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.