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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #75: If You Don’t Like Feedback, You’ll Like a Disengaged Team Even Less

February 25, 2020
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #75: If You Don’t Like Feedback, You’ll Like a Disengaged Team Even Less

In order to fully engage your employees, you must invest in their development by helping them through feedback. In Episode #75 of our Executive Leadership Podcast, we discuss the essential topic of feedback, including three tips for encouraging a feedback culture within your organization. 

To find out more about how feedback can help you grow as a leader, sign up for our upcoming 5 Levels of Leadership public workshops.

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Read Transcript Below:

Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to drive remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator, and coach, and I’m Chris Goede, Vice President with the John Maxwell Company. Welcome, and thank you for joining.

Just as a quick reminder, as we get started, if you’d love to learn more about our 5 Levels of Leadership public workshops, maybe even some of our private offerings and have Perry or myself or one of our executive facilitators come on-site, please visit, and you can fill out a form. You can leave comments there. You can even leave questions for us, Perry and I would love to answer those during one of our podcasts or maybe even respond directly to you.

Well, you guys know this is our favorite part, and we get a lot of comments about these titles, and I give Perry a hard time, and I absolutely love this title. When I saw it, it reminded me of another discussion, another point we’ve had around leadership, but it fits perfectly. And I think this topic is so relevant to us as leaders and we need to talk about it. So we’re going to spend probably a couple of our episodes talking about it.  

So today’s topic is titled, “If you don’t like feedback, you’ll like a disengaged team even less.” And I agree. I totally agree with you. The last thing I want is a disengaged team. So Perry talks to me a little about where this came from and what your thoughts are for today. 

Yeah, so, I speak at conferences often, and I do a keynote or something, but I go into the lunch area, and there are usually round tables, people sitting there, and they don’t know what to talk about. So I’ll generally ask, it’s a little bit, I’m selfish, but I want to know what would help you be more successful. I’m looking for topics and ideas that I can add to my speaking and writing repertoire. And I cannot get over the number of times an individual has told me if I could just get more feedback, I have no idea how I’m doing at work, so I just keep doing, but nobody will tell me how I’m doing. I thought that it made me sad, and I thought, you know what, a lot of us as leaders struggle with at the time to give feedback, how to give feedback. What not to do when you get feedback. And I thought feedback is such a rich gift to people, and they’re begging for it, but we don’t do it. 

I think it’s an interesting statement when you say that because I think we all desire to receive it, but we don’t desire to give it. Right. I mean, that’s the hard part about a leader is that we get uncomfortable at times. So there are reasons that we don’t give it. But feedback, I definitely think this topic is so essential for us to discuss. And I know there’s this quote in Brene Brown. One of the things I heard her say or read somewhere was mastery requires feedback. Yes, I don’t care what we’re trying to master, and whether we’re trying to develop greatness or proficiency, it always requires feedback. And that got me thinking. So we’re recording this. You know, a couple of days after the passing of Kobe Bryant and all the families in that helicopter and I was on the road this week, and I was watching TNT, it was on in my hotel room. And, I love watching Ernie and what they do well, you know, with Charles Barkley and Shaq and all of them. And they had a special on a Tuesday night, and they had a couple of guys in the NBA there. They were just kind of talking about Kobe and his career. And I thought this was very interesting. They went to Dwayne Wade, and we talk about feedback. I thought about this when you kind of pose that question to me, Dwayne is sitting there, and he said, you know what? I remember most, he said, now I’m younger at the time then Kobe and he calls me up. He’s in the finals, I think. I think the Lakers were playing the Celtics or somebody, and he calls me up, and he says, Hey, I know that you are the best when it comes to offensively orchestrating the pick and roll. He’s like, I want you to watch my film. I want you to tell me what am I doing wrong? How do I need to attack in the finals? And Dwayne’s like you’re asking me? And Dwayne looks at Kobe, and I thought, man, if this guy right here at the highest level of basketball can reach out to his peers, to his teammates, to those that he, in his industry, and ask for feedback. Every single one of us should be okay, giving it, but then also receiving. It made me think about that. I just wanted to share that. 

It is a two-way street. We often forget that I find that we talk about employee engagement, and if I want to fully engage my team, I’m the one way to do that is to be fully engaged in their development and helping them through feedback. And I was wondering what you think we talk about it. You’d almost think at the start here in the first few minutes, this was obvious, duh. What do you think are the biggest reasons why leaders don’t actively, proactively, intentionally engage in feedback? 

I think the first thing that comes to my mind, and there’s probably, there are a couple of reasons. I think the first one that comes to mind is that leaders myself, I’m guilty of this as well. We tend to use time as an excuse. We don’t have time. We have to do this, and we have to do that. And all of a sudden, we have meetings in our schedules because I think as you prepare to give feedback, you need to prepare to do so. So it’s not just a meeting of having the feedback. It’s sitting down and taking time, thinking through the process of how you want to give feedback. So my first reaction to you and one of the reasons is just time on our schedule. 

