Why Isn’t Feedback Happening?
Updated: Nov 6, 2020
The truth about most human beings–managers included–is that they are reluctant and even fearful about giving honest, constructive feedback.
The reasons managers don’t give people helpful feedback differ, according to their beliefs about what will happen if they do give feedback. Some of these beliefs include:
My employee will show emotion and I can’t handle that. They may even cry or have an outburst.
I’ll hurt this person’s feelings. And since I’m their friend I want them to like me.
If I give the feedback, I’ll have to waste a lot of my time coaching them. And they should already know how to do the job right.
All I know is that they’re missing the boat somewhere. If I give them feedback, I’ll have to figure out all the details, and that’s not my comfort zone.
Any combination of these beliefs–plus company traditions about how feedback has been handled—or mishandled–puts the damper on free-flowing feedback. Not uncommonly, managers say:
I’ve never received feedback since joining the company–with the exception of my annual review—so why should I provide it to my team?
Most of our VPs and directors never give feedback and no one holds them accountable. That’s why my manager doesn’t notice if I don’t provide feedback. So I’d be taking unnecessary risks by stirring up the pot.