Preparing leaders for receiving feedback
In our experience, we've found that preparing for giving and receiving feedback is similar across all people and roles in a school. The leadership group is unique however in that their role is instrumental in setting the direction for the entire school. The role of the People & Culture team is to guide leaders through the feedback with the intention of helping them find their own focus for the organization. Below we've included some guidance for leaders to review before going through their survey results.
For Leaders: Preparing to receive your results
Regardless of whether you're a small school of 100 people or a district of thousands, when you're part of the organization's leadership team it can be a daunting process to receive your survey results.
Kelvin enables organizations to capture open and honest feedback from its students, staff, and parents. As a leader in your organization, part of your role is to lead the organization through understanding your data, reflecting on what it's telling you, and support your organization to choose a focus area to act on. For this you need to be open and embrace the feedback given. Easier said than done. Receiving feedback from employees can often be a confronting moment for all leaders.
Leaders who are able to receive feedback gracefully, see it as constructive, consider it with empathy and are able to leverage the feedback to make meaningful change within their organization. So while we love to look at survey data as a great way to learn what people are thinking, here are some principles to keep in mind when reviewing your results to help you to calmly and openly interpret the data:
- Receiving feedback gracefully - Your reaction to feedback is important. Keep in mind that individuals who give constructive feedback are going out on a limb and typically don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Offering up what could be construed as ‘confronting news’ can be scary, especially if the recipient on the other end isn’t prepared to receive it. It also involves a significant degree of trust that the person receiving will act on it in the spirit with which it was given, without fear of retribution.
- Viewing feedback as constructive - Feedback typically represents either the reality of the situation, or an individual perception of reality. Whether the recipient agrees with the feedback or not is irrelevant. If you agree that something is broken, then you can start to work on fixing it. On the other hand, if you don’t agree with the feedback, then there's work to be done to change the perception of the person or people around them - because in the feedback giver’s experience, the situation is real enough to bring it forward. Either way, feedback represents information to work constructively with.
- Approaching feedback with empathy - To the organization, being clear that you as a leader will receive feedback gracefully and view it as constructive feedback is important. It serves to not only recognize the effort by employees to provide constructive feedback but also helps you frame whatever you're hearing by stepping into the shoes of the individual who is giving the feedback.
- Not jumping to solution mode - It’s important to resist the tendency to shift straight into solving problems and offering suggestions on how to 'fix things'. Instead remain in exploration phase. This means asking questions - what could have led to this? How does this look right now? What does this mean for us? - and general showing a willingness to listen and learn.
- Looking for the story - All results are a 'story' to be told, which can be used as a framing when communicating with the organization. Put your strengths and opportunities in context - i.e. What is most important to the organization? What's been happening in the past period of time? Where have we been focused? What is the most important thing to focus on going forward?
We always come back to the model of learn > act > repeat (ie you don't have to act on everything/get it right on the first go) - there's time to try things, change direction and shift tact
A few ideas...
It’s worth reviewing our results guides for managers and guide on analyzing survey results as these contain some useful tips (and in our experience, these simple tips are as applicable for the leadership team as they are for managers - if not more so!).
Sometimes, it's about just doing something together. The key thing is not to overcomplicate the process by trying to optimize for the perfect outcome; sometimes just choosing 1 thing to act on, and prioritizing some action on it, is the best approach.