A woman and a man sit in chairs facing each other, talking. The woman wears a yellow dress and black ankle boots. She has her legs crossed and is leaning slightly forward. The man is wearing a dark blue suit with a green-and-white-striped tie. He is holding an electronic tablet. Behind the chairs, two banks of windows meet to form the corner of a room. Outside the floor-to-ceiling windows is a garden filled with trees and shubbery.
Regular one-on-one meetings with employees can create opportunities to ask for feedback. — Getty Images/nazar_ab

Asking your employees for feedback isn’t just useful for your professional development. This process can help your business, too. Research from Gallup revealed that employees whose managers were not approachable were 65% more likely to be actively disengaged. Managers who provide the space for employees to voice their constructive feedback enjoy higher productivity, employee retention, and profitability.

However, the process of getting constructive feedback can sometimes be awkward for everyone involved—especially when there’s an uneven power dynamic. Try some of these tactics to make it easy for your employees to provide constructive feedback on your professional conduct.

Schedule regular 1:1s

Create plenty of opportunities for your employees to voice their opinions by scheduling regular one-on-one meetings with your team. Consistent, frequent feedback nets two benefits. First, hearing feedback in real-time is more valuable than waiting until an end-of-year review to learn what you could improve.

Second, regular feedback sessions allow everyone to become more comfortable voicing their thoughts. Casual weekly meetings take some of the weight out of these conversations. By giving employees lots of your time and availability and continually asking for their input, you can slowly make your team members more open to the idea of giving you constructive feedback.

Acknowledge the elephant in the room

Feedback can be awkward to both give and receive. Calling out the awkward dynamic upfront can put everyone at ease.

“Tell them that you know everyone makes mistakes, including you, and that they should call out those errors without feeling embarrassed or threatened. Explain that you need their feedback to learn,” wrote Harvard Business Review.

Recognize that it can be hard to both hear and give tough feedback. Ultimately, however, this should be a positive experience for everyone involved. No matter what your position, you’re still human — and feedback should be delivered with that in mind.

[Read more: Are You a Good Listener? Your Employees Sure Hope So]

Ask your employees to pinpoint specific instances so you can truly understand how to change.

Anne Maltese, Quantum Workplace

Offer a way to provide feedback anonymously

Not everyone will be willing to deliver constructive feedback face-to-face. To really delve into areas for improvement, consider offering an anonymous survey. There are plenty of apps and survey tools that allow you to collect anonymous responses on your performance from your employees.

Once you use these tools, it’s important to speak openly about what you’ve learned. According to Harvard Business Review, acknowledging the results of anonymous feedback signals that you’re open to hearing constructive criticism. It can make people more comfortable sharing their ideas with you in person going forward.

Ask for examples

Take control of the conversation by asking the right questions and requesting examples. David Taylor-Klaus of DTK Coaching recommends starting with these three questions:

  • What are you getting from me that you want more of?
  • What are you getting from me that you want less of?
  • What are you not getting from me that you want?

Then, follow up on these questions by asking for examples. “Beyond listening and thanking employees for their feedback, it's important to actively engage in feedback conversations with confidence and curiosity. Ask your employees to pinpoint specific instances so you can truly understand how to change,” wrote Quantum Workplace.

Act on your constructive feedback

When your employees take the time to evaluate your performance, don’t let their efforts go unheard. Act on their constructive feedback to the best of your ability. Even if you choose to go in a different direction than what was suggested, be transparent about why. Thank your employees for their valuable input, share the decisions you’ve made, and explain why.

“Employees will stop giving feedback if they think it is a futile process. Follow-through is far more important than the approach used to get the feedback in the first place,” said Amy Douglas of Spark Coaching, LLC.

[Read more: The Importance of Being a Transparent Leader—and How to Be One]

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