4 Reasons You’re Not Getting The Feedback You Need

by  Karin Hurt  |  Leadership Development
4 Reasons You’re Not Getting The Feedback You Need

He oozed with confidence as he shared his techniques and stories. I wrote down most of what he said. Until his next words, which turned my attitude of respect to annoyance. 

“Oh, I never look at smile sheets. Frankly, I never listen to unsolicited feedback. If I want to improve, I’ll ask people I know well and respect”

Of course the obvious implication is that he did not respect the prestigious audience to whom he was currently presenting. I looked on the table. Nope. No smile sheets. Apparently he’d nipped that in the bud.

He then launched into advice on how to use Twitter. I positioned my smartphone under the table. As I suspected, nearly 10K Twitter followers. He follows no one. I cringed as folks wrote down what he said.

My friend laughed as we approached our post seminar lunch. Can’t wait to hear what Ms. Confident Humility has to say. “I’d never hire him,” I shared matter-of-factly. Neither would she. He’d lost us at I know.

4 Reasons You’re Not Getting the Feedback You Need

This was not his first rodeo, and I’m quite sure he didn’t need my work. But I wondered who else he was turning off with his “I’m perfect just the way I am” stance. I’m in the opposite camp. I always want to hear the feedback. What I do next is up to me.

  1. You Make It Clear You Don’t Want It – It’s not usually this obvious. But I’ve seen many executives and managers take this stance. They work so hard to APPEAR confident and decisive that they send off a clear signal that no feedback is necessary. No words are needed to have this impact. Your body language and facial expressions can do it for you. If you’re serious about being a great leader, stay sincerely open to improving and role model this behavior for others.
  2. You’re Not Asking – I was recently interviewed for a Time Magazine article, 5 Questions to Ask When Looking For Feedback. If this is a struggle for you, try out these questions.
  3. You React Poorly – I see this all the time. An employee asks their team, or peers, or their boss for feedback, only to get defensive at the response. Your first best response to feedback is thank you. If you need clarifying questions be sure they are in a spirit of seeking to understand and not confrontation. If you need time to regroup before asking more, say thank you and come back later.
  4. You Over-Do It – I’ve had employees wear me out with their constant (let’s call it what it is “needy”) request for feedback at every turn. Give the feedback some time to steep before asking again. See also Developmental Deluge

Great leaders make it easy for people to give them feedback. They understand that leadership is never handled or done. It is an ongoing process. If you get one of these leaders, fantastic. If you don’t, hopefully these four tips will help you make the most of your feedback experience.

What recommendations do you have for getting the feedback you need?
Photo Credit: rtf123

About The Author

Articles By karin-hurt
Karin Hurt is a leadership speaker, consultant and MBA professor. She’s a former Verizon Wireless executive with 2 decades of diverse cross-functional experience in sales, customer service and HR. She was recently recognized on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Speakers for your next conference, AMA’s 50 Leaders to Watch in 2015, and Trust Across America’s 100 Thought Leaders in Trusted Business Behavior.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Page Cole  |  02 Apr 2015  |  Reply

Great article… I have a question… any tips for those people who have trouble with their feelings showing up on their face? Sometimes there is a poor reaction, but it’s non-verbal. Any tips on how I can encourage someone with that challenge?

karin hurt  |  02 Apr 2015  |  Reply

I think it best to point it out. “I can see by the look on your face you are upset… why don’t I give you a chance to think about this and we can schedule a time for a follow-up conversation.”

John E. Smith  |  10 Apr 2015  |  Reply

Hi, Karen – catching up on my overdue reading:)

This is a strong post about feedback, from both the aspect of how we sabotage the value of receiving it and from consideration of how to appropriately increase the feedback (i.e. gift) that we receive.

Your lead story reminds me of a CEO I once worked for, who was so certain of her own ability to self-evaluate that she felt very comfortable ignoring the data I faithfully and consistently collected and presented to her. Sometimes the person who needs to hear other’s perceptions most is the one who is least interested.

Your comment about reacting poorly also rang true with me. I know I have had to work on listening to the perceptions of others regarding my performance without becoming defensive (or as I call it, “explaining myself”). This is an Achille’s Heel for many of us. We are trained and developed to become self-confident and independent leaders, but nobody helps us become open to what might be said. I envy those who more naturally have this ability.

Thanks for an engaging and thoughtful contribution:).


Join The Conversation