How to Get Useful Feedback from Liars

Nov 22, 2021

People lie to leaders. Usually it’s not malicious, but it’s always unhelpful. Team members who aspire to get along or get ahead…

  1. Soften criticism.

  2. Deflect tough answers.

  3. Over-state compliments.

Authority corrupts interactions. If your team treated you like a subordinate, you might receive useful feedback.

When you hear negative feedback, someone is usually disgruntled, leaving, or has an agenda.

If your team treated you like a subordinate, you might receive useful feedback

How to get developmental feedback from liars:

#1. Don’t ask your team to rate your performance on a 1:10 scale.

The number they assign says more about them than you. It’s more about liking and aspiration.

Anonymous evaluations are often axe-grinding opportunities.

#2. Ask for input.

“What three to five leadership qualities/behaviors seem most relevant when you think of the direction we’re going this year?”

Add your own items to the list and send a compilation to each team member.

#3. Two responses.

First response: “Put a star beside three items on the list where you think I excel.”

Second response: “If you were to choose three areas that would be useful for me to improve – with the next 12 months in mind – which three items come to mind? Please number them one through three. (‘One’ indicates most useful to improve.)”

Tip: The items they rank by number are likely worse than you think.

#4. Choose one item to develop.

#5. Grow with the team.

Tell your team your current focus of development. “I’m working to better energize the team over the next 30 days,” for example.

Ask, “What behaviors might help improve your ability to energize others?”

#6. Track progress.

Once a week ask, “What specifically are you seeing me do that energizes others?”

#7. Adopt a new focus at the end of 30 days.

An inclusive process will likely fuel their desire to improve as well.

How might you modify the above list?

By Dan Rockwell