How do you give feedback? Six Steps to Leadership Feedback. When we’re experiencing difficulty, it’s natural to look for outside sources to blame. However, I know that I’m the only person I can change. Therefore, my number one strategy for improvement is seeking feedback on my performance.
Want to reduce management struggles and boost your leadership? Get ready to be vulnerable.
When we’re experiencing difficulty, it’s natural to look for outside sources to blame. However, I know that I’m the only person I can change. Therefore, my number one strategy for improvement is seeking feedback on my performance.
When I was 23, I got a job at Sleep Train (a chain of mattress stores on the West Coast). The adrenaline of sales pulled me in, and I eventually went full-time. In six months, I was managing my own store in Stockton, California.
In my first quarter, my store turned its terrible numbers into record-breaking sales that surpassed even the highest ranked stores. I did it by following the rules to a “T” and drilling my employees on everything they did. My store was performing great, so I was convinced that I was the perfect boss. It was then that my district manager, Matt, painted me a different picture of my success. He told me, “You’re outstanding and one of the best salespeople we have. However, no one wants to work with you.” Ouch. My team actually disliked me so much that they gave me one of the worst nicknames you could ever give someone. It’s so bad; I don’t believe that I can post it in this article. You can read all about that in my book; Balanced Accountability.
This bit of truth was hard to hear, but it ended up being such a gift. Without it, I couldn’t have gone from that part-time sales position to the executive vice-president of a $3 billion company. In order to really accept what Matt was saying, however, I had to be open to the discomfort that came with getting critiqued.
Feedback is essential to strengthening your team and holding yourself accountable. The best way to get it is with a Personal Engagement Survey – a process that invites your staff to tell you exactly how they feel about your management. Is it awkward? Usually, but it’s worth it.
Here’s how it goes:
You’ll need a room and two flip charts. On the first flip chart write, “Things I’ve done that you liked and want more of.” On the other, write, “Things I need to do less of.”
Assemble your staff and talk about the challenges you’ve been experiencing. Admit that this situation is your responsibility and describe how this activity will help you be a better leader. Your team will love seeing you take the hit and will do anything to help you.
Ask your team to think about your actions in the last six months. Leave the room, and have them fill out the flip charts accordingly. Be prepared for the room to get tense – criticizing a higher-up can be scary. Assuring them that you’re the only one who will be taking the hit will prepare them for a productive session.
Let your team work on this without you. Give them a half hour to fill out the charts while you find a place to do the exercise yourself. What do you think your team likes about you? What doesn’t work for them? This will enable you to compare your own ideas to those of your team.
After thirty minutes, return to the room and have your team tell you more about each item listed. This is very important: All you need to say is, “Tell me more about X…” Many items will be difficult to hear, but don’t challenge them, explain, justify, or makes excuses. Remember, you’re the one taking the hit! Commit to listening.
Thank everyone for their honesty and continue with your planned meeting. Be sure to let them know that you value their feedback. Now filter out anything that’s not helpful. Review what you heard and look for common denominators and recurring themes. Then decide what actions you will take based on what you’ve learned.
Important: Show the proof to your team that you’re listening and send them an email with your top three to five things you’re going to work on first.
This process isn’t easy, but what an incredible opportunity it is to be able to tailor your leadership to your staff’s unique needs. This is not only a sure-fire way to improve your own accomplishments, but it’s a great way to build bonds and prevent turnover. Imagine how much closer your team will be once they feel respected, trusted, and valued. Don’t be shocked when your team comes to you for feedback on their performance.
As Bill Gates said as co-founder at Microsoft, “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” Feedback is not only a gift to the receiver, but it’s also a bonus for the giver. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and uncomfortable now so that you can be a stronger and better leader in the future.
Hernani Alves is an Amazon best selling author, international speaker, and consultant with over twenty years of business experience as a Sales Executive for a $3 Billion Company. He’s the founder of Balanced IQ, a company that helps leaders build world-class teams focused on getting sustainable results in varying economic climates.
In his book, Balanced Accountability: Three Leadership Secrets to Win Hearts and Maximize Performance, Alves delivers a newfound clarity on the case for accountability and the steps organizations, and individuals need to take to unleash their potential. He reveals the framework needed to improve accountability in the workplace to win hearts and maximize performance.
How to reduce turnover? Three Expectations to Reduce Turnover: Create a Dream Team of Loyal Employees. To avoid these costs—financial and otherwise—leaders need to set the right expectations during onboarding, so employees have positive experiences, know what they must do to be successful, and become willing to walk through walls for their new company.
According to the Human Capital Institute, “Approximately seventy percent of new hires decide whether to stay or leave an organization within the first six months of joining.” In case you haven’t already felt the impact of high turnover, think about this: Forbes says, “Off-the-shelf estimates are available, which might set the cost of an entry-level position turning over at 50 percent of salary; mid-level at 125 percent of salary; and senior executive over 200 percent of salary.” Deloitte suggests that hiring costs combined with lost productivity means each departing employee costs an average of $121,000.
