Leadership insight on receiving upward feedback

As a leader it is important to be open, provide a safe space for employees to disclose critical feedback and encourage employees to be upfront and honest when providing feedback.

How receptive to receiving feedback are you as a leader?

There is no argument that receiving, listening to, and actioning constructive feedback has a positive impact for businesses. When employees feel heard they are more likely to remain engaged in their work, be productive and staff turnover rates remain low. When leaders receive and listen to feedback it becomes obvious to employees and helps create mutual respect between the two parties. Employees become more likely to give feedback if they consistently have good experiences providing it, which enables businesses to grow, adapt and respond to change effectively because information, ideas and experiences are more likely to be shared.

Receiving upward feedback

How receptive are leaders at receiving feedback? In many cases, not very. There have been several studies reporting there is a big gap in how approachable leaders think they are to receiving feedback and how their team perceive this. This can create a ‘silence’ from employees and mean leaders falsely think ‘no news is good news’. Because of this silence leaders may also believe they are aware of the whole picture, but that is often far from the truth.

Employees often only provide leaders with good news and stray away from hard truths. This silence can be a subconscious act from employees who strive to progress in their career and please their manager. When leaders are only receiving positive news, they often conclude their point of view is the only perspective. This can lead to leaders being overconfident in their ability and mean they are shielded from critical feedback. Some will become less open to receiving critical feedback and less likely to believe it is valid.

Receiving critical feedback

As a leader it is important to be open, provide a safe space for employees to disclose critical feedback and encourage employees to be upfront and honest when providing feedback. Reflect on what type of feedback you receive from your team. Is it only positive feedback? In this instance you might not be as open to receiving critical feedback as you think. You should be receiving a ratio of both positive and critical feedback.

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