Leadership Through Feedback

Monday, October 2 2023

A software studio filled with ten talented designers experienced firsthand leadership through feedback. They started out united by a common goal to create a mobile application that would serve the town’s community.

The project advanced rapidly until client changes started pouring in, deadlines crept closer, and team conflict became more visible. Ideas clashed and pressure mounted. The atmosphere within the team became tense because the goal was only clear to some people. This communication breakdown caused a missed deadline and a botched software release.

Take Time to Understand the Root Cause

Sarah, the project manager, decided to meet each team member one at a time. She investigated the root cause of tension then discovered that not everyone shared the same understanding of the end goal. The aggressive manners of some team members were more about their frustrations with the lack of proper tools, and others found the office environment ill-suited for collaborative work on this project. Armed with this fresh insight, Sarah resolved some of the problems and decided to continue these discussion sessions until the project’s completion.

Leadership Through Feedback

What Sarah did is a typical example of feedback because feedback is not just about performance appraisals or annual reviews. It’s the daily language of exceptional leadership that can mold a good team into an extraordinary one.

Strategies to Give Feedback

  1. Open with positive behaviour – Starting your feedback with the positive actions of your team members sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. It shows your team members that you value their efforts and are invested in their growth. This approach can boost their morale and increase buy-in to your suggestions for improvement.
  2. Specific and clear feedback – Avoid vague and general comments. Instead, provide specific examples that illustrate your point. This clarity helps the team understand exactly what they did well and what needs improvement, thereby enhancing their performance in the future.
  3. Focus on behaviour, not the person – Feedback should be about the actions, not the person. This strategy helps prevent any feeling of personal attack since it fosters a growth-oriented environment where the team feels supported and encouraged to improve.
  4. Be timely – Feedback is most effective when given promptly. If you wait too long, the team may have moved on. Any constructive advice may lose its relevance, so timely feedback helps keep the team on track. Plus it allows them to make immediate corrections, thereby boosting productivity and efficiency.
  5. Encourage two-way communication – Encourage your team to voice their thoughts and concerns as well to foster a sense of empowerment. Everyone feels heard and valued, which can enhance team dynamics and performance.

Effective feedback is key to extraordinary leadership and exceptional team performance. When delivered with positivity, specificity, a focus on behaviour, timeliness, and in a two-way communication format, feedback becomes a powerful tool that can drive your team towards success.

Contact TAC for ideas on how to improve feedback and collaboration among teams.