4 Manager Feedback Skills to Minimize Defensiveness and Increase Receptivity

“23% of employees strongly agree that their manager provides meaningful feedback to them.”

-Gallup

Most managers admit that providing inspiring and meaningful feedback that leads to employee commitment is hard. It does not have to be!

Part of the solution is avoiding communication traps that cause defensiveness or confusion. Another part is applying skills that increase receptivity to suggestions.

Avoid these common communication traps:

  • Being too direct and harsh
  • Being too vague and mushy
  • Being overly critical of faults
  • Failing to acknowledge strengths
  • Not establishing a personal relationship (feels transactional)
  • Feedback given is not actionable

“Only 17% of millennials report receiving meaningful feedback. Routine feedback is better than none, but meaningful feedback — the kind that helps individuals learn, grow, and do their jobs better — is how you improve productivity and performance.”

-Gallup

4 skills that minimize defensiveness and increase receptivity:

  1. Ask for permission
    • “Hi Latisha, can I share my thoughts on how we are collaborating on the current project?”
    • It signals that feedback is coming, making them better prepared to receive.
    • Why this works: Employee autonomy is a key motivational driver, gives them a feeling of choice and control.
  2. Provide specifics
    • “The last two updates you provided lacked key data.”
    • Why this works: Our brains crave certainty, ambiguity is the enemy.
  3.  Share impacts of the behavior.
    • “The missing data caused the project to get behind and frustrated me as I had to hunt the data down.”
    • Gives them context, helps to connect the dots.
    • Provides a big picture cause and effect.
    • Why this works: Injects emotion, helping to humanize the feedback.
  4.  Invite collaboration, ask questions
    • “How do you see the situation and what ideas do you have for moving forward?”
    • Builds a trusting, authentic partnership.
    • Empowers them to take responsibility.
    • Why this works: Inspires new commitments.

Start providing quality and consistent feedback by avoiding common feedback traps and applying the four skills above. Your team members will appreciate more meaningful conversations that support their growth, and you will have less stress!

Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Definitely keep it inspiring. –Steve

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