Yeah, for sure. Well, I think that is definitely the number one reason I hear is that I just, I think it has to be a little formal thing, and I’ve got to set aside time and get you in my office and get out a whiteboard, and you know, have a spreadsheet. We’ll talk about how to do that. Yeah. To me, on the time thing comes down to something we’ve talked about here, is it, how do you view it as is, are you spending the time, or is it an investment? And I think if it’s an investment, I’m looking for a return. Yeah. That’s why I want to do it. The second reason I hear is that my life’s already filled with enough conflict. Why would I want to add to doing that? And I wonder if you do find, if I’ve got to give feedback, I asked people how do you get feedback? Yes. I love people telling people how they’re doing well. Well, what about the other side of the side? I don’t do that so much. 

To be a Successful Leader, You Need Feedback on Your Leadership.

We’re excited to announce our new and improved Organizational Effectiveness Survey (OES). The OES gathers feedback from employees to give leaders and management the knowledge and action plans needed to develop a more effective and productive work environment. Our new version measures 4 areas of your business: Leadership, People, Strategy, and Performance. 

Yeah, I think that it’s funny you bring that up, that’s probably actually the number one reason we may have it backward, right? That may be the number one reason where people don’t necessarily want to engage in that conversation from what I would say the corrective side of the feedback. So, I think that’s good. Both of those are probably good. You’re probably listening to this saying I would agree with both of those. One of the things I love about this lesson is you’ve kind of developed, maybe three tips for us. How do we do this? How do we go about it? How do we simplify it and kind of apply it because I think feedback’s we mentioned is essential. And so here’s a couple of things we’re going to go through today. I’m going to let you kind of start us off. You develop these three, talk to us a little bit about number one, and then we’ll dive in. 

Now, this was developed over years of not doing it well, I think. What is holding me back in there? So the number one tip was to develop a feedback mindset. And what I mean by that is that it’s so easy. I find it is as I’m the boss, or if I have that authority, that role is not leaning on my influence, but I lean on my role as the boss, then I tend to want to correct someone or fix someone. Then the conflict just kind of escalates from that. If my mindset is one of showing that I care and building trust with the person, that it’s really a way of showing I care about you as I want to develop you. It’s that mindset change of I have a mindset of feedback that’s positive even though it may contain some difficult constructive things. I’m doing it in a way and with a heart that helps you and to help make you better and help make us better. 

 Yeah, I think, and if you go about it the right way and go about it like you just mentioned, there’s no doubt about it that you continue to build trust with that team member, and then you drive employee team members in great engagement. You drive the number up. You know, there’s a stat out there that talks about team members that are engaged. They say 82% of those that are engaged, and the reason is their direct supervisor. And that’s where you get your feedback from. And so you need to make sure that you can continue to do that.

The other thing I want to hit on, you just mentioned that made me think about something is make sure you have the right motive behind why you’re doing this, right. Make sure that if you want it to be effective, not only for the individual but for the organization, as well, and it has to be a win. Make sure you have the right motive behind doing that. It’s funny because I was with a group yesterday and I was talking, we were just talking about influence and leadership, and we were talking about, you know how I had an individual that was like, okay, how do I get them to do this and how do I get them to help me with that and how do I, and I was like, Hey, just make sure you understand that this is a win-win. And there’s a fine line between influence and manipulation. And we’ve talked about that. And I think it’s the same thing with feedback. Make sure that you have, to your point, the care you want to help them and have that bright motive on why you’re doing it behind it. 

And I think I’ve told the story here before by the leader that I worked for, that I thought he was always correcting me always nothing was good enough. But until I figured out, almost quit, man, I figured out he was the only leader I’d ever had that cared enough about my personal development and my growth to tell me the hard things and then I just fell in love. I thought, no, please tell me more. I realized his motive to your point was not to manipulate me with the motivators, and he was really driving me further ahead than I even, I thought I could go.

That’s good. Well, let me share a number two for you. Develop a culture of feedback. So by providing feedback on a regular basis, immediately or within a very short time window after witnessing someone’s performance, you send a message of, Hey, this is how we do things here, right? This is real-time. This is an incredible skill set for you to have as a leader to increase your Level 3 influence, right? From a production. But the other thing I love about it is it almost begins the relationship of Level 4 influence by giving feedback and having this two-way conversation and making it part of our culture. You’re beginning that coaching relationship. And one of the things that I’ve heard John mention before is don’t allow as leaders, don’t allow time or other circumstances to make decisions for you or to have conversations for you. Because if you do that, you’re going to lose momentum. And one of the things that we talk about at Level 3 quite a bit on the 5 Levels of Leadership is producing and creating momentum and the more momentum you have as a team. And so if we’re going to go about this and you create a culture of feedback, we’ve got to do it often. We’ve got to do it in real-time. And I want to make sure that you do it in a way back to point number one that you show that you care to continue to increase momentum.

