What would your team say about you as a manager? is one of my favorite questions to ask during an interview.
On one hand, it’s a great way to find out what people’s strengths and areas of improvement are, in a way that doesn’t feel like self-boasting. On the other hand, it gives me an important insight into the candidate’s awareness level. It also speaks of their growth mindset and how curious they are to know the impact of their people management skills. How much are they in contact with their team’s expectations? Have they ever considered asking for this feedback, even if it may not be part of their company’s performance assessment policy?
But when you are a first-time manager, asking for your team’s feedback can be a daunting process. I speak from personal experience. Even if it was ten years ago, I still remember the curiosity, fear and hurt I felt as I was reading through the lines of my first anonymous team feedback. And I also remember how valuable it was and how it motivated me to learn, grow and want to be a better manager.
Truth be told, there’s no right or wrong way when it comes to getting feedback from your team, as long as you ask for it with the genuine willingness to know what you are doing well and what you can do even better. And as long as you’re committed to act on it once received. Below is a five-step approach.
1. Let the team know that you will be sending them a feedback form. Mention why you are asking for it and whether or not it will be anonymous. I personally believe anonymity is the best way to ensure the answers are genuine.
2. Choose your questions and create the form. Focus on the areas you want feedback on, but try to keep it short. I use the SurveyMonkey free tool and design my survey around four topics:
Operational know-how: How would you rate my operational knowledge and ability to support you?
Strengths: What have been my strengths as your manager?
Areas of improvement: What should I improve on?
My ability to enable performance and develop others: How am I motivating you to want to develop and do a great job?
3. Send the feedback survey with a specific timeline for receiving the answers. Particularly if you’ve never done this before, putting a reminder in everyone’s calendar or a quick follow-up a few days before the deadline helps increase the response rate. People tend to procrastinate on things they’re doing for the first time or may be uncomfortable with.
4. Consolidate the answers and review with your team. At this point, you can choose to share with them an action plan with the key feedback points you want to focus on in the coming months. It’s also important to mention which areas you won’t be looking into and why. This step is sometimes the hardest to do, particularly if the feedback is constructive, yet it’s also the most meaningful of the whole process. It shows the team that you care about their feedback and that you are committed to act on it.
While it may seem hard to do or even time consuming in the beginning, getting feedback on how you perform as a manager is the fastest way to grow your leadership skills and increase trust, engagement and overall team performance. It shows that you listen to and care about your team’s opinion on how they want to be led. If you don’t know where to start, reach out and let’s book a coaching session on the topic!