To avoid these costs—financial and otherwise—leaders need to set the right expectations during onboarding, so employees have positive experiences, know what they must do to be successful, and become willing to walk through walls for their new company.
1. Don’t Assume (Unconsciously Setting Expectations)
Some factors of running a successful team are obvious. Others aren’t. For example, one would think it’s clear that showing up on time is an understood expectation; however, if an employee was “trained” at his last job that tardiness is okay, you have to reprogram this expectation. In fact, there are also several other ways employees take their cues on what is expected from them. These could consist of what society wants from them, the new company’s on-boarding process, explicit written instructions, and perhaps most important, what they observe from other co-workers and supervisors.
As a leader, your team is watching you for expectations. It’s important to clearly communicate what is expected of your new employees, which reinforces expectations to all employees. Employees are more engaged at work if they know what’s expected of them. It’s not just about having rules and consequences. It’s about mindfully engaging your employees at a heart level and motivating them to raise the standard of their performance.
2. Employees Love Expectations
There are some common areas of expectations to look out for as a leader. They are lack of time management, missing deadlines, use of cell phone during meetings, general personal internet use at work, not following set work protocols, dressing too casually and using foul language at work. While some of these rules seem obvious, setting the boundaries in a specific way helps avoid ambiguity.
As a rule of thumb, you almost can’t go too far in setting clear expectations. A line or two in your manual stating that gross behavior such as violence or theft has zero tolerance may not be needed for most, but still consider including it. It sets a tone. A woman who once prepared for Canadian citizenship was handed a manual to study. In the manual, there was a line about having no tolerance of spousal abuse, “honor” killings or similar behavior in their country. If Canada finds importance in making clear such abhorrent behavior will not be tolerated, companies can definitely learn from its example.
Setting clear expectations helps retain employees because it cuts down on their anxiety. When you set clear expectations and follow through with them, employees know what to expect and what consequences will happen. It also eliminates feelings of unfairness. If one employee experiences a fall out from not finishing an assignment on time and another employee experiences no ramifications for the same offense, that could breed animosity on a team. Most of the time, workers should know what to expect when they’re called into a meeting about their work performance. You accomplish this by setting firm expectations and consistently following through on them. No surprises equals no anxiety and long term commitment with your company.
3. Coaching for Success, Not Happiness
As a leader at work, you have to set the example, and it revolves around coaching. It’s bringing all leaders in on thinking like an owner. If they have the level of investment in a decision or outcome that an owner would, that changes the game.
Leaders encounter trouble when they just want their employees to be happy. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging happiness at work, of course, but think of a leader more like a personal trainer. Of course, a personal trainer does care about you, but they are really there to help you get in shape, form muscles, and improve your health. You may not always like them, as they are coaching you to be better. As a leader at work, you are there to help your employees succeed, learn new skills, and make an income to support their families.
As Steve Jobs said as CEO at Apple, “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push and make them even better.” Combining solid expectations communicated in a clear way with focused coaching builds a team that succeeds and wants to work for your company for years to come.
What is Accountability? Win Hearts and Loyalty by Making Your Team Greater Than Yourself. Accountability is a powerful tool, but to be effective, it’s got to be rooted in love and desire to see your employees go farther than yourself.
A great leader loves and respects their employees. They recognize that it’s their job to uplift the team by holding them accountable and motivating them to strive for greatness. It may surprise you, but that kind of support in the workplace is an example of a love not totally unlike that of a parent for their child. While love in a professional setting may seem a little strange, it is the only way to truly unlock the potential of those you lead.
One wish that every parent shares is that their children will find more success than themselves. I didn’t understand what that meant until my wife went into labor with our daughter. She’d had a healthy pregnancy, but when we arrived at the hospital ready to give birth, excitement turned to fear. The nurse checking my wife’s vitals couldn’t find our baby’s heartbeat. The doctors assured us that this isn’t uncommon, but going through labor not knowing if our daughter would be born with a heartbeat was one of the most difficult experiences we’ve ever been through. Twelve hours later she arrived, heartbeat intact. There were complications immediately following her birth, but she’s since grown into a strong and smart teenager with a laugh that’ll make you smile.
The moment I thought we might lose her was the moment I knew that my children’s success in life would always be a top priority.
Do I expect you to feel that level of love for your employees? Probably not, but the idea of prioritizing their success is something that will absolutely benefit everyone, including your company. When your team members feel genuinely respected and cared for, they will return the sentiment with productivity and reliability. This is best done through conscientious accountability.
I know the idea of holding your staff accountable can be overwhelming, but I have mentored countless other leaders through this, and I’ve experienced it firsthand. What I’m suggesting you instill isn’t run-of-the-mill accountability. Conscientious accountability is a more in-depth type of accountability that is done out of love, not retribution. I define it with something I call the 3Ps: personal, positive, and performance accountability.
This is the hardest and most important aspect type of accountability. As the leader, we have to hold ourselves accountable before anyone else. Your employees are looking for you to lead by example. What behavior do you want them to follow? You need to be willing to practice self-awareness and humility before asking them to do the same. Ask them for feedback on your own work and respect what they tell you. Focus your energy on finding solutions, not playing the victim. Your actions will set the precedence.
