Leadership: Giving and Receiving Feedback

giving and receiving feedback“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.
-Ken Blanchard

Giving and receiving feedback helps us grow both at work and in our personal lives.

At work, giving and receiving feedback  is a key part of a manager or leader’s life. And it has a significant bearing on performance outcomes, individual and team morale and the organisation culture.

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At work, some examples of when feedback to team members or peers is required include – not keeping agreements, making cynical comments to suggestions in meetings, not delivering on time, putting the company down,  the blame approach that “it’s always someone else’s fault”  and or not living the company’s values.

Unaddressed, negative behaviour and attitudes become more pervasive, entrenched and toxic with time.

All these behaviours become a hindrance to good working relationships and performance as well as being a potential career breaker.

Unfortunately though, living and receiving feedback is something that we aren’t naturally good at. Whether at work or home, sometimes it feels easier to ignore, avoid or minimise than to have the needed conversation.

However, when what is present but not addressed quickly becomes the “pink elephant” ignored by both parties in a silent collusion, yet hugely invasive. Both relationships and results begins to suffer.

As the saying goes, “whatever we resist, persists!”

A self-check

How comfortable and safe do you feel in communicating your thoughts and feelings with those you work with closely, including your boss?

If we avoid for too long,  sooner or later we will get triggered  – words bubble out of our mouths in inappropriate ways and at most inopportune moments.  You  can probably think of a time when this happened to you as it has with most of us.  And then it is too late – more harm has been done than ever intended.

For a relationship to be healthy and robust – differences need to be voiced, feelings heard and feedback pondered upon.

What can you do about it?


1) Reflect on what is stopping you. What is your self-talk and how is that reinforcing your barriers to giving constructive feedback? Is it about not making the time? Are you trying to please everybody?  You don’t know how? It is easier for you to get on with tangible tasks than the more intangible feelings and emotions? Are you waiting for the performance review? It is worth remembering that a relationship or team is as good as the degree of openness, trust and flexibility in it.

2) As a manager/leader, ask yourself  –  What are the BEHAVIOURS I AM REINFORCING through my own behaviour? What are the subtle messages I am reinforcing as to what is acceptable or not in our company culture?

These questions are worthy of quality reflection.  A client had a considerable breakthrough when he realised how as a leader he was fostering a conflict avoidance culture and the impact of this role modeling on others. He was also depriving his people off the feedback they sorely needed to learn, develop and grow.

Managers and leaders  lose credibility and respect when they don’t intervene and allow team members to continue with their discordant behaviour.

3) Work on BUILDING a CULTURE where it is SAFE AND OKAY to be open and discuss things.  For instance, make time in meetings to “check in” and talk about where people are at and how things are going. Team members really value when senior people ask for feedback and talk honestly about things such as the interpersonal dynamics of client relationships.

Create the right culture, context and process for team members to be able to do give each other feedback routinely and with care – then everyone wins.  And these skills can be learnt – something we can all get better at!

Your action?

Identify who you may need to have a conversation with. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes as part of this process, plan it, run it past a coach or trusted other. Then do it!

Feedback given sensitively and appropriately can be the ultimate gift – your team members get to see and know that you care enough to tell it like it is.

We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.

-Bill Gates 

As a leadership coach, team facilitator and speaker, I love working with savvy managers and leaders who are technically competent but need to enhance their self awareness to build teams which hum and have greater leadership and entrepreneurial impact. You can contact me on – jasbindar@jasbindarsingh.com or +64 27 280 3335

Image purchased from i-stock

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