Leaders, Are You Really Open to Hearing Feedback?

Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

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If you’re in an influential position, you’ve probably told employees something to the effect of “My door is always open.” It’s likely that you genuinely meant the declaration. You might feel that you are a pretty approachable leader, and that others feel comfortable coming to you with their issues and ideas.

o That may be true — but it may not be. Leaders often have an inflated idea of how easy it is for others to speak honestly to them.

o If you want people to give it to you straight, start by asking yourself several questions: Are you honestly interested in others’ opinions? Have you considered how risky it feels for others to speak up to you? What specifically do you need to do and say to enable others to speak up?

o Once you have a better sense of what’s standing in people’s way, whether it’s your behavior or not, you can take steps to remove those obstacles.

o You might reduce status differences by dressing more casually; introducing a “red card” at executive committee meetings to ensure someone has the ability to challenge you; or holding your extroversion in check so that others get a moment to speak.

Adapted from “The Problem with Saying ‘My Door Is Always Open,’” by Megan Reitz and John Higgins

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