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Too Many Leaders Shrink from Straight Talk with Employees

At Interact Studio, we’ve watched people from every walk of life light up when they receive real-time feedback and coaching. They take notes with enthusiasm. They double check for our meaning. They are hungry for all of it.

After two days with us at Interact Studio, many clients tell us they’ve received more feedback than they ever have in the workplace. They tell us they often operate in a bubble, not really knowing if they’re doing well or falling behind.

This made us curious. Just how much of a problem is this, really?

In January of 2016 we joined with the Harris Poll to conduct an online survey 1,120 employed U.S. workers, 616 of whom manage employees in the workplace.

What the Survey Revealed

A stunning majority (69%) of managers say there is something about their role as a leader that makes them uncomfortable communicating with their employees.

Over a third (37%) of America’s business leaders report that they are uncomfortable having to give direct feedback/criticism about their employee’s performance that they might respond badly to.

Tough Feedback Hurts on Both Sides

Even at the leadership level, the fear of hurting people’s feelings and facing drama and retribution can cause us to behave in a way that drums up more tension.

Leaders who are nervous about offering tough feedback tense up and over-dramatize the conversation. They set themselves up for a fearful response with demands like, “Come in and shut the door. I need to talk to you.” They create an environment of conflict and the employee responds defensively.

Support for Leaders

We offer guidelines for giving tough feedback in Interact Report Volume 3, which begin with the mindset of being direct but kind. We invite you to download the report and send us your questions and comments. For more information on the leadership development programs at Interact, reach out today.

At Interact Studio, we develop leaders and their teams by helping them experience real-time coaching from the faculty and the group. We give them a powerful formula to use in the work place and several opportunities to practice. We help them reframe feedback as a way of giving someone their aspirations of seeing them “play big” versus playing small.

Leadership requires true grit for the greater good. If we get it right, feedback can create collaboration, a culture of connection and sustainable change.

We offer guidelines in Interact Report Volume 3.