Getting feedback to improve your leadership

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David Hassell, CEO of 15Five, discusses how getting feedback from your team can improve your leadership

CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on 15Five

Throughout my time in leadership I’ve found that, by uncovering what’s most meaningful for my team, and the company as a whole, I’m better able to take action on what matters most. You can start gathering feedback from your team today by learning to ask the right questions. Here are some of the best I’ve found.

What’s going well for you and your team this week?

This is a great place to start because it sets a positive tone for the conversation and allows your team to celebrate their wins and accomplishments. Be sure to highlight the small but critical things that might get overlooked and, as you listen, pay attention to what your team consider triumphs relative to the goals of the organisation.

What barriers are getting in the way of your success? Where are you stuck?

The first step in overcoming challenges is identifying the barriers that are getting in the way. It’s also important to normalise the idea that everyone feels stuck occasionally, and to remind your team that help is available when they need it. In talking about challenges, make sure that you are offering coaching in a way that helps your team feel supported. Brainstorm actionable solutions together, and listen for patterns within these conversations.

What can I do to help you be more successful?

Employee success is a dynamic, and always evolving, process; you can support your team’s success by giving them permission to ask for the things that will move the needle forward and build a more engaged team. Of course, regardless of the type of support that’s needed, always be prepared to follow through with any solutions you propose. 

How are you feeling at work lately? How’s the morale around you?

Asking this question in an authentic way increases drive and job satisfaction because it makes your team feel validated and heard. When you know how your team are feeling you can time certain initiatives and changes within the company to set them up for success – and aside from providing you with valuable insight and feedback, asking these questions can also enhance self-awareness and promote better communication within the whole team. 

On a scale of one-to-10, how satisfied are you, and why?

The research on positive psychology is clear  – positivity is a precursor to success and accomplishment, not the other way around. When your team is happy, they not only come up with better solutions, but their satisfaction also helps to build a culture of high performance and low turnover. 

Plus, asking this question sends the message that your team matter beyond performance and work-related issues. Of course, remind your team that they don’t have to disclose anything they’re uncomfortable sharing but, by quantifying how they’re feeling in a broad sense, you can get a quick snapshot of this metric across the team.

What’s the best thing that happened to you this week, either at work or outside of it?

Learning about your team can help you develop a more committed and engaged team and, on a more personal level, when employees feel that their manager knows them and understands their personal goals, it helps foster team cohesion and employee retention. Use this question as an opportunity to build meaningful connections and discover common ground.

What were some great contributions made by other team members recently?

Rather than asking for feedback on the performance of a specific member of your team, asking this question in an open-ended way allows your team to acknowledge each other positively and organically; by asking it regularly you’ll normalise noticing and highlighting what’s going well with the team both individually and collectively. You can also use the answers to this question to develop an understanding of the top traits to look for in a new team member. 

What can I do to be a better leader?

There are few better ways to model seeking and accepting constructive criticism than by asking this question. While it might be difficult to ask at first, it will get easier over time and the responses will be incredibly worthwhile. You will learn what your team perceive as core leadership values, and determine if they are in sync with the values of management and the company as a whole. The insights offered here will also aid you to promote internally as it takes a courageous and perceptive employee to tell their manager where they have room to grow.

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