If you’re not a fan of constructive criticism, you’re not alone.

It can be extremely uncomfortable and sometimes a little awkward to hear feedback on your performance. However, getting feedback is an unavoidable step to growing and supporting your team as a manager.

Getting constructive feedback is all about asking the right questions, keeping an open mind, and using a feedback tool like Fellow to make the conversation just a little bit easier for everyone. If you strive for this way of thinking and show you are open to feedback, then you’re encouraging your team to do the same.

It’s common for managers to struggle with taking the feedback they receive and implementing it. Consider these steps when doing so.

Why feedback is good for managers, too

No matter how high someone climbs up the corporate ladder, it’s always important to receive consistent feedback, especially for managers with a team of direct reports.

For starters, feedback can be used for continuous improvement, and who doesn’t want to be a part of an organization that’s always looking to improve? As a manager, asking for constructive feedback or being curious about improving shows your team you’re willing to learn and grow. Feedback also helps managers see their actions and behaviors from the perspective of their direct reports.

In addition to fostering continuous improvement, feedback can be a positive way to accommodate a team’s needs. Providing employees with the time to give their manager feedback allows them to express what they currently don’t have but need to do their job to the best of their ability. During this time, a manager may learn their team is approaching burnout or discover ways to help improve their employees’ day-to-day experiences. 

Finally, creating a place where feedback culture is encouraged means that employees always know their thoughts, opinions, suggestions, solutions, and ideas are wanted and heard. No one is afraid to speak up or is discouraged from sharing feedback with others, especially with their manager.

Write it down

Documenting feedback, the good and bad, will allow you to easily refer back to what was said and what needs actioning. Try a feedback tool like Fellow!

Feedback Feature Fellow

Steps to take before, during, and after receiving feedback: 

As a manager, there’s a right way and a wrong way to receive feedback from others. Follow these steps before, during, and after receiving feedback to make sure you’re prepared, accepting the feedback given, and putting the feedback into action.

Before:

First, it’s in your best interest to prepare to receive feedback. What this looks like may vary from person to person, but when it comes to hearing feedback about yourself, you can never be sure exactly what you’re going to hear. So, be mentally ready to potentially hear something that criticizes your managing style or how you do your work. Check your ego at the door and be prepared to sit back and listen.

Next, schedule one-on-ones or feedback meetings. Here, you’ll let your employees or direct reports know that you’re seeking their feedback as a way to improve and grow as a manager. During these conversations, be transparent regarding why you’re asking for feedback and what you’re looking to gain from it. It’s extremely important to stress that, no matter what’s said, there won’t be any repercussions or consequences. 

Finally, remember that everyone’s way of giving feedback is different, so give options to your team. These options may include making feedback anonymous, if that’s preferred by your team, or allowing feedback to be written or verbal, depending on your team’s comfort level.

During:

When you’re getting feedback, it’s crucial that you document what’s being said. Having a tool like Fellow makes this easy so no one forgets what’s said, and so there’s a record of the conversation. If an employee is concerned about the record and having their name attached to the feedback, reiterate that feedback can be anonymous and that there won’t be any consequences to what is shared.

Once the conversation is over or the feedback is shared via survey software, say thank you. Remember that not everyone is comfortable giving feedback! Managers should also be gratuitous of the time and effort that their team members put  into thinking about what to say.

Wrap up the discussion by asking any questions you may have. As you follow up with questions or ask for examples, try to assume positive intent and keep your emotions in check. 

After:

After the feedback conversation has ended, it’s up to you how you want to move forward. When you assess the feedback, decide what you want to change based on the feedback. Ask yourself what you can be doing better or what you can change to bring the feedback into reality.

Once you’ve decided how to proceed, make an action plan. What the plan consists of will depend on the type of feedback you’ve been given, but it could entail setting milestones and goals for yourself.

Managers should also express gratitude to their team again so everyone knows you’re thankful they took the time to provide feedback. Tell them what you’re working on and how you implemented their feedback.

Finally, schedule a follow-up conversation. Doing so not only ensures accountability, but also opens up the conversation for continuous feedback.

How to implement feedback

Deciding you want to implement feedback is one thing, but actually doing it is another. Here are five steps to follow as you go about using the feedback you’ve received to improve as a manager.

1 Compare the responses

After you’ve asked for feedback and have collected the responses, take the time to compare the answers you receive. Are there any similarities? If more than one of your team members has given feedback that expresses their dislike for weekly meetings, maybe it’s time to do things differently.

Or, if feedback from multiple reports shares concerns regarding team members’ tasks and responsibilities, consider taking some projects off their plate to avoid burnout. 

2 Detect patterns

Detecting patterns in the feedback you receive becomes possible the more you ask for and receive it. The more often you encourage your direct reports to share their thoughts with you, the more likely  it is that patterns may emerge.

For example, after annual performance reviews, take a look at the feedback from the previous year and see if there are patterns. The goal here is to find a pattern of improvement. You don’t want to find a pattern of the same negative thing being said over and over, since this would just show that you haven’t made any effort to make things right.

3 Develop a strategy

Once you’ve compared the responses and cross-referenced for patterns, it’s time to create a plan of action. Consider the feedback you’ve been given and how you can set new and exciting goals for yourself. Identity the steps you need to take to address these points and make any necessary changes.

For example, if you’ve set yourself the goal of managing a new and exciting project in the new year, but the feedback you’ve been given from your colleagues mentions you being distracted during meetings, or your behavior getting worse when you’re especially stressed out, maybe it’s time to focus on adjusting your leadership skills. 

Having a strategy that directly correlates to how you plan to act on the feedback you’ve been given sets you up for success!

4 Share your plan

Once your plan for implementing this feedback is complete, don’t forget to share it with your team. Doing so provides a sense of accountability, because if you tell your team there will be new changes on the horizon, you’ll need to back these claims up with action! 

Plus, sharing details of your strategy with those who gave you the feedback can lead to even more ideas you may not have considered. Maybe your team has a better idea how you can improve your management style or leadership skills.

5 Ask for support

Rome wasn’t built in a day — and feedback isn’t implemented overnight. Don’t forget to ask your team for support in making these changes. Whether this support looks like guidance or encouragement, have them let you know if they see you slip up or go back on your word.

In addition to asking for support, ask that your team show you a bit of patience. Making significant changes can be difficult, and sometimes change looks like “two steps forward and one step back.”

The more you know!

Asking for and receiving feedback can sometimes be a little awkward or uncomfortable. It’s important to remember that feedback from your direct reports and other team members is necessary if you want to improve as a manager. Remember to leave your ego out of it and not get too emotional about what might be said. 

There’s always room for improvement, and without implementing feedback from your team, you’ll likely struggle to truly earn their trust and respect. If you’re all communicating honestly and openly, everyone will feel happy and heard.