Managers should foster an atmosphere that welcomes feedback

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 By Jack Nevison

Candid feedback is crucial for any project. This applies whether the feedback is coming from customers or arises from within the project team itself. Skilled project managers know that in order to succeed, they need to create an environment that welcomes all opinions—even critical ones—from their colleagues.

A recent article on the Harvard Business Review blog detailed some strategies managers can use to achieve such conditions. Contributor Ed Batista writes about the importance of fostering an atmosphere of "safety and trust." In other words, since positive emotions have been shown to correlate with good job performance, managers should get to know their team members and make an effort to understand who they are as individuals.

"The ability to discuss emotions is a critical feature in any group that aspires to share effective feedback, not only because feelings are at the heart of most difficult feedback, but also because feedback inevitably generates difficult feelings," Batista writes. "When we can talk about our embarrassment, disappointment, frustration, and even anger, the culture is sufficiently safe—and robust—to handle real feedback."

Of course, it isn't enough to talk about safety, trust, and candor without following through. Nothing is worse for team morale than a manager who does not "walk the talk." Batista encourages managers to be transparent and explicit in asking for feedback about certain decisions.

At New Leaf Project Management, our program "Leading the Project Team: the Human Side of Management" shows you how to talk about task and relationship behaviors with your team. In addition, our online project management training programs provide an excellent opportunity to earn PDU credits for PMP recertification.

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