How to accept upward feedback well

You’ve just started using Impraise and it’s time to start receiving feedback from your employees. You understand the benefits of implementing a feedback culture and why you as a manager need to begin leading by example. Even so, it can still be challenging to become comfortable receiving constructive feedback from your reports. Initially, you may have a tendency to reject feedback or become emotional. Keep in mind that this is a natural reaction triggered by our brain’s ‘fight or flight’ response to danger. However, it is possible to rewire your mindset towards feedback.


Start by opening yourself up to what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset”. Rather than seeing feedback as a personal attack, look at it as a valuable opportunity to reassess and hone your skills. As a leader it’s especially important to be aware of how others perceive and are affected by your actions and decisions. The best way to get comfortable with a new habit is to create a checklist of actions. When you receive constructive feedback:


1. Ask questions


Asking the right questions shows that you’re listening and at the same time helps you glean further information. If your employees say that sometimes you’re too critical when things go wrong, ask them if they could elaborate further with an example.


2. Thank them


Don’t forget to thank them for sharing their feedback with you. It’s particularly important to do this when you’re first introducing a feedback culture and employees are still getting used to giving you feedback.


3. Analyze your feedback objectively


How objective is it? Is it based on facts and observations, or opinions? Rather than considering whether the feedback is justified, consider the impact it has. Would making a change impact your relationship with your team or an individual? Compare it with feedback you’ve received in the past. Do you see any patterns?


4. Integrate it into your development plan

Consider what skills you need to improve in this area. If you were told employees don’t find you approachable, make a commitment to work on your communication skills. Take action by setting up more regular 1-on-1s with your reports so you can practice these skills and demonstrate your willingness to take their feedback on board. After you’ve begun implementing your plan continue to ask for feedback on these skills.

This article is part of a management guide about how to become a better leader with feedback. 

Next Guides:


Manager’s Handbook: How will giving more feedback help my team?


Receiving Feedback