Feedback from leaders drives engagement and performance, yet many workers report that feedback is lacking.
Leaders even know this truth, but still avoid giving feedback.
Here are five common reasons leaders may be uncomfortable giving feedback, and reasons to do it anyway:
“It’s just a small thing – no big deal.” – Do it anyway. When I was youngish, I had a leader call me on starting an event 2 minutes late. Two minutes! What’s the big deal? Well, it wasn’t a big deal, but he had the foresight to give me feedback when it was “no big deal,” knowing that eventually I could develop a bad habit of starting meetings and events later and later, turning it into a “big deal.” Keep molehills from becoming mountains – do it anyway.
“They’re going to get defensive.” – Do it anyway. We all get a touch defensive at times, especially when we get caught a little off-guard with unexpected news. By its nature, corrective feedback is usually a surprise. Stay casual, give them a bit of room to be defensive, and move on. If they’re a good team member, they’ll get over it. If they don’t, then you’ve learned something; this is someone to keep an eye on.
“They’re too busy; I’ll wait until the project is over.” – Do it anyway. But, keep it brief and casual, especially if it’s something that may affect others working on that project. If you avoid feedback, whether corrective or positive, when someone is busy, what do they learn? If you want to avoid correction, look busy! Instead, teach them that communication is persistent and important, no matter what.
“I’m worried I’ll come across wrong.” – Practice. In a mirror. On a trusted colleague or family member. Giving feedback is your job. If it’s uncomfortable for you, then that’s an area to work on. That’s what leaders do.
“I’m too busy; I’ll wait until my project is over because I’m a ‘working manager’.” – Leading your team is the most important part of your job. Take the 3 minutes needed to break from your tasks and give a 15-second bit of feedback.
Next week, I’ll give you a pass on two justifiable reasons to delay feedback.