I had a good chat with someone recently about feedback that they’d received about their management style. They were ready to brush it off because it came from someone who was a bit of a troublemaker and on their way out of the door. Hopefully, I convinced them not to.
Feedback is always a gift. You may not like the gift, it may be stinky socks, but it is a gift nonetheless and should be treated as such. People who give feedback that stings may want to hurt you, but it is truly up to you to grow from it rather than let it diminish you.
What should you do when you get stinky socks feedback? Well, the first thing is to stop thinking of it as stinky socks. There is a golden nugget of goodness in every piece of feedback that you get. Recognize if you are becoming defensive or thinking negatively and slow things down.
Take a look at what was said from the perspective of the person who said it. If they said that you seem disengaged lately, think about if there is some truth in that. Remember, they view you from a completely different perspective than you view yourself. Then, rather than think about why they may have said that, think about what the impact that behavior may have had on them.
Some of the biggest leadership transformations that I’ve seen have been when leaders involve those who have given them feedback on their leadership journey. Reach out, ask for help pinpointing when you’ve said or done something that doesn’t sit right with someone on your team. You may unconsciously be pissing people off left and right. That’s not something you can fix on your own.
Last, ask for feedback. Get to know people on your team in a way that lets them know that you are always open to receiving the gift of feedback. Demand the same of leaders that work for you and check in with their teams. Think about when you had a crappy boss. Wouldn’t it have been great if your crappy boss’s boss checked in with you and asked for feedback to help your boss be less crappy?
Being in HR for so long I have said over and over, an organization can’t fix a problem that it doesn’t know that it has. Communication is more than just a two-way street. Leaders have to be willing to listen to feedback and people have to be willing to give it, but the onus is on Leaders to go search for that feedback. Conduct skip level meetings, 360 evaluations, engagement surveys, whatever it takes because without the gift of feedback, you don’t grow. And when you stop growing, you stop thriving.