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Leaders, care teams, and healthcare organizations that can give and receive feedback possess enormous capacity to learn and improve quickly and continuously. But it’s clear that giving and receiving feedback can make even the most confident of us bristle in defense if we’re not used to how beneficial feedback is when it’s done the right way.

This article is designed to help us all brush upon the key leadership skill of receiving feedback. Leaders and teams alike can create a feedback-based culture that drives trust, learning, and performance.

 

Awkward, But Important 

Why does giving and receiving feedback feel so awkward at times? 

Perhaps because we tend to see feedback as correction, so the idea of giving or getting it can be threatening. The word feedback has often meant judgment. Feedback has also been used as a synonym for inadequacy. 

To position feedback as a leadership tool and a team skill, we have to shift the perception of interpersonal feedback from judgment and deficit to learning and growth.

Recognize that an openness to receive feedback lends credibility to your support of a feedback-based performance environment. Freely receiving feedback means you are strengthening the free flow of communication and that is essential in collaborative environments. 

Every time you invite and receive feedback, especially publicly, you strengthen the idea that feedback is healthy and helpful.

 

Four Feedback Guidelines

To help accelerate the impact of feedback in your care team environment, here are four best practices you can apply in your colleague interactions.

1) Invite with a growth mindset.

Begin inviting feedback and position it as learning. Frame the idea of giving receiving feedback around your team’s common ground and emphasize a shared commitment to improving how we work together, not who is right or wrong. A great way to set this frame is to do it in small group settings. We’re asking a team how we did, how we might improve, and how we know we’re getting better helps people begin to understand and practice feedback together and publicly in a way that is less intimidating. 

If you’ve asked for feedback and get none or get superficial responses, you may have to invite often. Keep seeking and inviting feedback on the frame of your commitment to common ground and it will come.

2) Listen and reflect back.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but we often skip this step and then we respond with our own version of what we were trying to do or why we did it. 

An open posture, a nod of your head, and a rephrasing of what you heard will help the sender feel heard. You can reflect back with something like, “What I hear you saying is that I could help create more high-trust team environment. And am I hearing that right?

3) Thank people for their feedback.

Thank the feedback sender for giving you feedback and mean it. A world without feedback is a world without orientation. So this means feedback is a gift. Thanking the person who gives you feedback further lowers the barrier to feedback. 

As an everyday occurrence, say thank you especially if they’ve told you something that might have been difficult for them to say. Further, being in a posture of gratitude will help you process the feedback and appreciate the giver who, by the way, is taking substantial risk in telling you something important about him or herself in the process.

4) Frame forward back to common ground.

Frame forward how this feedback will help you participate in future work and learning. Emphasize how the message you received will help you move toward your goal, a goal that resonates with a common ground to the team. 

This reframing serves as sort of a feed forward invitation for both you and the sender. I might say, for example, “This conversation helps me see how we’re going to be able to improve together. Your feedback will help me keep patients top of mind.” Gratitude, plus common ground goes a million miles.

Key Takeaways

So as you invite, listen, reflect, then frame forward, bringing everything back to common ground, remember why the feedback exchange is essential in effective collaboration.

1) Practice framing feedback for yourself and others as a fundamental element of high-performing teams.

2) Learn to understand feedback is essential for shaping the self-awareness of both the giver and the receiver.

 

In what ways could better feedback loops help improve your care culture? To find out how learning and development like this can be incorporated into your organization, visit Getting Started.