Category Archives: Feedback

The no-fuss way for leaders to seek feedback

One of the biggest challenges faced by #21CenturyLeaders, is receiving regular, honest, #feedback.

You can overcome this challenge by using the following technique.

When you are conducting your regular one on one #conversations with your direct reports or peers, consider saying the following:

“Like yourself, I’m eager to improve myself as a leader, and I want to be the best leader I can be for our organisation. Over time, I have learned that it is challenging to improve without feedback. No doubt I have a view about how I’m performing and behaving, but it is never quite the same as hearing other people’s perspectives on how I am doing.

In that context, I would appreciate it if you would be willing to provide me with specific regular feedback? By regular, I mean every month or so, while sometimes it would also be helpful if you gave me immediate feedback if you saw something that needed instant attention.”

Is this something you would be interested in helping me with?”

(Assuming they agree – which most people will)…

To help them be effective with their feedback to you, they will need clarity and structure. In this context, there are four questions I recommend you ask them to focus on.

Continue reading The no-fuss way for leaders to seek feedback

How to receive second-hand feedback

Anna is a confident senior leader with seven people reporting to her, and Jo, one of her direct reports, is a trusted colleague.

Last week, Jo asked Anna if they could have a chat about something “sensitive”. Anna agreed.

Here is their dialogue from the start of their meeting.

Anna: What sensitive issue would you like to discuss with me?

Jo: It’s about Jason. He has asked if I can share some feedback with you on his behalf, but he doesn’t feel comfortable telling you.

Anna: Why doesn’t Jason feel comfortable telling me whatever he wants you to say to me? As you know, I have an open-door policy, and anyone can give me feedback. I always tell everyone they can say to me whatever they like, and I will listen. I thought I had a good relationship with Jason, which is disappointing news. And he has been part of our team for nearly a year now. I can’t believe he can’t tell me what is wrong. What is it that he wants you to say to me?

Have you ever been in Anna, Jo or Jason’s position? All three are tricky, aren’t they?

Continue reading How to receive second-hand feedback

You’re not listening to me!

One of the greatest frustrations that you can experience in the workplace is the feeling that you aren’t being listened to or understood.

Many of us will respond to this situation by getting louder and possibly even angry.

The interesting fact is that when we feel that we aren’t being listened to or understood, most likely whoever we are speaking with feels exactly the same way!

Think about a time when someone indicated to you that they felt you weren’t listening. Chances are that you felt exactly the same way.

“What do you mean I’m not listening! You haven’t listened to a single word that I have said!”

There are five steps that you can follow to help you in such circumstances.

1. Recognise what is happening
To be able to do anything about this situation, first you have to recognise what is happening. The first sign will often be your own frustration or emotional response to not being ‘heard’.

2. Stop and listen
The first step above is your signal to stop and listen. Nothing more, nothing less. Focus on trying to understand what they are saying. This is your challenge – to develop an understanding. You don’t have to agree with them, just understand them.When the person finishes speaking move on to the next step. Remember. Just listen.

3. Say “Thank you”
This step can be very hard, but it is very powerful. When emotions are running high it can be difficult to control what you say, especially if the person you are speaking with has just given you a verbal barrage. No matter what is said to you, start with, “Thank you.”

Feedback is like a gift, and just like some gifts that we receive are not about us (like the play station I gave my wife for her 30th birthday many years ago!) the important issue with gifts is that we know to say, “Thank you” when we receive them. This tip is very powerful when it comes to knowing what words we are going to use first when it is our turn to respond in a heated conversation.

4. Ask, “Is there anything more that you would like to tell me?”
This question highlights that you are focused on them and not yourself. It is an indicator that you are really trying to listen to them, which is exactly what you are trying to do. It is also very powerful when people just want to be heard.

5. In as short a number of words as possible, check your understanding with them
Once they have finished speaking in step 4 above, succinctly tell them what you understand their perspective to be. Do not include your perspective or try to defend your perspective. Your job is to let them know that you really do understand where they are coming from.

Upon telling them your understanding of their perspective, ask them to correct any misunderstandings that you may have presented.

These five steps are very powerful and address the core issue of being heard. Once people feel heard, the emotion element lowers and you can move into the more productive problem solving mode.

What is your experience of trying to put these five steps into action?

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Virgin Australia Listens and Responds

When I ask people if they are proactive with providing feedback to organisations a common response is, “What’s the point? They won’t listen to me anyway so I don’t bother doing it. If I can, I just take my business elsewhere.”

