broken and cracked glass

“You are hurting your organization.”

“What are you kidding I am putting my heart and soul into this place and you are implying I am hurting the organization?”


How you responded to this statement may be the indicator. Defensive and reluctant to hear feedback. Boil this down to a single essential question: How do you get your feedback?

This one question has a lot behind it. Here are several thoughts to guide you in analyzing the feedback you are getting:

What do I need to know?

Who is not talking to me?

What are they holding back?

Why are they not talking to me?

A cursory analysis usually turns up thoughts such as:  I have my regular meetings with my team for updates. Everyone is engaging and I don’t see my team holding back.

That’s my point, it is not easy for us to detect the feedback we need and are not receiving.

Folks are not avoiding you and not talking to you. They are physically there. However, they just are not willing to share everything they should with you. “The whole truth and nothing but the truth…”

How to get good feedback? My thoughts on this come from my personal experience and that of my clients. Make it easy for you team to give you feedback by considering these principles:

  • Ask for it.
  • Openly demonstrate you want by visibly participating.
  • Act on it.

A personal example, when I was a commanding officer of a Marine Corps aviation squadron my safety officer came to me talk about safety issues brought to him by aircrew. I asked what was going on? He said it’s about me. That set me back. A couple of aircrew went to him saying I was pushing the mission too hard at the expense of safety.  Whoa, did not see that coming.

My response; we called an all aircrew meeting that afternoon. In that meeting we had a “true confessions” session about aircrew safety. I led off the discussion talking about the concerns brought to me. Then we moved on to other safety issues that anyone had. That meeting brought to the forefront concerns I was totally unaware of. The result, we became a better and safer squadron that day.

Easy? Far from it. Beneficial, you bet. It reflected how I was leading and revealed some of my blind spots. The aircrew was reluctant to tell me what I needed to hear. I was hurting the squadron. Moving forward our aircrew talked more openly about how we were operating. Aviation squadrons are always pretty good at giving feedback, this took us to a new level and made me much more aware of how I was leading.

What about you?  What info do you need? I think there are three main areas all leaders need feedback on:

  • How you are leading?
  • What your team needs from you?
  • What they do not need from you?

In getting the feedback be an active participant. We hear a lot about vulnerability, particularly from Brene’ Brown. Be vulnerable. You don’t need to have all the answers. You need to help the organization get to the right answers. Act on the feedback. Feedback with no action is like a tree falling in the woods with no one to hear it.

I will leave you with an example of a very successful leader asking for feedback, actively participating in getting the feedback, and taking action based on the feedback.

Scott Cook, the Founder and CEO of Intuit, in this video talks about getting a 360-degree evaluation from his team.

Are you hurting your organization and don’t know it? What do you need to know?