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Why do Managers Fear Feedback?


Yesterday, I gave the top 3 reasons why employees are afraid of feedback. Today, it's the manager's turn. Let's be clear, many managers do fear giving feedback and come up with any reason to avoid it. Which is why I get so upset when I see articles being promoted that say feedback doesn't work or that employees don't like feedback. That is 100% wrong!

Feedback doesn't work when it is done wrong. Employees don't like feedback when it is done wrong. When done right, feedback is probably the greatest tool that a manager has. The ROI from it is incredible!

So here is why managers fear it (some of this may sound familiar from yesterday).

  1. Manager's don't want their team to dislike them or argue with them. This again comes from the belief that feedback is always negative. As managers, we fear that employees will not like us or stop performing well if we criticize them. This mindset starts to create an adversarial relationship and is self-reinforcing. The problem is: performance doesn't improve!

  2. Managers think feedback takes too long and is too hard to give. Nothing could be further from the truth. It only becomes time consuming and difficult when you let bad habits fester until you have to address them in a big way. Feedback, done right, takes less than 20 seconds. Which means in 10 minutes spread throughout a day, a manager could give 30 pieces of feedback (of which at least 24 should be positive).

  3. Managers don't know how to accept feedback, which means they transfer their negative feelings about it to the employee. The best way to accept feedback is to say "thank you" and then reflect on the feedback given. No one has to actually change behavior based on feedback, but at least he should consider it and have a good reason why he decided against it.

I have lots of managers say to me "I don't give feedback because of X". To be honest, not one of those reasons has ever been a good one. You cannot be a great manager - and probably can't even be a good one - unless you learn to give and accept feedback.

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