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Feedback: Even Managers Need It

Posted by Buff Parham on Dec 10, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Managers are almost always reviewed by their superiors—and they get valuable feedback from that process. What’s even more valuable is getting that same kind of information and insight from those who work for them.

Very few companies require their managers to be reviewed by their staff—which means that really savvy managers take the initiative to do this on their own. It shouldn’t be just an ego boost. It’s about actually gathering important information to help improve your performance.

Don’t be afraid or hesitant to ask. Asking your team members speaks volumes about you in a very positive way. Many employees are pleasantly surprised (and impressed) when their respective boss asks, “How am I doing?”

Staff evaluation of your performance works on two levels, giving you valuable feedback and connecting you closer to your team at the same time.  

Managers need feedback too

Here are some critical tips that will help you get the most out of this endeavor:

1. Ask privately not publicly, and broaden your sample of respondents.

Doing a group review is a waste of time—there are always opinion leaders who will skew the feedback to their liking. One-on-one sessions is the way to go. It may take you a little longer, but you will get more and better information in that setting.

While you don’t need to meet with every member of the team, you should strive to have a diverse range of people in your “sample.” Picking only the people who are closest to you or those who never challenge you is a mistake.

2. Guarantee “immunity” and be prepared to listen proactively.

Make it very explicit that there will be no negative consequences for a staff member being candid, open, and honest with you through the review. Everyone should feel relaxed and not threatened if you want truly constructive feedback.

Your body language during each session should communicate that you are taking it all in and not being judgmental about what you’re hearing. Your questions should seek further clarification and/or amplification on a particular observation, nothing more and nothing less.

3. Structure the conversation and ask for balanced remarks.

You will also cover more ground if you tell each staff member what items you would like to cover before getting started. And stick to the agenda!

Don’t allow yourself or your reviewer to wander off the topic at hand. You should also ask (and ask again) for both the pros and cons.

Even though you’ve already established immunity, you will still need to prompt staff members to share insights that may be critical or not so positive about your performance.

4. Don’t be defensive and synthesize the feedback.

Pushing back against what’s being shared with you is a non-starter. If you do, your team will shut down and it will be even more difficult the next time (if ever) that you try to conduct a review. Additionally, word will travel fast that you’re not accepting the feedback being offered.

If you execute these reviews in a professional and forthright way, you will have gathered plenty of information that will point out obvious points about your performance. “The good, the bad, and the ugly” will present itself and give you a road map for further growth to becoming a first class manager.

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About the Author

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Buff Parham is a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He believes that hard work matters and that raising the bar and having greater expectations tend to generate greater results. In his spare time, Buff finds cooking and playing golf to be two of the best therapies for a somewhat hectic existence!

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Topics: sales manager, feedback