One of the most important jobs of every leader is to create an environment where feedback is not only welcomed, but also sought out. Organizations can quickly stagnate and get passed by if they are not constantly finding new and better ways of doing things. And the only way to find those things is to uncover them through feedback.
This is an easily understood concept, but it can be much harder to implement. Most employees are wary to give their real feedback to the people who control their salaries. There is a natural divide that forms in every company between management and employees. It’s often said that the last time a CEO really heard the truth about their company was the day before they became CEO.
So if your people are reluctant to give you feedback, whether it’s about another team, or an outdated company policy, or your performance as a manager, what can you do?
The solution is two-fold. You have to keep asking. And you have to celebrate lessons learned.
Even if you feel as though you’ve asked a million times and gotten nothing in return, you have to keep asking for feedback, any and all feedback. It might feel like pulling teeth at times, but you have to demonstrate that you value feedback and, whenever possible, that feedback will be acted upon. It will take quite a few iterations of this for your employees to really trust the process and start sharing.
The other aspect of creating a culture of feedback is to start celebrating the mistakes and hiccups along the way. Every time you hit a speed bump it is an opportunity to grow and learn, which should be celebrated. By only celebrating the good things that happen at the office, the easy wins, you unintentionally teach your employees to only bring you good news. If you make sure to celebrate each of those harder fought wins, as well as the process it took to get there, you’ll show your team that you are eager to learn from mistakes and aren’t afraid to hear bad news. They’ll be more likely to point out areas of improvement if they know you’re already looking for those yourself.