Leading with positivity is essential for achieving positivity in the workplace. It’s how good managers become great leaders.
Research says that negativity is contagious, but the good news is that positivity is, too. You need to create positive experiences for your team. I’m not saying to sugar-coat the issues; I’m saying to make an effort to solve the problem. This will help you reduce turnover, increase profitability, and make work a much more enjoyable place for everyone.
This is aligned with a more basic understanding of accountability; like when you haul someone up for their actions. However, that practice just welcomes resistance and resentment towards your leadership. You can hold someone accountable without shame or punishment. Performance accountability gives you the option to coach your struggling employees while boosting their confidence and empowering them to do their best.
Accountability is a powerful tool, but to be effective, it’s got to be rooted in love and desire to see your employees go farther than yourself. Before working my way up as a part-time employee to becoming an executive in a $3 billion company with over 15,000 employees, I had people in my life that went out of their way to mentor me and guide me towards my own success. Leaders not only surround themselves with people more knowledgeable than themselves, but they also elevate those with more to learn. If you’re in leadership, this is the only way to see your own long-term goals reached. Remember that you and your staff rely on each other. The rewards for your effort here will be returned in love, commitment, and prosperity.
Hernani started as a part-time employee and eventually grew to become the President for a $3 Billion Company that was regularly voted as Best Workplace. Today, he as an author, an international speaker that helps leaders build world-class teams focused on getting results. Hernani has been featured in: Stanford University, iHeart Radio, HR.com, Recruiter, Idea Mensch, CEOWorld Magazine, Conscious Company, Action NOW CFO, The Revolution, Extreme Leadership, and more.
In his book, “Balanced Accountability: Three Leadership Secrets to Win Hearts and Maximize Performance,” Alves delivers a newfound clarity on the case for accountability and the steps organizations, and individuals need to take to unleash their potential.
Why is Accountability Important? Own It, See It, Change It: The 3-Step Plan for Personal and Professional Success. In the years during which I went from a part-time employee to a sales executive for a company doing more than $3 billion in sales, I learned that personal success is not some unattainable, mysterious thing. It is ours to gain, to lose, and to share. Let me show you exactly how to take the reigns and make success work for you:
Success isn’t something that happens to you; it’s something you create.
Step 1: Own It
No one will ever own your victories but you. Of course, the flip side is that no one else owns your blunders, either.
Two-time NFL MVP quarterback Steve Young threw 202 interceptions in his career. Those were 202 opportunities to blame his teammates — however, Young never did. He took responsibility for each game’s outcome regardless of how the mistakes happened.
As a leader, you need to take the hit when your team faces challenges, even when those challenges are beyond your control. It’s easy to get lost in a blame game, but dwelling on what is going wrong or whose fault it is won’t fix the issue. That is pure victim mentality.
On the other hand, hero mentality prioritizes finding a solution first and then addressing what went sideways. Once you understand that you are in control no matter the result, you can find the audacity to try new things to cement your and your crew’s success.
“Owning it” means taking the hits — but it also means reaping the rewards.
Step 2: Visualize It
Before you can go after success, you have to know what you’re looking for.
For example, I love working on my golf play, but for years water hazards were my downfall. I’d approach them the same way every time: I’d line up, see the pond blocking my path, look down, and think, “I hate water hazards.” Then I’d swing, and my ball would dive directly into the pond. It took a lot of missed shots, but I finally figured out what I was doing wrong: I was fixating on the obstacle blocking me and not the path around it.
The best adjustment I made was simply visualizing my ball soaring over the water and landing cleanly on the green. Pairing a winning visualization with proper technique absolutely helped me get over my hurdle. I just had to see it before I could do it. Focusing on a positive outcome is a concrete step toward changing for the better.
Implementing visualization can be hard if you don’t know what success looks like. Just remember, successful people will always surround themselves with individuals who are more successful than they are. Consider eliminating any energy vampires who may be holding you back, and focus on your relationships with those invested in your best interests.
Go ahead and look at someone in your life who is thriving. Now, take three minutes to write down what they actively do to meet their goals. Circle the most important thing on that list and do it.
Step 3: Change It
If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’re going to keep getting the same results. It’s just like looking in the mirror: What you see is what you get. You’re going to have to implement some change, and then the improvements will follow.
I achieved great on-paper accomplishments in my first high-level management position, but despite that, my staff was extremely unhappy under my supervision. When I took the time to look at my own contributions to the mess, I gave myself the power to fix it. My employees’ attitudes weren’t the problem; the way I managed was the problem. Unless I changed my behavior, there was no way I could ask my team to change theirs.
Change is something all leaders are asked to do in their careers. As people, environments, and businesses adjust, so must we. Holding on to the way you do things in an attempt to fix your problem is like digging deeper to try to get out of a ditch. The way to grow is to embrace the change. Only then will you see new opportunities for success.
It’s easy to blame other people or outside circumstances for our shortcomings, but doing that strips you of your power. By owning your circumstances, visualizing your goals, and changing when needed, you’ll find that success is yours for the taking.
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