How to Invite and Acknowledge Feedback as a Manager


As a manager, your constructive feedback can lift your team’s morale and performance. This can be letting someone know they’re doing a good job in a way that sounds genuine. Or, it may be providing practical and actionable feedback without offending someone who needs to improve their work.

Do your team members spend as much time as you on reading up on how to provide you with feedback?

Probably not.

Feedback isn’t a one-way street – and your team may think it’s not their place – but the best way to learn about giving feedback is to receive it yourself.

It’s one skill to give timely feedback to your team members. But, it’s another to learn to be open to conversations about how you, the manager, are doing.

How do you do invite employee feedback as a manager?

Ask for feedback at every opportunity

At the end of every one-on-one that I have with someone on my team, I ask if they have anything they want to talk about. I also ask if the structure of the one-on-one was effective or if there are any improvements we should make.

Fortunately, I’ve always had open relationships with people that report to me. After all, I’ve been in their place.

Surprisingly, whenever I ask these questions, they are likely to open up and tell me how they are feeling. This is particularly the case for people who have been on the team for a while.

Newcomers to the team or people who are not familiar with me, are less open. They may reveal something or may shake their head or stare blankly. No one wants to be first to provide feedback especially if you are unsure it’s wanted. So, keep asking. Yes! This means asking at every one-on-one. Even if they never provide you with feedback, you asking shows that you care and want to hear what they have to say. Even if that’s nothing.

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Open up communication after you’ve provided feedback

After you’ve built skill in asking for and receiving feedback ask the other person how the feedback helped. I like to ask “Do you have any questions about anything that we just talked about? Or, “do you have any thoughts about how I could have presented it better?” This instills  a culture of feedback.

You will want to avoid a constant feedback loop. Keep the correspondence concise only extending it to be about the feedback itself. By asking them how they felt about what you just said it can help them to process the feedback. This can negate potential blockers in future communications.

Admit when you’ve made a mistake

No one wants to admit they were wrong. However, if you present yourself as someone who is comfortable with admitting your flaws and mistakes, people will feel inclined to offer their feedback.

If you are seen as the type of person who will make any excuse rather than admit something may have been your fault, people will believe any feedback they offer will fall on deaf ears.

Take comfort in conversing about what you did wrong, and how you’ll do better in the future. It shows your colleagues that you are inclined towards change while recognizing that humans are not perfect.

Shift the conversation away from performance

If you are a manager, a lot of your conversation can fall around metrics and performance. Instead of all of your conversations focusing on how many conversations or interactions a person is responding to, ask them how their latest initiative is making them feel.

Everyone has feelings but perhaps your team doesn’t know that it’s okay to discuss them in the work environment. Being open about your own feelings can help your team to report to you honestly and make them feel more comfortable.

Instead of saying “We could have done better on volume this week, I’ve had leftover interactions at the end of every work day. Why do you think that is?”  try asking: “I feel like this week was a little hard for me to focus. Was that just me? How did you feel?”

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Cultivating an interaction of trust

Think about this conversation as you would a customer interaction: if you make a mistake on an interaction or in a conversation with a customer, you are the first person to admit, “Hey, I’m sorry. I made a mistake.”

You’d also be the first person to ask a customer how they felt after an interaction (I’ve received the surveys to prove it!).

Take those same instincts and put them to work in your team. Try to look at yourself as a support agent for both your external customer (the ones that pay for and use your product), and your internal customer (the people that you work with every day).

Both have the same wants and needs, and both will appreciate the opportunity to tell you how they feel once you’ve cultivated a relationship of trust with them.

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