Building trust through constructive feedback

by Nkem Mpamah

After working with several business leaders and professionals, I have recognised that a great number of executives and managers struggle immensely with the use of effective feedback as a tool to improve performance and promote organisational growth.

There is no doubt that giving feedback to employees is a useful tool you can use to train your team and raise awareness of their strengths and weaknesses. It also helps to identify the steps they can take to make reasonable improvements in their work. Providing feedback in communication helps to increase confidence and team performance.

Over the years, my experience is that most business leaders are not adept at giving the type of communication feedback that promotes change and enhances growth. Knowing what I know today, and looking back to my days in active employment, I realised that some of my managers didn’t bother to give feedback for varying reasons. 

I discovered that the same reasons that kept my managers from embracing this powerful leadership tool apply to many leaders today. Does it apply to you?

Why are you not giving feedback?

  1. You don’t want to be perceived by your subordinates or colleagues as being confrontational, so you prefer to “let the sleeping dog lie”;
  2. You are afraid that you might get disliked;
  3. Like many leaders, you don’t know how to give a constructive feedback because you haven’t been exposed to a leadership mastery process in order to develop the skill. 

There are no easy ways to provide feedback or become competent in giving feedback except by actually doing it. You would agree that the best way to become a leader in any market or industry is to spend time in developing oneself in an area of competitive advantage. This personal development discipline is usually the thin line between success and failure.

How to improve your ability to give feedback?

1. Decide exactly what you want

The starting point in developing an effective feedback skill (as in everything else) begins with your ability to look inward, identify the need, and make a decision to change the way things are.

Think about the consequences of not helping your team to become aware of their strengths and weaknesses and improving their performance. How does this affect your own performance as a leader?

Also, think about how things would be if you decided to take responsibility to support your employees and help them to perform at their peak. The moment you decided to learn how to give constructive feedback and overcome your fear of the negative perception of other people, you have overcome most hurdles. It all begins with your personal decision.

2. Get some training

Paraphrasing Jim Rohn, formal education will make you a living, while self-education makes you a fortune. If you see yourself as a true leader now or in the future, you need to develop the ability to communicate openly and honestly with your team. Great leaders are not afraid of speaking about the “white elephant” in the meeting room. Instead, they develop courage to evaluate how well the elephant has helped to increase performance, productivity, and growth within the organisation, while recommending ways it could perform better.

Effective leaders are good in communication and one aspect of effective communication is learning how to give feedback. if you want to improve your leadership skill in this area I will encourage you to find a good leadership skills development coach that will support you with genuine accountability to develop the necessary components that will help you to become effective in delivering constructive feedback to your team, both in formal and informal settings.

3. When you start going, keep going

In my work with organisations and leaders, I have discovered that the best way to apply learning is to just do it. The moment you decide to improve your leadership skills through personal development training, you must start immediately to practice what you learnt until you see the required improvement. Practice, they say, makes improvement.

As it is widely believed that the taste of the pudding is in the eating, the miracles of knowledge and wisdom are in the application of learning. So you will need to engage in constructive discussion with your colleagues and teams everyday and do your best to listen actively to understand their points of view. You cannot be great at giving feedback if you do not first of all understand other persons' point of view. You can leverage the power of active listening to learn how to give constructive feedback.

In conclusion, the moment you start to train, you could find it useful to measure your effectiveness in a variety of ways essentially by enlisting the support of others to genuinely provide feedback on your performance. This will help you to keep track of your progress.

There is no doubt that you will build a successful profitable and sustainable business if you help your teams to develop awareness of their strengths and the areas they need to make further improvements towards increasing organizational performance.

is CEO and Founder of Cognition Global Concepts, a Cambridge-based firm working with business organizations and leaders who are struggling to improve their effectiveness, increase productivity, and profit margins. Nkem also works with teams whose objectives are misaligned from their company’s missions, visions, and values to create alignment and build coherent sustainable organiation.

If you have found this piece useful and have any questions or need further clarifications on growing your business, feel free to contact Nkem by email at info@cognitionglobal.com.

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