July 15, 2019

How to Create a Culture of Feedback? Give More Feedback!

If you want a culture of more consciousness, start with how you are behaving. Right now.

I cannot count how often I hear leadership teams say that the one thing their employees want is more feedback.

That observation is frequently followed by a raft of strategies for teaching direct managers and directors how to give feedback. There should be training and more content. Okay. Sure. These things are fine. They're positive initiatives. But the thing leaders most often skip over is that the straightest line to ensuring more feedback in your organization is to GIVE MORE FEEDBACK. Right now. In the meeting you are blowing off while you read this.

Want more feedack? Give more feedback!
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Stop reading.

Look up and say what's true. Something like "Yo, I'm boring myself over here. Could we make this meeting more interesting by talking about X or Y or could we end the meeting and go do other things with our lives?" That statement may not be an impeccable example of Conscious Leadership or 100% Responsibility, but it's a start. It's probably honest. It probably brought you back into connection with your colleagues. That statement, itself, is feedback.

And you could go further. You could create five minutes of every one of your staff meetings and allocate it toward feedback for everyone in the room. Take turns. Spread the love. Feedback IS love. Your employees are telling you that by begging for more feedback.

Here's another idea: Give each member of your executive or functional team an opportunity to ask one question on which they want feedback, and give every other person on the team a chance (and a clear request) to provide a sentence or two of feedback. I used this recently in a Leadership Camp. My question that I chose to ask for myself (after hearing this a number of times in that group) was: "What about me do you find scary or intimidating?" The feedback was inordinately helpful.

Today, I had to give myself this advice. Someone I don't know well but admire a great deal posted something on social using the word "penultimate." It's a great word, but I find it is misused more often than it is used correctly. The word means "second to last." It does not mean "the most ultimate." It almost means the opposite. I cemented this lesson when I was a young lawyer at a fancy law firm. A partner held a summer party and handed out paper invites (it was a while back). He indicated that his home was the "penultimate house on the left side." He gave himself doses of affirmation that day by watching how many people knocked on the door of the last house on the block before realizing their error. Lovely. I know. Fancy law firms are awesome.

Anyway, I kept seeing this post, and I figured the person would want to know. But I was generally fearful about what this type of unsolicited feedback would do to our tacit quasi-friendship on Facebook. Eventually I figured if I walk around the world lauding feedback, it was my turn to do something scary. So I sent a private message. She was appreciative. She made an edit in the post.

Remember that the only way to create a culture of Conscious Leadership in your company is to exemplify Conscious Leadership as much as you can. You must walk the talk. When you hear a murmur outside a leadership team, it's a great time to check: "Hey, how are we as a team behaving with respect to this thing other people are saying about the company?"

You'll find gaps. You can change policy, hire people, launch programs. That's all positive. But first, you can start doing the behavior you seek right now.

Sue Heilbronner

Sue Heilbronner is an executive coach, Conscious Leadership facilitator, and catalyst for change.

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