How many of you would like your manager to tell you what you want you want to hear rather than what you need to hear? Not one person raised their hand. Everyone wants to know the truth, no matter how difficult it is to hear. But even though we want to hear honest and direct feedback, we generally don’t look on those occasions with much joy or pleasure.
Most people can come up with several traumatic stories from their pasts where they have given or received negative feedback. These negative experiences embed themselves into our psyche and become a source of anxiety. On the other hand, most people can also come up with an experience where a person gave them helpful feedback that contributed to a marked improvement in their effectiveness and influenced their success. I have always tried to help people see that whether the feedback is critical or positive it is a gift.
Strong employee engagement is closely aligned with the ability to give honest feedback in a helpful way. A recent study of 22,719 leaders showed that those who ranked at the bottom 10% in their ability to give honest feedback to direct reports received engagement scores from their subordinates that averaged 25 percent. It is quite obvious that these employees detested their jobs, their commitment was low and they regularly thought about quitting. In contrast, those in the top 10% for giving honest feedback had subordinates who ranked at the 77th percentile in engagement.
The ability to give and receive feedback is one of the most important leadership skills.
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