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6 Secrets To Master Getting Feedback For Managers and Leaders — Part 2

Feedback is an essential part of performance. In my previous blog about giving feedback I explain why it’s so important for managers and leaders to give feedback. In this blog I’ll explain why it’s so important for managers and leaders to get feedback. Here’s my 6 tips for getting feedback.

#1. Feedback Is A Gift

I had a client ask me “How do I NOT take feedback personally?”. My answer was simple — “feedback is a gift”. Let me say that again — “feedback is a gift”. In business and in life attitude is everything and if your attitude about feedback is that it’s a criticism, that’s how it will show up for you and it won’t be of any use to you. But if your attitude is that feedback is a gift, then feedback will be something you can use to your advantage!

#2. It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

When you get negative feedback it’s hard to hear it for what it is. For example, when my client got feedback that he was a “micro-manager” the reason this feedback felt so personal was because what he heard in the feedback was that he was a “bad manager” or “not good at his job”. And that’s not what the feedback meant. Feedback is personal because it relates too you, but it’s not about if you’re good or not, it’s about receiving information in relationship to your performance or your results. So hearing that you’re a “micro-manager” does not mean you’re a bad manager, it just gives you information about where to go to work on taking your management to the next level. It’s like a hockey coach telling his star player that he needs to focus on getting in front of the net more often. This feedback from the coach doesn’t mean the hockey player is a bad player, it just tells the player what to focus on to up his game. So, when you get negative feedback know it’s just information that can help you up your game.

#3. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

In one of my fav business books, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, Marshall Goldsmith writes about how whatever got you to this level of success will not be the same thing that gets you to the next level of success. I have seen this over and over and over again with many leaders. They get stuck because they’ve fallen into the trap of relying on their past strengths and it starts limit their results. Feedback is a very effective way to avoid this trap because feedback is always related to current performance, not past performance. Feedback tells you what you need to focus on for where you are right now.

#4. Be Proactive

One of the biggest issues for managers and leaders is that as they move up the “food chain” in their career they tend to get less and less feedback and this slows down their professional growth and starts to create an avoidance to feedback. To prevent this from happening you have to proactively seek feedback and make sure you get honest feedback. The best way to do this is through both structured and unstructured feedback. Structured feedback can include regular anonymous feedback from your colleagues, subordinates and those above you — a great way to do this is through a 360 Review. Another way to get feedback is through a less structured approach, like just asking more questions to as many people as possible (don’t limit yourself to just your subordinates or your boss). Try out these questions to start getting some valuable feedback:

  • What can I dial up?
  • What can I dial down?
  • What can you rely on me for?
  • What does everyone know about me?
  • What would everyone say about me if I wasn’t in the room?
  • What’s your experience of me? / Working with me? / Working for me?
  • What’s the one thing I could have done better in that meeting/week/month?
  • Follow each of these questions with “Tell me more about that?” / “Can you give me a specific example?”

#5. Use Feedback To Build Trust

One of the best talks I’ve watched in a long time is Brene Brown’s “The Anatomy of Trust”.

In her talk, Brene Brown explains about how we trust people who have integrity. She defines integrity as choosing courage over comfort; doing what’s right over what’s fun, fast and easy; and practicing values not professing them. Thus, when leaders stop getting feedback and stop seeking feedback they start to loose the trust of their teams because they’re being comfortable, they’re doing what’s easy, and they’re not practicing the values of leadership (see my post on ‘Leaders go first‘).

#6. Follow Up On Feedback

Last, but certainly not least, once you get feedback you have to follow up on it. Meaning, you have to take action on the feedback and circle back to the person who you the feedback and let them know the action(s) you’re taking in regards to his or her feedback. There is no point in putting effort in to getting feedback if you’re not going to use it — that’s like paying for a gym membership and never going. Plus, you will further diminish people’s trust in you if they provide you feedback and never see that you’ve taken it into account in an actionable and accountable way.

Want to take your leadership to the next level?

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1 comment on “6 Secrets To Master Giving Feedback For Managers and Leaders — Part 1”

6 Secrets To Master Giving Feedback For Managers and Leaders — Part 1


Giving feedback is an area where many good leaders and managers fail. I’ve heard many top employees complain that they don’t get any feedback — really that’s what they are complaining about?! The truth is that millennials are one of the hardest working, most passionate and most open generations in the work force. Millennials grew up in a time where following their passion was possible, where being open and vulnerable (think social media) was a virtue, where immediate feedback was everywhere (think internet, texting and social media) and personal development was a way of life (think Oprah, Tony Robbins, Dr. Phil). So, if you are going to successfully manage millennials you’re going to want to master feedback because they are expecting it and they’ll use it! Here’s my 6 secrets to being great at giving feedback.

#1. Feedback Is Your Job

Feedback is your job. Feedback lets your team members know how they’re doing. Imagine a basketball coach that focused only on the vision of winning the championship and the task of running drills and playing games, but never gave his or her players any feedback on what they were doing well and were they needed to improve. Not only would that be super weird, it would make for a very ineffective coach and if not incompetent coach. Giving feedback is your job! If you’re not giving feedback all the time, you’re the coach who’s is team running drills and playing games with no coaching.

#2. Feedback Is Both Positive and Negative

If you’re like me I cringe at the thought of feedback. “I have some feedback for you” causes my stomach to clench the same way as “come to my office” and “we have to talk”. But, feedback is not all negative. Feedback is about giving information in relationship to results. Your team members need to know both where they’re doing well and where they’re not doing well to perform at their best. If you’re only providing negative feedback, you’re only giving half the coaching and leadership.

