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What to do when your team resists feedback

1 March 2016

Although giving feedback and constructive criticism is a vital part of any management role, in the healthcare industry it can have a significant impact on patient health. Managers often find that in fast-paced, high-risk work environments such as hospitals, feedback can be met with opposition. When employees reject constructive criticism and refuse to take your comments on board, it makes for a challenging situation.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, leadership coach Deborah Grayson Riegel offers some tips on dealing with day to day feedback issues, providing examples on how to approach individual situations.

So how can you deal with it?

Choose your words wisely

If you notice that a particular employee has resisted feedback in the past, try to approach the situation differently next time. Adopting a new perspective – like attempting to discern the reasons behind their reluctance – will often lead to a more productive interaction.

Grayson Riegel suggests that instead of saying, “When I give you feedback, I notice you won’t make eye contact”, try “When I give you feedback, I notice you look at the floor. I’d like to understand how you’re feeling”.

Empathise with your team

An understanding manager is an asset to every team, especially when they are resistant to feedback. A little context goes a long way, so recognise employees may not comprehend why you are seeking to change their behaviour.

It also pays to draw on times when you received feedback from a manager, and detail those experiences to your staff. “Share the impact of that experience,” Grayson Riegel suggests, “what you learned from it, and how you’ve changed as a result.”

Set goals together

By becoming involved in the process, your staff member will take ownership of their achievements. Integrate your separate ideas and work towards a common goal. Be clear about your expectations, and ensure that you communicate regularly throughout.

Grayson Riegel suggests trying the following, “Moving forward, here’s what I’d like to see happen: I’ll give you some feedback and if you feel that you disagree, have a different perspective, or that I’m not getting the whole picture, you’ll tell me. I’ll agree to understand to your take on the situation, and we’ll come up with a plan together. Does that work for you?”

If leadership is in your nature, and postgraduate studies on your horizon, an online Master of Healthcare Leadership or MBA in Managing & Leading People at SCU is perfect for you. Learn management strategies, extend your ability to lead a team and build on your leadership capabilities, all while applying them to a healthcare setting.

To find out more, call one of our student enrolment advisors on 1300 589 882 today.