Are you allergic to Feedback?

Feedback written on a chalkboard

Are you allergic to Feedback?

Any leader who doesn’t seek employees’ input is flying blind. Employees are potential intelligence gatherers, canaries in the mineshaft, allies and advisors to help you accomplish your mission. They can only do this if you have created pathways for their feedback and ideas. Those pathways must be open and safe and extend throughout your chain of command. One blocked pathway and you are beginning to lose your leadership sight and the heartbeat of the organization slows to a dangerous level.

The days of barking orders from the throne and having your loyal minions flit about intoning “yes, sire, whatever you say” are gone in most organizations.  For those who persist, no good thing comes of it. To think otherwise is self-deception and evidence you are deep, deep inside an impermeable bubble.

The enlightened leader begs for feedback. Imagine the available inputs from all your employee, advisors, colleagues and peers could be displayed on a big flat screen TV. But, imagine you decide you don’t need to hear from employees, especially the little people. If a ship captain took this approach, it is easy to see how he might run aground on a reef that was known to the crew. You need every pixel on that screen.

Demotivation rules when a leader doesn’t ask for input and makes decisions on a whim, or as we have seen at very high levels, based on their gut. It gives the workforce a sense of powerlessness when no counsel was sought and they knew there was other information that could have helped them make a better, informed decision. Employees get a “why bother” attitude which drains vitality out of the organization. That is energy you can’t afford to lose in today’s competitive world.

Employees know more than you do about what is going on. You can’t be everywhere at once no matter how brilliant you are. Having a diverse set of vantage points is your friend, not a threat. Remember that big flat screen TV: use all the pixels or you’re not seeing the real picture.

Are you taking advantage of all the inputs available to you?