As a manager, you are in charge of a team. In order to function as a cohesive unit, you need the confidence and respect of your direct reports and vice versa. But, who is going to run to the boss with their problems? Hopefully, everyone on your team will. We will discuss some ways that you can encourage honest feedback from your team.

The Situation

So, why isn’t everyone comfortable with their boss? People are human. Somewhere in their past, they may have had an issue with their superior or another teammate. Following the chain of command, they voiced their concerns. As a result, the unexpected happened. They were given the cold shoulder, suffered retaliation or were passed over for promotion.

It may not be like this for everyone, but at some point, we have all encountered a situation like this. It could have even been in grade school. Negative experiences often are more prominent in our psyche than the positive ones. As a result, we are gun-shy when it comes to trusting in a superior to solve an issue.

Retaliation is probably the number one concern of employees in respect to their boss. Because a team member is not sure how their words will be perceived, they would rather not risk the chance that it will hurt their career in their present company. This is an unfortunate situation that only continues when one day a team member is promoted to manager over their own team.

Stop the Cycle; Promote Conversation

It’s time for managers to break the cycle of silence. And, they have to take the first step. After all, you are the leader. If you want your direct reports to follow, then be the example they need. Helpful feedback is as much about you, the manager, as it is about your team members. Remember that.

  1. Ask for it – Ask your team members how they feel about their job. This includes their workload, available support and how you are doing. It’s not about fishing for complements, but rather encouraging honest talk. It might take several tries before you get a decent and thoughtful answer.
  2. Accept it – At team meetings, set aside time for team members to voice concerns about project work as well as your performance.
  3. Use a metric – Surveys are good ways to get feedback. Ask team members to rate your performance based on certain characteristics, as well as rating their work environment and their needs. A quarterly survey can be useful to evaluate any changes you have made since the last one.
  4. Ask for examples – If someone says that you don’t have time for them, ask for a specific situation when that happened. Specifics ensure that you are hearing honest feedback that can be addressed.
  5. Discuss the issues – When you are made aware of a problem, discuss it with a particular employee or the entire team (if it pertains to everyone). Get everything out in the air so there are no misunderstandings.
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