Culture, really how we do things around here. If you think about the culture of feedback, that sounds a little odd, but it really is, I think I mentioned a minute ago, a two-way street. And so I think the way you start this culture of feedback is you as the leader, it includes you. And so who’s giving you feedback? Right. And so I know for me, it took a while for me to begin to ask others, my team or my peers, the other managers or executives on my team for feedback. What’s your thought on that? A leader asking a sideways or down for feedback on their performance? 

Well, I think self-awareness is a big-time issue. Not only in our team members but as leaders. And I think the more we get comfortable with leading and the longer that we’ve led, we may be more unaware than we think we are. And we don’t tend to kind of look through the lens of what I like to ask the question at times. And I challenge people to ask their team: what does it look like on the other side of my leadership? You know, what does it look like to be led by me? And I’ll joke around and say, Hey, I’ll ask that question and then run out of the room. Because I really don’t, you know, want to know, but you need to know, you need to understand what that looks like. And so I do think it kind of stems from kind of that self-awareness issue. I was listening to a lesson that John did actually just this morning, and he said something that kind of tied right into what we’re talking about today where he said, let your team know that you’re okay with not knowing how to do things so that you don’t do things well or that you’re okay with receiving feedback so that when you do know, they will respect and trust you even greater. So if they see you accepting feedback, being okay with the things that you don’t know what you need you to improve on those things that you do know and you know for certain they’re going to buy in a lot quicker. And I thought that was really good because by opening that feedback loop as a leader, you’re becoming authentic with them and allowing them to do that. And I think you just gave me an idea for another topic. I get to start taking credit for these titles. Well, are you really okay with feedback, right? Because I just turned in something the other day, you sent it out to get it reviewed. I said, I really want the feedback. I really want to know, tell me the truth. Right? And then within an hour, the first one came in. I go, what do you mean my first, your first reaction is what are you talking about? And then I’m like, no, I asked for this. I want this. I need this. Right. Are you really okay with feedback, right? Or are you just saying it because there’s the noble thing to say, and then when it comes in, you get your feelings all hurt? It goes back to, do you have a mindset of feedback mindset. I need you to tell me what I’m doing. I’m sorry. I got off the side there. 

Number three. And the final tip that I’ve found really valuable for me personally was, can you make feedback a conversation? And what I find is sometimes we can be a little bit know, too much, a one-way conversation. So I’ve found that for me, I like to tell them I am close to what I saw, the performance if a sales call or a piano recital for my children, whatever. I thought you did really well. One thing I thought could have used some improvement. What do you think? And so I do this, what do you think? And then I also learned something recently. Tell me more. So what do you think? And tell me more. Open the door to a conversation about feedback that shows I’m really doing this to help you, and I really want you to tell me to help me. Tell me more is one way to do that.  

I love that, right? You’re opening the door, and you’re creating that kind of dialogue between you and your team member. And when you do that, it allows kind of both people to learn, right? Yesterday and so we just talked a minute ago about this Level 4 mindset. This is the early beginning of the stages of getting to coach and mentor through the feedback. When I was talking to the organization yesterday, and I was talking to leaders, and I just said, Hey, hang on now because when you have a conversation with them, you might learn something from your team members. Too many times, again, I think the more comfortable we get with leading, the longer we’ve been in certain positions, we get a little complacent. We think we have all the answers, and we’re never open to receiving that dialogue and that feedback. 

So, well, listen, I appreciate you bringing this up because I think this is something that, as leaders, we go about our daily life. It needs to become part of what we do. We’ve talked a lot about common language inside our culture and inside our leadership. And I would challenge everybody that’s listening to really make this part of what your common language is as a leader. Make it comfortable for your team and figure out a way to do it. So a couple of things as we close and we wrap up, and I’ll throw it back to you. When we think about how we apply this, what does it look like? So, you gave us three simple tools and tips I think we can kind of work off of. But here’s what I want to close with. Leaders, we’ve got to go first, right? And so what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to begin asking for feedback first and have those conversations so that when you then get ready to have that conversation with your team members and give them feedback, you’ve already built that. You’ve already built that loop, and it’s part of your common language, as I mentioned before. And you went first. You wanted that feedback. The other thing is, man, challenge yourself to a 24-hour rule. Like if you see something, try to address it within 24 hours, okay? Try to have that feedback; make it part of your conversation. And then before you know it, you’re going to find yourself doing it quicker than 24 hours. It’s going to be real-time, and I think that’ll help the effectiveness of your team. 

My final closing thought about it is just make sure you’re checking your motive every time you’re doing it because we’re in the people business. It doesn’t matter what your industry is. We’re in the people business, and we’ve got to make sure that our motives are pure behind why we’re increasing our influence and why we’re giving feedback to our team members. Right? 

If your motive is to win or be right, you just lost. That’s right. That’s all right. Thank you, Chris. Great input is always as a reminder, if you’d like to learn more about the 5 Levels of Leadership or maybe bring a 5 Levels workshop at your location, you can go to, and you can leave a comment for us there. We also have a Learner Guide for you there about this podcast where some of these tips that are there, as always, we’re grateful for you joining us. This is the John Maxwell Company Executive Leadership Podcast.

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