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This post was last updated June 28, 2023.
Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Livian. He believes that business is nothing but a conduit for personal growth and embraces the company’s vision to “love how you live.” When he’s not leading and growing his organizations, you can find Adam either in the mountains or out in nature with his wife and three children.
When it comes to agents and employees giving feedback to their boss or leadership team, things can get a bit tricky, but it’s worth investing the time to get it right.
Giving and receiving feedback is a powerful tool for strengthening the relationship between colleagues, business partners, clients and agents, companies and consumers. It gives the individual information about how to improve their performance, behavior, communication and more.
Even if you have the most understanding and supportive boss out there, there is a power dynamic to work through. There are a lot of emotions, assumptions and fears that need to be overcome before the feedback is given. It’s not easy to share less than positive information with the person responsible for your paycheck.
However, just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. In fact, as a leader, I welcome and applaud those individuals who are willing to give me feedback. Not everyone will.
Too often, leaders have too many “yes-people” around them when what they really need is someone to be the truth-teller, the one to share the difficult things and help them become more self-aware. Agents, if you can do that for your leader, you will be setting yourself apart and setting yourself up for long-term success.
Here’s how to give feedback to your boss or leadership team.
Set your intention for the conversation
Once you’ve decided to give feedback to your leadership team, it’s very easy to just start spewing out every complaint, thought and improvement you want your boss to make. That’s not always helpful.
Get clear on the specific feedback you want to give and know what result you are looking for before you begin the conversation. You don’t need to fit it all into one feedback session. Start with one issue and then set another meeting to tackle the next piece of feedback.
Have you seen a morale issue on the team that you think needs to be addressed? Do you have ideas for how the team’s listing presentation can be improved? Do you believe your leadership team needs to consider an alternate contact relationship management (CRM) system to better serve clients and agents? Has your team leader failed to give clear direction to the team, or is setting what you believe is an unrealistic standard for production without the necessary support and training?
Decide what feedback you need to convey and get clear on what result you would like to see. It doesn’t mean you will get what you want, but you will at least be clear on why you are having the conversation in the first place.
Perhaps you just want to be heard. Maybe you want a weekly team meeting added to the calendar. Or do you want your leader to reset the production goals for the team?
As you are giving feedback to your boss, make sure you are prepared with specific examples. Vague complaints or ideas are not helpful for anyone. Again, you don’t need to belabor the point, but bring one to three very clear examples of the issue you are presenting. The more recent the better.
Examples tell a story and make it easier for everyone to understand exactly what you are talking about. They also remove some of the bias of emotion or opinion. Regardless of how either party interprets the event, it happened and will give you both a level playing field from which to have a productive discussion.
Stay in curiosity and out of judgment
You may have brought all the facts and feelings and feedback to the conversation and you’re ready to be right. Wrong! These feedback discussions are not about one person winning and one person losing. They are about exploring an issue, understanding it from both people’s perspectives and coming to a mutually beneficial solution as much as possible.
There are always three sides to every story: my version, your version and the truth. Stay open and curious as you are giving feedback to your boss. You’re not there to judge or be right. You are there to help them improve, which in turn will help the company and your real estate career improve.
If you are having a difficult time starting the conversation, you can use something like this to get the feedback going: “I’m prepared to be wrong here, but I noticed that XYZ is happening on the team and I think that it is hurting the overall morale. And I wanted to get your perspective.”
Or you could say something like, “I noticed that the production goals on our team seem out of line with the support we are receiving from leadership. For example [insert example here]. What is your perspective? What am I missing?”
Let go of the outcome
Finally, you can’t control how your leadership team will react to the feedback. They may get defensive. They may brush off your concerns. They may go on the offensive and start pointing fingers. They may dive right in and start working with you on a solution. Regardless of which direction the conversation goes, know that you can only control how you show up and how you respond throughout the conversation.
If you have gotten clear on your intention for the conversation, prepared specific examples and stayed open and curious, all you can do is stay present throughout the conversation and work with your leadership team toward a solution.
That is ultimately what you are after. You wouldn’t be giving the feedback in the first place if you didn’t want to help make everyone better. When your intentions are pure and you seek to contribute, you really can’t lose.
What feedback have you been avoiding giving to your leadership team? Who do you really need to give feedback to right now? Schedule it. Tackle it today and get it on your calendar. Success in work and life happens one conversation at a time. The more feedback you give and get, the better everyone will become.
Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Livian, the author of The Founder & The Force Multiplier and the host of the podcast Business Meets Spirituality. Learn more about Adam’s companies and culture here.