Without honest team feedback, a team effort may fail to reach its goal or fully meet its potential. So what can a team leader do to encourage candid feedback? Here are 9 tips to elicit honest team feedback and create a positive, effective team culture.
Let’s be upfront. Even though team feedback is an important aspect of work, school, and play, getting honest feedback may not always be easy. Even though feedback helps direct an individual’s actions on a path that leads to improvement and growth, people don’t like saying it how it is. Often team members may have a loyalty to the feedback target, fear reprisal (especially if they are criticizing their boss), or simply lack the skills or confidence to speak up.
1. Stop being “nice”
Every time you can’t say no, avoid conflict and let people repeat mistakes, you are deepening your status quo. Inside everyone there is a “kick-ass” super-hero waiting to be set free – let them see the light of day. Start saying no, start having dis-agreements and take action when people make mistakes.
2. Be clear
With any job or team, knowing what is involved, and what is expected is a key element to providing an environment where each team member feels comfortable, and a part of the team.
Knowing what each individual team member is responsible for, and team objectives, enables focus, and camaraderie. In addition, it’s important that team members know honest team feedback will be expected. The team should be made aware that both positive and improvement feedback should be offered and received when warranted.
3. Keep Talking
It’s important for team members to feel free to ask questions and to be kept informed of progress, setbacks, and other team related business. Have regular meetings to discuss what’s been done, what needs to be done, to answer any pending questions, and to address problems. This will be most successful if there is regular communication outside the team too, with skip level meetings, town halls for wider teams and meetings with internal and external customers.
4. Be constructive not destructive
As a manager, you must regularly let members know if they are accomplishing what is expected of them, and encourage them to self-rate too. It’s also essential to realize the difference between constructive feedback and destructive criticism – as team leader be sure your feedback is always constructive and if at all possible preceded and succeeded by positive feedback.
5. Listen to your team
Along with knowing what is expected and how things are going, each member needs the opportunity to provide input. A team should freely allow for suggestions and ideas from all members. Obviously, the final decision about a particular aspect of the job will often fall on the team leader, but a wise team leader listens carefully to all input before making final decisions. And, on non mission critical decisions, go with your team’s decision, even if you think there is a better solution. You might be surprised!
6. Encourage honest behavior – even when you’re seeing red
It’s always a good idea to show the desired behavior by example. And, let the team know that it will only be through honest and constructive feedback that the team will accomplish their objectives.
You should also encourage each member to view his own performance with honesty and objectivity, and to accept sincere feedback in the helpful manner that it is presented.
7. Create Team Spirit and Relationships
Members of a team should feel as though they are members of a team. Team effort and camaraderie are key to a successful team. This doesn’t mean that members have to best friends forever, rather, it means they should be looking out for one another, be supportive, and helpful to each other.
8. Meet Conflicts Head on
Any group of people will end up having conflicts – it’s human nature. It should be explained that conflicts are to be handled openly and at the time they occur. You don’t want a member sitting on a problem, letting it fester. As team leader it is part of your responsibility to be aware of conflicts (if possible), and to act as a mediator/resolver if necessary.
9. Provide Regular Formal and Informal Assessments
The team will want to know how they are performing as a team and individually. This is part of communications – keep the team and each team member informed. This will be both formal, as part of your appraisal process, and informal, with questions such as “1 thing I did well, 1 thing I didn’t do well and 1 thing I would do differently next time”
These 9 tips will help ensure a successful team, and they will allow for honest team feedback. Being part of a team that has clarity, open communication, trust and honesty by example, allows member input, handles problems openly and quickly, and that has team spirit, will promote confidence that each worker is a valued team member.
If a team member feels secure in his position in the team, and realizes it is the team effort that will afford success, he will feel secure in offering honest team feedback.
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