1. Do it in real time. Semi-annual or annual performance reviews are nice but can’t take the place of prompt, on-the-spot feedback about something that didn’t go well or something that did.
2. Get enough facts so you can provide a context of what happened, with specifics. Generalizations, such as “you never” or “you always” work against you.
3. Focus more on the positives. If someone did something you like, let them know. Humans are hardwired with a negativity bias: We feel the sting of a rebuke more powerfully than the joy of praise. It’s important to overcome that with “I-love-how-you-handled-this” type of comments.
4. Listening is key as much as engaging in a discussion. As a leader, remember that you don’t know or have the solution for everything. Don’t let familiarity, power or position blind you.
5. Be a good role model. A leader might have to make some tough decisions that won’t be welcomed by everyone. But, this leader might be admired, respected, or even trusted. Feedback from such a leader will be heard. Feedback from a leader who is impatient, cynical, opinionated and late for meetings likely won’t be.
6. Ask early for genuine feedback. The higher you rise in the ranks, the harder it is to get honest feedback. People working for you want to please you, not annoy you. In a New York Times article, Leadership Means Learning to Look Behind the Mask, the author thoughtfully talks about the difficulties she had getting good feedback. It wasn’t until she announced her retirement that people felt comfortable giving her their honest assessments.
Read my full article, “A Leader Knows How to Give Feedback. True or False?” (via Arden Coaching)
I'm an executive coach who works with clients on leadership and transition challenges, including retiring with enthusiasm and ease.