mind your business: Why Feedback is Your Key to Winning
There are five simple words that can spell doom for a leader: "If I had only known!" These are the words you utter right after a major client cancels a contract, a customer stops ordering or an error occurs that will cost you thousands out of your own pocket. That's why the best leaders and the most competent managers thrive on employee feedback.
So, why don't more of us go out of our way to encourage quick and candid feedback? Our first response to this question is typically focused on our team. We aren't convinced that they really get the big picture, we don't want them to get distracted from their current work, or we simply don't value their opinion. The best trusted advisors will tell you that it's not the leader's associates, but rather, the leader's perspective that is the problem.
If leaders aren't careful, they can begin to believe that they alone know what's best. No one else could possibly have all the necessary information for a decision like they do, and no one has the company's or the customer's best interest at heart like they do. This is the kind of thinking that leads to mediocrity at best, and outright failure at worst.
Think about the examples where feedback wasn't encouraged and the results were troublesome: the Toyota accelerator problem or the rollout of the national health care website, for instance. In each situation someone possessed important information, but was not encouraged to share it.
Among the most successful working professionals there is one constant truth: Trust between leaders and their associates is built upon a transparency that reflects a freedom to speak and to be heard. A corporate culture of harm, where listening to employees isn't valued, impacts business every day across America.