How and why to get feedback from the project team

importance of feedback

Getting feedback from the project team is one of the things that seem most obvious for a project manager, but that can be very difficult.

It is a task of the project manager to support and challenge the team, so that together they can achieve the expected results.

To do this effectively, however, the project manager needs to know if he is supporting and challenging the project team in the right way or if, despite his good intentions, he is unwillingly holding it back.

A project manager must know what he does well, so that he can continue to do it, but he must also understand his weaknesses in order to correct them. In short … the project manager needs feedback. How to get it then?

First, if a project manager wants to receive feedback from the project team, he must focus on the actions he can take to receive it.

The tactics that we will illustrate in this article will help the project manager increase the chances of receiving the much desired feedback from his project team.

Exit interviews and feedback

Usually, companies rely on employee exit interviews to get information on a manager’s effectiveness. But what is the use of understanding how an employee feels about his manager when he has already decided to leave the company?

Although it is not too late for the manager to hear this feedback, it is still too late to use it in the proper way.

Quality feedback should help the project manager to work better with his team, improve leadership style, and make sure that he is aware of the problems before they become serious and dangerous for the project. Gathering interviews only when the collaborators leave the organization, although not completely useless, makes little sense.

How to get feedback from the team: Ask specific questions

Have you asked the project team specifically for feedback lately? In fact, there is a big difference between thinking that you want to receive a feedback and asking it directly.

Adopting an “open door policy” is often not sufficient and it is necessary to ask the team directly for feedback.

Moreover, it is not optimal to ask for generic things like “Do you have any feedback for me?”. This is a vague request and it is difficult to know what the person really wants to know without specifying a context.

Instead, it is good practice to ask for a feedback and ask specific questions such as:

  • How could we organize our team meetings in order for them to be more effective?
  • Would you like more or less direction / support from me during your work?
  • What could I do to make your job more enjoyable?
  • Do you think your ideas are considered by the team? And by me as a project manager?

With specific and targeted questions, it is easier to receive an honest feedback.

How to get feedback from the team: Be grateful and accept feedback – especially if negative

Think of the last time you provided someone with a strong and potentially negative feedback. Did the person immediately accept it? Or did he argue and try to say it was not true?

Any person who receives a rather negative feedback may be slightly on the defensive at first, but if the attitude is really extreme, to the point of not accepting feedback, answering badly, and even being offended, you will probably think twice before providing a feedback again.

Same thing applies in the case of the project manager! If he remains defensive towards the feedback team, it is not surprising that in the future the team members will hesitate to provide further feedback.

If a team member is giving a feedback, see it as a gift.

This means that the person cares a lot about sharing his point of view, so that things can improve for both.

It is undeniable that some pills are more difficult to ingest than others, but it does not change the fact that the final intent is to help.

The next time you receive feedback from a team member, try this approach to make sure you continue to receive constructive feedback:

  • Take a break and thank for the feedback before saying anything else.
  • Ask the person to share a recent situation that is linked to the feedback, in order to contextualize it.
  • Ask for clarifications to make sure you understand the essence of the feedback.
  • Discuss possible solutions or changes or, if the behaviour cannot be changed, explain why.

Receiving feedback is not always a pleasant experience. However, with a little practice and an open mind, it is possible to make the project team more peaceful when providing feedback.

This inevitably makes employees more likely to give more feedback in the future.
feedback from team

How to get feedback from the team: Act

When the project manager receives feedback from his team, his work has just begun.

The team has indeed shared feedback with the project manager, because they want to see things change. Otherwise, why would they worry about sharing it?

If a fact is so important that it is worthy of feedback to the project manager, it is something the team wants to see changing. And if this progress is not shown, it will certainly be discouraging for them.

A project manager who does nothing with the feedback he receives is unlikely to get more feedback in the future, or have a long-term committed team.

For this, it is necessary to transform the feedback into action.

When getting feedback, the project manager should take a few minutes to discuss the next steps.

This action gives the team members the feeling of being heard and helps them understand what progress could be made in relation to their feedback.

Each situation will be slightly different, in general there are three possible feedback scenarios:

  • The project manager changes something: his actions will positively confirm the team’s courage to give feedback.
  • The project team changes something: the project manager helps the team create the type of organization they want to work for.
  • The project manager explains why that particular behaviour cannot be changed: when something cannot be changed, it is necessary for the project manager to help the team understand why the situation must remain the way it is and must create empathy.

How to get feedback from the team: Use reciprocity

Are you giving – as a project manager – your feedback to the team? Are you taking actions that you would like to be reproduced by the group as well?

It is important in this case to know the power of reciprocity. Reciprocity lies deep in the psyche of human beings.

A small example: if you give someone a gift or do something for a person, this person will feel indebted to you and will therefore be more inclined to return the favour or do something else requested by you with a similar value.

Reciprocity prevails over feelings.

Even if you don’t have a good relationship with all the team members, reciprocity can still help you get more feedback.

As Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” By changing the concept of “country” with that of “team” in the context of project management, we have the definition of reciprocity.

How to get feedback from the team: Give the example

There is nothing more important than the example that a project manager, as a leader, gives to the team.

In fact, the project team observes daily what the project manager does, and his actions are even more relevant than his words.

If the project manager wants feedback to be a fundamental part of his team’s culture and habits, then he must learn to give the right example to follow.

Here are some ways to do it:

  • Provide feedback and praise to the team: as discussed above, it is important to create a situation of reciprocity.
  • Hold a reflection meeting on the project: when a major problem occurs or a project ends, it is important to take time to meet with the team to talk about what went well or wrong and what to do differently next time. It is a great way to make everyone focused on improvement.
  • Take responsibility for your own mistakes: if the project manager shows that the feedback is appreciated and that this brings a change, the team members are more likely to do the same when it comes to them. If a project manager is open to constructively criticizing himself, this automatically makes the entire team more open.

Receiving constructive feedback may not always be easy, especially when it comes from employees.

However, feedback can provide very useful information about the expectations of team members, about things that need to be improved in the workplace, and how employees perceive their manager.

Following the advice we have listed in this article, will help you encourage team members to feel comfortable when providing constructive feedback.

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One try is worth a million words.

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