Be a Better Leader in Twenty Seconds
“We all need people who will give us feedback,” said Bill Gates. “That’s how we improve.” And yet, too often, that’s the very thing that holds most people back. Without someone to offer constructive feedback, they don’t see what they’re doing wrong and lose out on the chance to grow.
Feedback is consistently rated as one of the most critical aspects of leadership and also the biggest area of struggle. In one study, 81% of employees who rated their manager poorly also noted that they didn’t provide enough feedback. Of those who were happy with their manager, the percentage that was dissatisfied with feedback dropped to 17%.
In all my years managing people, I can confidently say that the biggest differentiator between strong and ineffective managers is the ability to give meaningful feedback. Those who do are able to uphold higher standards and build stronger teams. They attract high quality people who want to grow. And they create a culture focused on constant improvement and a willingness to change. Without feedback, none of this happens.
Which makes it so unfortunate that so many managers are still holding back in this area.
I get it. It’s not easy to criticize people. Most of us don’t like conflict and giving someone feedback has the tendency to create it. What if people don’t want to hear our feedback? What if they argue with us? What if they get upset and quit on the spot? We’re great at coming up with worst-case scenarios and then convincing ourselves they’re inevitable.
But here’s the problem with that: it’s not about us. Feedback is about helping the other person grow. If we’re putting our own fears before someone else’s chance to grow, we’re doing them a disservice.
When I first started as a manager, I struggled with this same issue. I would see someone doing something wrong and keep it to myself. I’d rationalize it away by saying that it’s a minor issue and not worth correcting. Except then they kept doing it wrong. Things got worse and suddenly I couldn’t ignore it any longer. When I finally addressed it, instead of being a minor correction it was a much bigger issue.