You may have been following my recent experience with Virgin Australia. You can review the story here if you like. While it took some time from start to finish, Matt Dixon from the Office of the CEO at Virgin Australia did a wonderful job in recognising the seriousness of my issue, respecting his fellow Virgin Australia team members by investigating their side of my experience and even exploring my issue beyond the boundaries of Virgin Australia.

My original purpose for contacting Virgin Australia was to ensure that poor passenger behaviour be managed appropriately.

The outcome of my feedback is that the crew involved in the flight have been re-trained in following existing Virgin Australia procedures as they relate to managing unruly passengers. In addition, by the end of July all Virgin Australia crew will have received re-training on this issue.

A final outcome is that the passenger at the centre of my experience is now known to all domestic airlines and the relevant authorities. It is safe to say that this person will not be flying in Australia for some time.

The point of sharing this story with you is to highlight that it is worth providing feedback to organisations when the issue is one that really concerns you. No doubt Virgin Australia does need to improve on its systems and processes so that issues such as mine don’t require the intervention of the Office of the CEO for them to be resolved. Ultimately that is one of the purposes of such an office and I give Virgin Australia credit for having a system where issues such as mine can be resolved at that level when the rest of the system fails.

Hopefully passengers will not be at risk of having a similar in flight experience to myself. That is the outcome that I had hoped would be achieved and Virgin Australia have proved, ultimately that they were prepared to listen and credit should be given where it is due.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Seeking Book Cover Design Feedback


Thank you very much to everyone who has provided feedback so far. Your feedback has really helped to take us to the next stage. Now we move on to Stage 2 of your feedback.

The overall concept is that there will be a familiar look about the four books. They will be differentiated by the colour ‘bands’ that are used on the books, as well as the images on the front cover.

I think we are pretty close with the first book, What Really Matters for Young Profesionals!, but still have a little way to go for the images for the other three books.

So, I’m interested in your feedback on the idea of having a consisent yet unique look about the books, your general view of the new designs and any other comments that you may have. If you can, try to think about how the four books would look like on a shelf next to each other.

Please feel free to add comments and/or to take the surveys. I have multiple options for the “Undergraduate students” and the “Aspiring Leaders” so please vote for your favourite in each of them. In the the survey the comment box is available for the “Young Professionals” and “Post-graduate Students” questions.

So here goes…

What Really Matters for Young Professionals!

What Really Matters for Undergraduate Students!
Number 1

Number 2

Number 3

Number 4

Number 5

What Really Matters for Post Graduate Students!

What Really Matters for Aspiring Leaders!
Number 1

Number 2

Number 3

Please feel free to be everything from nice and kind with your feedback, to being brutally honest!

Please click here to take the survey

Thanks again for your help,


Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

How to show respect when in the role of a manager

Recently a participant in a leadership development program for managers asked, “I’ve discovered that ‘respect’ is a core value of mine. What are some practical ways that I can ensure that this value is present in the way that I behave as a manager?”.

The following is the list of suggestions that emerged from the conversation that was conducted with this participant and another four people at their table. It is important to note that the following behaviours can be conducted irrespective of the culture that exists within the organisation.

  • Take the time to get to know each member of your team individually. This means that you would know the names of their partner, their children (if they have any). You would remember their hobbies and passions and genuinely inquire about how they are going with those pursuits. If you had a poor memory you would create a structure to ensure that you could remember these things. An example of such a structure is creating notes for each of the members in your team.
  • You would have a clear understanding of the career path that each of your team members is travelling and raise their awareness of any opportunities that would enhance their development in that direction.
  • You would let people do their jobs and trust them with appropriate authority for their roles. As much as possible you would stay out of their way but you would be explicit with them about why you would do that.
  • When bad information about your company was required to be shared with your team, you would share it. You would not ‘sugar coat’ the news.
  • You would provide performance feedback to your team members and make it as easy as possible for them to provide you with feedback. You would not ‘sugar coat’ feedback.
  • You would be proactive about ensuring that the remuneration of your team members was ‘fair’ in the context of your organisation and industry. This means that if you discovered that someone’s package was not ‘fair’, you would do whatever your system would allow you to do to rectify that situation.
  • You would recognise and reward your team members for their contributions.
  • You would be proactive with letting your team members know about opportunities that might take them out of your team if your view was that the opportunity aligned with their career aspirations as you understood them.

This list of examples is just a start. Once again it is important to note that these behaviours can be adopted irrespective of the overall culture within the organisation.

What are your examples of how, as a formal leader you have practiced the value of ‘respect’ in your role? How have you catalysed Conversations That Matter®? Or, if you would like more information about how to practice the examples provided above, please let me know.

Again, please add your comments to this article as I would like to learn from your experiences in putting the value of ‘respect’ into action.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at