As a business leader, you want to know that you’re hearing from your people about what’s going well, what’s not going well, and what you could do differently so that your ship can reach your shared vision. The problem is when you ask for feedback, you’re often not doing it in a way where people feel safe giving feedback. So how can you create an environment to get Fearless Feedback?

This is a topic that I talk to with my clients all the time. “I just want to know that I’m being responsive, that I’m able to hear what’s on the people’s hearts and minds so that I can shape things so that we can all perform better.”

If you understand that feedback is important to what you’re trying to create but you’re not sure you’re getting “fearless” feedback, let’s take a look at what you’re doing to get feedback.

The most common mistake that I see business leaders making when they’re trying to collect opinions and ideas from their people is that they’re not asking in a way that promotes safety. If you are asking folks to rate the current meeting and you’re still present at the meeting, do people really feel safe giving you their feedback? Even if it’s just a simple, “on a scale of 1 to 10, what did you think about today’s meeting?” I’m just not sure that people are going to give you their honest opinion. The other thing I see leaders doing that doesn’t seem as effective as it could be is offering surveys that don’t ask the right questions. If it’s anonymous and people trust that it’s anonymous, you want to ask open-ended questions so that people feel like they could take the time to pour their hearts out and that they are going to be heard. But if you are asking really shallow questions, you’re probably going to get really shallow answers. My suggestion is to ask open-ended questions.

Whether in meetings or in person — everywhere in your workplace — if there isn’t already an effort to promote emotional safety for people to have a voice and to share their voice, that needs to be established before you start surveying your people.

So my suggestion for getting Fearless Feedback:

Create an environment of safety

The timing and nature of the questions can change how our people feel about providing answers to your questions.

Ask open-ended questions

  • What do you think we could have done better?
  • What would you like to see that you’re not seeing in our meetings?
  • What topics would you like us to cover in upcoming meetings?
  • How can we support you?

Do something with the feedback you get

You need to establish that when you are offering opportunities for feedback, that it will be heard and acted upon. Then once the feedback is reviewed by management, report the things that will be done differently based on this feedback. Express your appreciation for them taking the time to provide this feedback so that you can all grow, because when the level of the sea rises, all ships rise.

No feedback is better than feedback that isn’t the truth. You want your people to feel like they have a voice. If you have a unified vision that galvanizes action, that is really what’s going to help people feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves. We all want to know, “Where’s this ship headed, and what is my part in getting us there?” So establish a vision, create a culture of safety, ask for feedback, and then let that Fearless Feedback guide the ship.

I hope you enjoy these leadership tips, and I’m excited about what we’re going to create together in the future.