The Power of Feedback

Have you ever arrived home from a party and looked in the mirror to discover you were missing a button or had something stuck in your teeth? 

Did anyone notice?  Why didn’t anyone tell me? 

We all know it’s not easy to tell someone when you notice something awry.  On the other hand, when I am doing something well, I love to hear affirmation from others.  

As a leader, these affirmations and redirections—what’s more commonly known as feedback— can be a powerful tool in developing those who serve on your team while also developing your own leadership skills.  There are many positive outcomes that come from giving and receiving feedback.  The feeling of being heard and valued can be a powerful, positive outcome when a person’s feedback is solicited.  On the flip side, if a team member gives you feedback, what a gift!  Team member feedback indicates ownership and passion for their team, their church, and you as their leader. 

However, sometimes as leaders we hesitate to ask for an honest evaluation from team members (or guests) about our performance or about the team’s performance.  The irony is that taking time to ask for honest evaluations can be the most proactive and effective means to building your team and improving the overall care your team delivers on an ongoing basis.  

Remeber, feedback can be either positive or constructive.  The risk of not knowing which one you will receive is often what holds us back from soliciting it. In fact, there are many potential pain points in creating feedback loops: the time it takes to really listen to a team member’s honest feedback, not wanting to face the tension of a tough conversation, or navigating the tension of listening versus fixing, to name a few.   

However, don’t let fear or uncertainty stop you from this valuable tool of leadership.  As with anything, practice makes perfect.  Allow yourself time to develop this skill by trying it out.  Start with some of your most committed and solid team members.  Keep it positive and encouraging.  

Here are some steps you can keep in mind as you look for opportunities to solicit and give feedback:

Giving feedback:

 • Ensure your comments are objective and based on observations, using ‘I’ rather than generalized statements.

 • Make your comments as specific as possible by providing examples.

 • Focus on observed behavior and not your perception of an individual’s personality or values. 

• Ensure your comments are respectful and encouraging . Think your tone and words. 

• Check that you have been correctly understood and be prepared to provide clarity as needed 

• Present your feedback as observations, not as facts. 

• Keep your feedback confidential.

Receiving feedback:

 • It is important to listen and not get defensive.

 • Try to paraphrase what you have heard in order to ensure understanding.

 • Ask for clarification or examples if you’re not sure what is meant.

 • Thank the person giving you feedback.