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How to Get Feedback When You’re the Boss

| August 7, 2012

by Jim Bruce

Today’s reading is “How to Get Feedback When You’re the Bossand is from Amy Gallo’s pen.  She is a contributing editor at the Harvard Business Review.

Gallo observes that as you move up in an organization you receive less constructive feedback on your ideas, performance and strategy.  The point is no one wants to offend the boss so they fear giving it.  Yet without that feedback your development will suffer.

So, what do you do:

1.  Acknowledge the fear.  Set the stage by acknowledging that everyone, including yourself, can be better and explain that for you to get better you need their feedback

2.  Ask for it constantly.  Everyone needs to be collecting information constantly.  “You know my goals, what can I do to better to achieve these goals?

3.  Request examples.  When you do get feedback, always ask for examples.  This enables a better understanding of what you heard and reduces your need to make assumptions.

4.  Read between the lines.  Often you’ll have to figure out the problem underlying the behaviors your respondents observe.  To do this, you may want to ask others who have observed you for feedback.  This may give you the data you need.  Also, as you increase your understanding of your problem(s), you can become more specific in the questions you ask.

5.  Act on it.  Thank people for their feedback.  Show that you receive the feedback and let them see through changes you make in your actions.

6.  Find a few trusted people.  It is always good to have a truth-teller;  someone who always tells you the whole truth and knows that there will never be consequences.

7.  Start anonymously.  If people will not open up, it may be worthwhile to do a 360 review, or have a coach interview your team to gather feedback anonymously.  

Do follow Amy Gallo’s advice and actively and regularly seek meaningful feedback.  You might set a goal of seeking meaningful feedback two or three times each week.  I believe that it would make a surprising difference.  And, in addition you will set an example that should encourage others to seek feedback on their performance.


.  .  .  .     jim