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Your Weekly Leadership HVA (High Value Activity)

Feedback Receptivity

Hello Lifelong Learner ...

Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions) to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites #17: In last week's CORE Bites, we acknowledged the hard reality that even if you're excellent at setting goals, outstanding at planning and organizing, and exceptional in other management processes, if you're only marginal at establishing a feedback-receptive work environment, you — and your team — will never realize your full potential. Knowing how to create a feedback-receptive culture will be an asset for you today as well as long-term because this skill is easily transferable as you advance in your career. And — bonus — it will also benefit you at home and in other parts of your life.

The first segment of this two-part CORE Bites topic (last week) covered how to lay the foundation for increased employee receptivity to feedback. (It might be a great idea to review that segment once more before reading this installment.) The second segment (this week) will cover how our individual styles and approaches can either enhance feedback receptivity or compromise it.

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Step: Here are a few HVA action steps you can incorporate into your feedback approach to derive as much benefit as possible from the feedback you're providing:

  • "Go First" Modeling Technique: One of the best ways to build a feedback receptive work environment is to be open to feedback yourself. When you work toward the goal of receiving feedback from your team, you positively reinforce the behavior you want to see and defuse some of the anxiety that exists around feedback.
  • Build Trust: Do the necessary work in advance because employees receive feedback better when they trust the person delivering it.
  • Check Your Current 'Feedback Delivery' Mood: If you're upset or emotionally charged about the situation you need to provide feedback on, it's better to wait until you calm down before delivering the feedback. Similarly, if you're feeling stressed or annoyed for any other reason, follow the same advice.
  • Understand the Employee's Current 'Receptivity' State: Ask him or her "Do you have time for some feedback and suggestions I'm hoping to share with you about [enter situation here]? If now's not a good time, we can discuss this when you're ready."
  • Assume Good Intent: If your feedback is shared constructively and with genuine concern for the other person, you're doing it right. When you come from a place of working together rather than a place of judgment, people are much more likely to be receptive.
  • Use the Passive Voice: The passive voice is a powerful way to give constructive feedback that's helpful without being personal (focusing on the problem not on the individual). Consider these two examples: "You didn't provide any data to support the recommendations you made in the report." and "I think this report would be better received if more data was provided to support your recommendations." While the two critiques are communicating the same thing, the second (passive voice) is much more likely to be positively received.
  • Don't be an Accidental Hypocrite: If, for example, you're needing to speak with an employee about listening more and speaking less in meetings, then you'd better be modeling good listening skills if you want the person to embrace the feedback. This is good advice for other behaviors as well. "Don't do as I do ... do as I say" isn't the way to build feedback receptivity!

I'd love to hear how this HVA works for you!

Have a brilliant day ... and enjoy the journey!


Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA

RESULTant and Behavioral Engineer


"Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots." — Frank A. Clark 


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