Success tips for a new manager - not all feedback is actionable. Here's why!
As a newly appointed manager it’s easy to fall into the trap of desperately wanting to fix your team’s issues and address every concern right away, especially if you have been promoted and you are painfully aware of what needs to change first hand. The intention behind this is great, and it’s what sets apart caring and competent managers from mediocre managers. However, as tempting as it might be to take action right away, consider the following points:
1. If this item is easy to address, why wasn’t it cleared by the previous manager?
A sa team member your perception of any situation would have been quite different than it becomes once you step into your manager role. Suddenly, you become aware of the bigger picture, you are bombarded by lots of data and information you didn’t have access to before. You start to realize your previous manager had a point in areas about which you used to disagree with them. You need the time to go through it all and you need to keep an open mind. There are two paths to failure - keep your team member point of view only OR keep your management point of view only, and only one road to success – integrate both perspectives into one and take decisions from this space.
Once settled into your new role, you will notice your employees approach you for any and all issues they are facing – that is, after all, part of your job description as a manager. When they do, consider the following:
2. Is the feedback regarding an actual problem that needs to be addressed, or is it an individual opinion? Does everyone involved share the same opinion?
We need to be able to identify the fine line between a fact and an opinion. The reason is that if you are presented with an objective fact, your approach will be a lot more straightforward. For example, “my system is not working”; “this process hasn’t been revised and analysed”; “John made me feel uncomfortable yesterday” – to generalize, those are objective facts regarding specific situations and specific people, even if they are describing a feeling. They are relatively easy to investigate and mediate.
In contrast, an opinion would be a more general statement you would need to further investigate, similar to: “nobody from that team is reviewing the accounts they are supposed to”; “we should change the process, it’s not working for me”; “John is making everyone feel uncomfortable”.
I have seen managers consider an individual opinion as fact way too many times. They jump towards updating procedures, changing departmental structures, addressing the team about the subject – all of this before considering all the information, data, individuals involved and affected. We always need to check if the issue brought to us is accurately depicted before we decide to act on it.
3. In case of conflicting feedback – strive to act on the more popular opinion
Naturally, this advice is not always applicable. Before we address feedback of any kind,we need to stick to the rules and regulations preceding it. As an example, let’s say you are doing a regular monthly refresher training session for your team. You ask them for feedback – whether they believe the format should stay the same or be updated. You have a total of 50 attendees, 48 of them provided feedback. 46 of them gave your training a score of 10/10, 2 of them requested updates to the structure of the meetings.
What do you think will happen with the 46 employees who are currently happy with your training if you immediately implement the feedback provided by the 2 employees who weren’t happy with it? Is it worth it to turn two detractors into promoters and 46 promoters into detractors?
We need to analyse feedback as data. In some cases you will receive valuable input by one or two individuals only, simply because the rest of the attendees didn’t think of it or they aren’t that interested in providing feedback. In other cases, you will receive a suggestion that might not add value to the group if implemented in the future.
Our advice here is to put such changes to a vote. If more than 50% of your group is happy with the proposed changes, go ahead. If not, it’s a good idea to reconsider.