(first published in August, 2016)
My friend Roy Osing was describing great leaders in a Globe and Mail article a few years ago. He wrote, “Great leaders place a priority on meeting with customers regularly. There is no substitute for getting feedback on performance directly from a customer. They make it a priority and schedule it weekly on their calendar.”
For the purposes of this blog, we will change the word ‘customers’ to ‘any major stakeholders in the work you’re doing’. Whether you are a leader, a general manager or a project manager, feedback is critical to our success.
We need to take the time, suggests Osing, to pick up the phone or get out of our office to test the water. We need to ask simple questions like “How are we doing?” and “What could we be doing better”.
Most importantly, this needs to be a science. We can’t just wing it, thinking every once in awhile, that we should call a client or stakeholder. As Osing says, “… make it a priority and schedule it weekly on (your) calendar.”
This is the mark of a good leader and a good manager.
And good people model good people, so as you make the effort to stay in touch, those around you will as well. This is the kind of behavior we want to encourage.
I am observing, with interest, my daughter’s first career with a major corporation in Canada. The feedback loop that they have created for her is outstanding. But I also hear that it isn’t just for the newly arrived resources. She observes the feedback that her boss, and even her bosses boss, receive during the course of the year. From top to bottom, they are all encouraged to reach out and ask for feedback – from customers, managers and staff.
The risks? You need to be prepared for the bad news or for the real story. If you can’t take it, don’t ask. But you will be missing the great benefits that this kind of feedback can provide.
Look around the office today and ask yourself if you are spending enough time with your customers, your managers and your staff in order to try to be better at what you’re doing today and what you can be doing tomorrow.