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  • Stephen Fortune

Unwrapping the gift of feedback in Leadership

We are sure many of you have heard the phrase ‘feedback is a gift’ and our rational self knows this to be true. Someone has taken the trouble to share their feedback so that you can learn and grow as a person. Sounds good? Then why do we have such a visceral and often negative initial reaction to being given feedback and, why are we so bad at it? 


In this article, we asked our Senior Partner, Stephen Fortune, to share his thoughts on the topic and his top 5 tips on how to transform your feedback culture. 


 

The truth is we have a lot of mind traps (negative mindset) with giving and receiving feedback. These include ‘I will hurt the persons feelings’, ‘I have to still work with them’, ‘I will damage the relationships’, and in terms of receiving feedback, ‘they don’t know what they are talking about’. 


In my experience, it is often the question ‘my manager gives and receives feedback’ that scores the lowest on client engagement surveys, so today I wanted to share with you my 5 top tips that will transform your feedback culture. Here goes... 


  1. Ask for feedback yourself. If you want to create a positive feedback culture, ask others for feedback before you give feedback yourself. You can experiment with this at the end of your 1:1s or at team meetings – using the easy tool - what’s working well and what could be even better if

  2. Ask for advice instead of feedback. Asking for advice has a different feel to it and people are more readily able to offer advice. After your team meeting, client pitch or project; try asking others ‘what advice do you have for me for next time?’ 

  3. Catch people doing things right. Research (by Gallup) shows you should give people positive feedback vs constructive feedback at a ratio of 5:1 or more. We need to remember that cortisol (the stress hormone in the brain) lasts longer than oxytocin (a hormone that impacts our positive mood). Therefore, we need to be providing more on-track than off-track feedback. 

  4. ‘Good job’ doesn’t cut it. Put the same effort into positive feedback as you would more constructive feedback. Maybe sure the person is clearer on what they did and the impact they had on you, the team or the business (or all three!) 

  5. Align with the person or team on how they like to get feedback. Long before you need to have that courageous or difficult conversation, ask the person or team the following questions:


  • How do you like to get feedback? 

  • Any other advice for me in giving you feedback? 

  • When you have been given feedback previously, what was done well and also not so well? 

 

At Blue Gnu Consulting Ltd, we’ve noticed that the topic of feedback is extremely high on the list when it comes to what our client organisations want help with. 

We love supporting teams and helping them to understand how and why feedback is essential for personal and collective growth, improved performance, and enhanced collaboration. 

We hope you enjoyed reading Stephen’s tips and that they will help you the next time you need to give someone the gift of feedback. 

Article written by Senior Partner, Stephen Fortune - April 2024



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