4 Reasons Your Feedback is Being Ignored

The number one frustration I hear from team leaders is that their feedback falls on deaf ears. The employee seems to get it–for a minute, and then they go right back to their old habits.

So they give the same feedback again, this time “louder” either literally, or through progressive discipline, or sadly sometimes threats or biting sarcasm.

Sure, there are some folks out there “you just can’t fix,” but frequently that’s not the real issue.

4 Reasobuilderns Your Feedback is Being Ignored

When I turn the tables and ask the employees why the behavior continues, here’s what they tell me.

  1. The Feedback Flood Factor
    “I’m trying to do better, I really am. But it’s all just too much. Every time we meet, he’s giving me something else to work on. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get it right, so I’ve learned to just block him out and do the best I can.” If you want real change, isolate one behavior at a time.
  2. The “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” Factor
    “My boss keeps telling me my customer courtesy credits are too high– that I’m costing the business too much money. So I really worked on that for a while. But then, I found my customers started to ask to speak to my supervisor. And guess, what? She always gave them the credit! She looks like the hero, and the credit she gives them goes against my numbers and I still end up on progressive action.” If you want your employees to hear your feedback, be sure you’re following your own standards. If there are reasons you make exceptions, be sure you clearly differentiate and explain the thought process, so they can follow consistent parameters.
  3. The “I Don’t Know How” Factor
    “My manager says I need to be more strategic. That sounds awesome. I’m all for that. But what does that mean? How do I do that?” Be sure your feedback is specific and actionable. Explain what success looks like in terms of specific behaviors.
  4. The “I Disagree” Factor
    “My supervisor keeps asking me to do this, but I just don’t think it’s right. It’s going to have a negative impact on MY customers. I’ve tried to explain my concerns, but she just keeps citing policy, and that this decision is ‘above my pay grade.’ ” Sure, we all have to implement policies we may not agree with, the important factor here is to really listen to the concerns and explain why. Just shutting down the conversation MAY lead to compliance, but not always. And it certainly won’t lead to commitment.

Most employees want to do a good job. If your feedback is being ignored, dig deeper to get to root cause.

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Posted in Results & Execution and tagged , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

10 Comments

  1. Great points and communicated very well! This is especially important in our era of collaboration, when feedback is such an important part of our existence.

  2. Oh jeez, these are all way too familiar (from a receiving end mostly, but I’ve done a couple myself too).

    I know I take someone’s advice WAY more internally when I see that they take others’ advice or my own. If they are always putting on an air of “having it together” and not allowing imperfection to show through, then I take the advice more as an extension of their insecure perfectionism than true words of wisdom and humility. It also helps immensely if they wrap it in my strengths: “You’re so good at making and sticking to lists. I wish I had that discipline. Could that skill of yours be used for making a template on running meetings so we can create more structure and consistency for the team?”

    • James, You raise excellent points here. That could easily be a 5th one. So agree, it’s much easier to accept feedback from someone who knows how to receive it.

  3. Great list Karin!

    Another reason I think feedback is ignored is that often leaders are inconsistent in their message. If the market changes, that can create automatic shifts in direction but in general, feeback that is consistent is taken more seriously.

    • LaRae, Great! Now that’s a 6th one. Love it when our LGL community expands the thinking. Namaste.

  4. Hi,

    I have a team of 31 people across all age groups and gender. We are in a new business and are facing challenge from industry leader to grow. Since the team is small we need to handle roles beyond the prescribed brief and here communication and feedback plays a major role.

    Rajendra

  5. I so relate to number three. I used to work for a boss that wanted us to tell people to “step up”. Then he would be disappointed when they didn’t. I couldn’t seem to get him to understand that without more guidance people didn’t know what “step up” meant or how to go about doing it.

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