Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Getting and Giving Feedback That Encourages Change

Last week, I wrote about why leaders should encourage their employees to take their vacation time. Following my own advice, I’m taking a vacation break this week from writing for my blog. As such, I would like to present this guest post written by Jessica Edmondson.

Have you ever worked in a place where you didn’t feel confidence in whether or not you were performing your job properly and never felt comfortable enough to ask your manager for his/her opinion? What if you are the manager and don’t feel too comfortable approaching employees to talk about things you’d like them to change?

At one time or another we’ve all been in a position where a lack of open dialogue has left a dreadful feeling of anxiety. Getting rid of that anxiety and finding the ability to perform your job confidently can be a challenge. But when it comes to your job, it’s how you choose to handle opening the lines of communication that can make all the difference in the world.

Of course, many believe that if they are not in charge, then it’s not their place to be assertive or take action to open the lines of communication. The reality, though, is that this couldn’t be further from the truth as all of us have the ability to influence others and foster change that would help move our team forward.

To this end, here are three ways of how you can seize the moment and help encourage change in your workplace, regardless of what role or position you have in your organization.

1. Take notes and share thoughts
When you see a situation arise that you know can benefit from better communication, take notes and share your thoughts with the appropriate people at a later time.

One scenario that would especially benefit from this type of note-taking is a project lifecycle. As you start on a project, keep notes of what happens (both good and bad) all the way from the planning process to completion. While taking notes, remember to insert your own thoughts on what could be improved, as well as why you think something did or didn’t work.

After you’ve gathered all of your notes, organize them into a short presentation and call a meeting for key players to attend. In some arenas this is called a post-mortem. These types of meetings have proven to be beneficial in helping co-workers to bond over their project’s successes and pitfalls, as well as to get them to feel more comfortable in communicating with one another when the next project starts.

Chances are some of your other co-workers wanted to express some of these same feelings and ideas, but never felt comfortable enough to do so.

2. Have weekly or monthly meetings
This type of meeting allows a group of co-workers who work on projects together to communicate directly with their managers and each other about their workload and performance. This is a great way for everyone to have a “check-in” and see what projects are being worked on while building up a little camaraderie. It’s also the perfect avenue for team members to voice concerns if they need help with something or feel a deadline may be threatened.

Another use for these meetings is to perform exercises that help strengthen job skills – from team-building exercises to brain teasers. They also allow for a little stress relief while still exercising the brain.

If you are a manager, create a time slot for this meeting and invite your key players. If you are an employee, go ahead and suggest this to your manager. If you don’t feel comfortable making the suggestion directly, you can always send an email. While crafting the email, insert a bit of supporting information about why having this kind of meeting will be beneficial to the team. Even if it doesn’t work out remember, it never hurts to try.

3. Do not speak with your actions
This may sound strange at first, but the saying is true, “Actions speak louder than words.” If a negative issue begins to present itself, do not let an odd facial expression or poor body language lead to an uncomfortable situation with your co-workers. If there is a problem in the workplace, not talking about it will likely cause more issues in the long run.

These are just three simple ways to help give and receive feedback that can facilitate positive change within your organization. Of course there are many more, so think of implementing one or more of these suggestions as a kick start to forming a more cohesive and enjoyable working environment.

Jessica Edmondson works for Bisk Education, a division in the University Alliance, which collaborates with educational organizations to develop online education programs. Some of their partners include Florida Tech, University of Notre Dame, and University of San Francisco. Currently, her work focuses on the Strategic Leadership and Management certificate now being offered through Michigan State University.

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  1. On July 17th, 2012 at 7:56 PM billquiseng.com said:

    The number one employee complaint of leadership is lack of or inconsistent communication. And without communication, sadly, employees tend to fill in the void with worst case scenarios. And without employee involvement there is no commitment to the change. Jessica offers three communication techniques to keep employees involved. Smart leaders will make her common sense advice common practice.

    Thanks for sharing, Tanveer.

  2. On July 17th, 2012 at 10:54 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    My pleasure, Bill; I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this piece. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on this. Appreciate it.

  3. On July 18th, 2012 at 2:57 PM Diego said:

    If there is a problem in the workplace, not talking about it will likely cause more issues in the long run.

  4. On July 20th, 2012 at 6:17 AM Jim Matorin said:

    It always amuses me that when I ask someone if they are in the receiving mood of some feedback they cringe and think something bad is coming. I think organizations would benefit on conducting training with some of their key personnel on the art of feedback, such a critical sensitive area.

  5. On July 20th, 2012 at 10:53 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    It's unfortunate how for many the concept of feedback has been stigmatized as being something negative and unwelcome. Agree with you, Jim, that people should be more informed and aware of how to give feedback effectively so that both parties benefit from the interaction.

  6. On July 20th, 2012 at 2:46 PM @TheMngmtCoach said:

    I was worried at first that this post was going to be about how to reduce defenses, say the right thing, and then expect behaviour change. Jessica took an unexpected and welcome twist on the subject of feedback, making it more about team communication and awareness than individual behavioural awareness. Thanks for the reminder that feedback is as much for teams as it is for individuals.

  7. On July 21st, 2012 at 2:19 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    You're welcome, Mary. Glad you enjoyed this guest piece by Jessica.

  8. On July 23rd, 2012 at 1:32 AM Kent Julian said:

    Getting and giving authentic feedback allows for genuinely engagement, creates awareness for change, and facilitates healthy dialogue. Excellent pointers here, Tanveer!

  9. On July 24th, 2012 at 10:07 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Kent; glad you enjoyed it.

  10. On July 24th, 2012 at 2:22 AM Shasha said:

    To provide feedback then we will know what the problem is happening .. and help us in solving the problem .. but many people do not like to give feedback because they do not want to engage more deeply in a problem. Thanks Mr. Naseer for your great article.

  11. On August 6th, 2012 at 8:46 PM Jack Trades said:

    I always encourage people to give me feedback and I'm also trying to do the same thing for them, especially when we belong to the same team.

  12. On August 7th, 2012 at 7:10 AM Holly said:

    One thing that I think I am having a hard time maintaining is having "Have weekly or monthly meetings" . I usually don't meet up my team.

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