Creating a culture of feedback is a crucial best practice for first-level leaders.
Giving and seeking honest and meaningful feedback provides you with insight into your blind spots and opens the lines of communication with your team.
When it comes to our biases, it’s important to get feedback on how we are perceived and how our actions and decisions might be impacting others. In your role as a first-level leader, it can be very challenging for your team members to give you feedback on biases that might be impacting your decision and behaviors. This feedback can also be challenging to hear—your instinct might be to get defensive, accuse them of being too sensitive or dismiss your team’s perceptions based on your good intent.
So how do we get around these instincts?
Consider giving your team an opportunity to provide feedback through anonymous surveys or assessments. Something as simple as SurveyMonkey or as complex as a full 360° assessment can open an avenue for your team to give open and clear feedback without the worry of retribution or some other backlash.
The survey could ask simple questions like: Do they perceive you to behave fairly? Do they perceive you to have bias? Is there anything that you can work on as it relates to building an inclusive work environment? If they had a challenge, how likely would they be to seek out your counsel?
There is one big caveat to asking for feedback—you have to be willing to take action on what you receive.
I heard someone once say, “an open door is not a policy, it’s just a door.” Creating a culture of feedback requires intentional effort – the effort of asking, creating safe avenues for response and internalizing what you hear in order to become a more responsive and empathic leader to your team.
Pamela Fuller is FranklinCovey’s thought leader on inclusion and bias and one of the firm’s top global sales leaders. She is a co-author of The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias: How to Reframe Bias, Cultivate Connection and Build High-Performing Teams and a sought-after speaker, author, and consultant on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Be sure to catch Pamela’s break out sessions “The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias” at NYC SHRM’s Annual Conference, Navigating Next.