#3. Feedback Is Not Motivation

Lots of leaders dole out the motivational phrases like “good job”, “you’re doing great”, “keep up the good work”, but, this is not feedback. For feedback to have any value (and register as feedback) it must be specific. Feedback must give the details of what worked and what didn’t work — think about a coaching helping Michael Jordon with his free throw. If the coach says “That was good, do it again.”, it doesn’t give Michael Jordan any information on what worked and what to focus on to get even better. But, if the coach says “The follow-through with your wrist was perfect, now focus on following-through all the way to your finger tips.”, this is feedback Michael Jordan can use to improve his performance. You need to provide specific feedback about what’s working and what’s not working so your team members know exactly what to keep doing and what to go to work on.

#4. Structured And Unstructured Feedback Is Required

Most leaders and companies I know do put in a lot of effort to provide feedback in an annual type of review. This is a good place to start and it’s not enough. Feedback is like sports (if you didn’t get that from my previous basketball analogy). Coaches need to give feedback in the pre-season training camp, in weekly practice and during the game. Saving up all your feedback for an annual review makes the feedback too weighted, too late and too general. When you save all your feedback for annual review you often end up watering down the feedback. It’s also too long after the event to remember significant details that make the feedback valuable. Plus, it doesn’t give your team member any game-time feedback to help them win the game. It’s like telling them the score after the game is over and telling them they should have tried harder when they didn’t even know they were losing.

#5.  Feedback Does Not Always Have To Be a Sh** Sandwich

A common mistake the best leaders make is always giving feedback in the form of a sh** sandwich — that is sandwiching negative feedback between positive feedback. The reason it doesn’t work is that the message is so unclear. So the team member is confused about what’s really going on with their performance. However, if a coach tells her player to increase their sprint speed by 20%, the player is super clear what part of his performance he needs to focus on. And when the player improves and the coach acknowledges his diligence and improvement that’s clear too. Don’t diminish good and bad feedback by sandwiching them together.

#6. Feedback Is A Skill

Feedback is a skill. It is not something that comes naturally to most people. So you really need to focus on it if you want to become good at it. The good news is that it gets easier with time and there are a lot of great resources to help you (eckhem, like this blog). It is worth spending some time and energy learning more about giving feedback and growing your capacity in that area. Your career, success and everyone that works with you with thank you. And to make your job a little easier here are some great sentence starters for giving feedback:

  • I’m grateful for…
  • I admire you for your…
  • Because I care about your success may I recommend…
  • I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.
  • Can you dial up…
  • Can you dial down…

Contact me for a free consultation — Ninja Style!

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3 Top Mistakes Executives Make And How A Business Coach Can Help

One thing that your executive and small business coach knows for sure is that most executive mistakes and foibles are not unique — in fact they are very common. This is good news because it means you’re not flawed, you’re just dealing with the same issues that all CEOs, executives and managers are dealing with and that your business coach can help! Here are 3 top mistakes that executives make and how a business coach can take your performance to the next level.

Mistake #1: Continuing To Rely On Your Past Strengths

In the book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, Marshall Goldsmith explains how the strengths that made you successful at the previous stage of your career, likely won’t be what will make you successful at the next stage of your career. For example, you might have been a rock-star employee that is known for coming up with all sorts of new and exciting ideas — some of which turned out to be good ideas. And because of your ingenuity you got promoted to a management position where you continue to come up with new and exciting ideas, as that’s what you’re good at and what got you the promotion. However, as a manager being an “idea generator” might not be the quality needed for success at that level. As a manager, being an “idea generator” might cause issues with your team as they could feel overwhelmed with all your ideas or they could feel that you don’t provide them with the opportunity to generates. You might also be also be missing other management issues that should be your focus such as resolving interpersonal issues on your team, securing needed resources for your department, or improving interdepartmental relationships — because you’re focusing too much on what you used to do. Thus, you need to develop and employ a completely different set of skills every time you “level-up”.



How A Business Coach Can Help: A business coach can provide you with new tools and strategies that will help you develop the skills needed to be successful at each stage of your career or business success.

Mistake #2: You Stop Creating the Next Level

Early in your career or business there are lots of opportunities to advance and the path to this progression is clear.  However, as your career or your business advances you will likely land in a position where the next level isn’t as obvious or as readily available — you might be a director, VP, or CEO for a long time before you “level-up” again. Having the same position for the long-term often creates stagnation in personal growth and learning and slows down our “opportunity radar” in this position. Just because the position per say doesn’t change, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be looking to level-up in that position — this is a very common problem for CEOs and senior managers.

How A Business Coach Can Help: A business coach can help you keep pushing, growing and transforming your current position so that you’re better prepared for the next step and so that the people under you can continue to expand as you do.

Mistake #3: Stop Getting Feedback

Early in your career or business feedback is inevitable — you get it whether you solicit it or not. And in the beginning you often seek it as you’re hungry to find out where there’s gaps in your performance so that you can improve and get better results — after all you have nothing to lose! However, as you become more successful in your career or business the feedback lessens usually because there are less people to give it to you (you’re close to the top of the “food chain”) and your amphibian brain kicks in, creating that you now have something to lose (ego, pride, strength, security) so you inadvertently stop seeking feedback. Feedback is key not only to continually improving performance, but it is also a key part of power and influence. Leaders that continue to seek and accept feedback are more trusted, more skilled, more respected and thus more powerful and influential.

How A Business Coach Can Help: A business coach can help by being an unfiltered, unconstrained, objective source of feedback so you can create bigger and better results and continue to grow your authentic power and influence.  Furthermore, a business coach helps you be accountable to that feedback once you get it.

Contact me for a free consultation — ninja style!