How Great Leaders Give Great Feedback

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By Jas Singh

Working in the recruitment industry, one of the most difficult things to do is giving feedback.

Most hiring managers still use outdated hiring processes – the classic Q&A type interviews with maybe a “personality test” and presentation thrown in. Everything is still very loose, and most decisions are still made on opinions and gut instinct.

Which makes it difficult to give useful and accurate feedback.

You see, in ten years as a hiring specialist I can say with pretty high confidence that most people don’t mind if things don’t work out. As long as there are clear and valid reasons for why.

The better the feedback, the better the opportunity to address the challenges, learn and grow.

“Just didn’t feel right” or “he was a nice guy but lacked the personality” (last time I checked everyone had one), or “just doesn’t seem to impress me” doesn’t really help much.

Or even worse. The bottom-of-the-barrel in terms of giving feedback.

No feedback at all.

Great leaders understand that to succeed in all areas of life requires co-operation. And co-operation requires a constant flow of honest and useful feedback.

Here are some ways how great leaders give great feedback.

They cut to the chase

As social creatures, we love to talk.

It connects us with others and feels good. And so, often we go round in circles, covering every possible perspective and angle. Which is totally fine if you’re down the pub or speaking to your gran. But not necessarily the best approach if you’re looking to strongly emphasize specific points.

The best leaders I know on average take an incredibly short period of time when it comes to giving constructive feedback. They focus on the most important points and their advice comes across more powerfully. It’s easier for their followers to understand and is more clear.

We’ve all been in management meetings where our boss has gone on-and-on-and-on without getting to the point. Sometimes even confusing us. When all he or she had to do was say one or two things.

Feedback is only useful if it is straight to the point.

Great leaders don’t confuse others.

They don’t worry about coming across as the bad guy/girl

Most people want others to do well. And in leadership, this is a leader’s main purpose – to serve others to succeed.

Yet often, one of the most common reasons for why feedback is often withheld – even non-existent in certain organisations – is due to one simple reason.

Not wanting to upset the other person.

You see as social creatures we are programmed to fit in. Often the fear of criticism or mockery can be the sole reason why most of us fail to do things that we really want to do. It’s almost as if we’d rather not run the risk of upsetting others even if it meant them (and possibly also us) becoming exponentially more successful.

How wrong that assumption is. The truth is that most people actually admire those people who honesty give constructive feedback. Sure it might sting at first, and you have to be tactful in your approach, but we all respect and admire anyone who helps us learn and improve.

Great leaders realize that simply giving great feedback can separate you from the crowd and build strong relationships that last. Which is far more important than the occasional person taking the advice the wrong way.

Great leaders are truthful if they know it can help others.

They suggest an action plan

Over the past six years I have been working with the Global Head of Sales for a very well known software company. His team is over 200 sales people worldwide and he proactively gets involved with every hire his team makes.

Just like with any hiring managers, sometimes candidates don’t pass the interview process just because they are lacking something – experience in a certain country, not working on certain types of sales processes etc.

But what is different with this leader is how he gives and manages feedback. If he sees that the candidate has simply just missed out due to something that can be worked on, he always suggests what they could do to build on their experience. To possibly land a role with the company further down the line.

It’s not uncommon for him to even ask candidates to stay in touch and check in after 12 months is they are still interested in working there. He’s hired several of them.

Great leaders understand feedback is most powerful if backed up with an actionable plan.

Conclusion

Whether it is positive, negative or neither – an essential part of leadership is giving the right feedback.

It’s an unique opportunity to empower others and help them grow.

Hiring managers can gain much from those people who know how to both give and receive feedback in the right way.

Because giving feedback is a two-way street – the only way any leader can give good feedback is to be good at receiving feedback.

How do you give feedback?

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