Is your manager really open to feedback?

Rogier van der Werf

Feedback is a gift; unfortunately it’s not always received that way. In this blog we’ve outlined four caricatures of managers that do not effectively use feedback, and discuss what you can do to change this.

Is your manager really open to feedback?

At its core, feedback is about performance.  In order for managers to be effective, it is essential that they both give and receive feedback. By creating a continuous cycle of feedback, managers are able to positively affect employees’ motivation, performance, engagement and commitment. Further, good feedback enables managers to improve their own performance.

Unfortunately, not all managers effectively use employee feedback. In our work with global organisations and their employee surveys, we encounter four common caricatures of managers that do not effectively use employee feedback:

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The eternal analyst

Managers can feel helpless by the amount of information they receive from feedback. For example, when receiving employee survey results some managers spend weeks analysing the data. In many cases, the same managers also ask us for an additional breakdown, another comparison group or just exactly how we calculated the scores. These are the managers that will do just about anything to avoid entering a discussion about feedback with their team.

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The hasty decision maker

We also see managers who are the exact opposite. Managers who immediately want to create an action plan; even before they have any input from their teams and colleagues. Such action shows assertiveness and commitment, but this type of manager runs a great risk that the plan will neither be supported by the team, nor be very successful.

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The victim

Some managers take the feedback too personally. They perceive the team’s dissatisfaction as an attack on them personally, thus making it hard to find solutions and induce positive changes. There is a significant chance that the atmosphere becomes highly charged, and that the feedback in the employee survey reports disappear into a draw. Managers as described above need to realise that their actions play a role in influencing the motivation and attitude of the employees in their team.

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The denier

At the opposite end, some managers take the feedback too impersonally: they wrongly believe that they have no influence on the underlying causes of the problems, and are therefore unable to do anything to improve the organisation. When the team comes around to discussing the subject with the manager, they put the blame elsewhere and adopt a passive attitude.

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focus: don’t neglect the positives

Effectory’s study found that too many managers are currently neglecting praise in their feedback. just 46% of employees responded that their manager gives positive feedback regularly. whilst constructive feedback is valuable, the best feedback incorporates both positives and negatives!

What’s the right way to receive feedback?

Fortunately, we also work with a lot of managers who are extremely constructive when it comes to acting upon feedback from their employee survey. These managers find a good balance between a solid approach and ensuring the process is progressive. The most positive experiences come when managers take responsibility, and are neither afraid of appearing vulnerable nor do they take the feedback personally.

Whichever initial reaction managers have to the feedback, it is important that as a manger, the first thing they do is to think about how they are going to share the results with the team. Furthermore, it is crucial that they think about which attitude is conducive of a frank and constructive discussion.

Get started!

If you are interested please feel free to contact us for helpful advice on employee engagement, employee commitment and employee surveys, and how you can constructively and professionally use feedback.

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