Lead First to Create a Culture of “Constructive Feedback” in Your Small Business Environment

What is your relationship with “constructive feedback?”

Many small business leaders tell me they “wish their employees were more open to constructive feedback, they get so defensive.”

Really, this is a surprise?

I ask them, “well, how open are you to constructive feedback?”

They stammer out an answer that is unintelligible most times.

My coaching for them is that the best way to have your people open to constructive feedback is to be open to it yourself as an organization or team leader.

And, not just be open to it, but proactively solicit it.

Few leaders do this.

I wrote about this a while back about former New York City Mayor, the late Ed Koch, who would go around the City asking people, “how am I doing?”

If you want the people you lead to be more open to constructive feedback, you need to lead the way.

A great way to do this is to ask this very simple question –

“How can I be a better _________________________?*

You fill in the blank with whatever you want feedback on depending on whom you are soliciting it from, such as:

  • From your direct report: “manager or leader for you?”
  • From your client: “at providing you service?
  • From your co-worker: “a teammate/colleague?”
  • From your significant other: “partner/spouse?”
  • From your children: “parent?”

You get the idea.

When they respond, simply say, “Thank you.”

Then, assess the feedback for validity and appropriateness and begin acting on it.

People will notice, especially the person who offered it to you.

After 30-days check in with them to see if they’ve noticed and ask how it has helped.

By leading first you will be setting the tone for constructive feedback and others will be less defensive when it is offered to them.

Leave a comment below and next time you will read about a powerful strategy championship caliber communicators use in rebuttal to make their point without disrespecting the other person.

’til next time, Communicate with Power,

skip-weisman-professional speaker-small business championship coach




*Thanks to Marshal Goldsmith & his book What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *