How Do Leaders Get Actionable Feedback? A Method That You Can Use This Week

I’m sure that you appreciate the value of feedback and in previous editions of this newsletter, we’ve talked about methods for delivering feedback in the right way and a specific feedback framework called SBIA.

But, what about receiving feedback? Of course, delivering feedback to your team is a crucial part of your role. The only way to really get better as a manager is to get feedback from your team, yet how often do you think about it and receive it?

Whilst feedback is hugely important to you, receiving it from your team can be tricky because, well, you’re their boss. 

I’ve found this personally difficult for a long time now because I’m not only a manager of people, but I’m also a co-founder and CEO. So technically, I’m everyone’s boss. So getting feedback from a wide range of people within my team, let alone from the wider company, is tricky. 

I’m sure that, like me, you’re not perfect at your role, so surely there is some feedback that you should be hearing and acting on?!

There is one exception to this which I want to share with you today. It’s a remarkably simple framework and almost forces your team into giving feedback that is not only useful, but also very actionable for you. 

Let’s take a look at it.

Start, stop and keep

Here are the three questions that you can ask your team when seeking useful and actionable feedback:

  • What’s the one thing that I should start doing?
  • What’s the one thing that I should stop doing?
  • What’s the one thing that I should keep doing?

That’s it. Simple, right?

It’s almost too simple which is why, for quite a while after I first came across these questions, I didn’t bother to use them. 

Now, I’ll ask my direct reports this question at least once a year (usually around Christmas before I take some time off and think about improvements for the following year). 

Don’t do what I did and delay using them. But if you do need some convincing, here are some solid reasons why these are great questions to ask.

You’re only asking for one thing in each question: you’re not asking for masses and masses of feedback. You’re only asking for one thing that you can do better for each question and this can be delivered alongside a message of “surely you can think of just one thing that I can do better” – which, it turns out, most people can!

The answers will be very actionable and specific: the questions are asked in such a way that it’s pretty likely that you’ll receive answers that aren’t too abstract or generic. Each question focuses on actions that you should either start, stop or keep doing – so the answers will be actionable no matter what.

The questions acknowledge that you’re not perfect: each question implies that you need to change something about your behaviour i.e. you need to start doing something, stop doing something or keep doing something. As a manager, it can be easy for your team to assume that you know everything and that you don’t need to change anything about what you do. These questions go against that flawed thinking.

You don’t need to ask very often: of course, you can ask these questions as often as you want, but in order to be useful, you don’t need to ask them every week or even every month. As I mentioned, I tend to ask them once a year or so, but even once a quarter would still yield plenty of useful feedback. So you’re not trying to get feedback all of the time, making your task even harder, you can ask it a few times a year. 

So, this week, if you want to go and get some useful feedback from your team, send these questions to them and see what you get back. I bet that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the answers. 

Let me know how you get on!

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