your team members won’t let on that they care a lot about how you perceive them and their performance. And, when the feedback’s not there, they decide that they’re not important to you. That’s when both their motivation and their discretionary effort takes a big hit.
Conversely, when you give them feedback, it tells them that you care enough to invest time in supporting them to do their best work.
Your Call to Action
If you’re one of the many leaders who aren’t giving regular feedback, you can easily turn things around…
Ask each of your team members, individually, “If I were to give you more feedback, what would you like feedback on?”
Let me know what you discover. I love getting your feedback!
My career was at a crossroad and I needed that “secret sauce” to comfortably
transition to the next level. Yes, I could read it in the leadership books. But you helped
me put it into practice. Your coaching is a perfect fit for any business leader who wants to
perform at a higher level. I have no hesitation in recommending you to my colleagues.
—Head of Risk and Regulatory, top 50 ASX listed company
About the Author:
For more than 25-years, Carolyn Stevens has helped leaders flourish and become more confident, more courageous and impressively influential (including those who’ve previously struggled to confront difficult situations, let alone persuasively deal with them).
Plus, as a personal career strategist, she specialises in helping ambitious female leaders create a reputation as an indispensable first-class leader.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She’ll draw on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit your situation.
She’s never too busy to talk to you if you’re in a hurry to boost your success. Same goes for leaders you refer.
Just email if you’d like to arrange a time to chat: firstname.lastname@example.org