Actionable Feedback is Critical in Developing Leaders
March 9, 2022
3 minute read – High-performing organizations need high-performing people, and people need feedback to fully develop into high performers.
In our work with financial institutions, we have found that leaders are often unaware of how they are coming across to people and the impact they have on their team. Even if they are aware of a disconnect between their intentions and people’s reactions, they may be hard-pressed to tell you why. Addressing these disconnects is crucial for building better leaders, but this can only happen when they are made aware of the things they don’t see, and this requires honest and actionable feedback.
People consistently tell us that they would rather receive feedback than give it. Many are not only open to feedback, but they’re starved for it. Organizations need more people giving feedback in a productive way, but this is an area that can cause great discomfort and actually goes against the culture in some cases.
Many people have an almost instinctive fear of conflict and are extremely uncomfortable treading where an observation might be viewed as a personal attack. While it’s true that feedback should be delivered carefully, giving too little feedback deprives the organization of better leaders and greater bench strength.
As an example, a CIO might be surprised to learn that other leaders feel like the CIO uses a lot of jargon to confuse and stop people from asking questions. A CFO might be shocked to hear that several board members mentally check out every time the CFO talks because they can’t follow all the ratios that fast. Neither leader may intend these perceptions and outcomes – they may both be superb strategic thinkers who are experts in their areas.
With some intentional skill-building and practice in concise, pertinent, and compelling storytelling, they might become great communicators, but they cannot address the issues until they are made aware.
No one can improve their performance if they are unaware of their weaknesses. Organizations that strive to be high-performing often prioritize skills development. One skill that deserves some focus is giving and receiving honest and actionable feedback. But beyond the skill, practice may be even more important.
Practice is what makes it possible to help both givers and receivers become more comfortable so the feedback can be used effectively. As with so many organizational practices, it needs to be modeled from the top to set the tone and demonstrate the desired behaviors. The bottom line is that high-performing organizations need high-performing people, and people need feedback to fully develop into high performers.