One of the most important goals as leader is to create a culture of feedback. Fostering an environment of healthy debate and discussion, where constructive feedback is shared throughout the organization – amongst peers, to and from leadership, and across teams – is paramount to your business’ long term growth and success. As leaders, the building of this culture begins with us.
To encourage a culture of feedback as a manager, we must first prove we can take it. To that end, we must not start by giving feedback but, instead start by getting it. This will give people the confidence and comfort to have open conversations with us and with others.
We, as leaders, must exemplify the behavior we want to see, further enabling and promoting it in our teams.
So how do we get started?
I got you! The weekly one-on-one meetings with our direct reports is the perfect place to begin and an ideal opportunity to get feedback that will help us grow. It is our secret weapon, one of the best tools we have in our managerial utility belt.
And without further ado…
One-on-one feedback questions
Below are some of the best questions I have asked to obtain feedback from my team. I typically pose one (and only one) of these at the end of my one-on-one meetings. Now, for each of these questions, be sure to say it in your own words. Make sure it rolls off your tongue in a natural way that works for you.
Ask the question, then wait. Listen. Do not interrupt, do not follow up with another question. Sit with the discomfort and let the conversation breathe.
- What feedback do you have for me?
- What advice do you have for me? (a slight change from above…but it may open up more feedback)
- What can I do more or less of to better support you?
- What can I do more or less of to make it easier to work with me?
- What is something that we, as a team/company, are doing well that we should keep doing?
- What is something that we are doing that we should stop doing?
- What is something we are not doing that we should start doing?
- What have I done to stress you out/frustrate you?
- Would you like more or less direction from me?
- I am working on my attention to detail/listening/area I am not strong at, could you give me some feedback on how I have been doing in this area in the last week/month/quarter?
- Would you like more or less feedback on your work? If so, what additional feedback would you like?
Now, once we have received feedback, we must:
- Ensure we are clear on the feedback (ask clarifying questions as needed, get examples where appropriate, etc.)
- Thank the person for their feedback (this is important, let people know you appreciate their feedback and more will come!)
- Take action to address the feedback (work to improve, conduct follow ups, get coaching, etc.)
Once my team knew that I wanted, encouraged, and appreciated their feedback, it came more often, more easily.
Getting feedback is a critical component to our growth as managers. Ultimately, we want to foster open, collaborative, safe, and supportive environments for our team. We want to improve, get better, and create high-performing technology organizations. To accomplish these goals, we must start with ourselves. Learning our blind spots, our strengths, and our areas of improvement is fundamental to being the best leaders (and people!) we can be. Is it easy? Nah. Is it worth it? No doubt.
Keep pushing, keep growing, and keep learning. You got this!
- Ben Horowitz on one-on-ones
- Unlock honest feedback from your employees with this one word by Know your team
- The muse on getting honest feedback from your team as a manager
- DayDreams in Ruby on getting feedback
- Radical Candor
- One-on-one meeting Dos and Don’ts