3 Reasons Why You Are Not Getting Productive Feedback From Your Team

Photo Credit: Jon Tyson, Unsplash

Photo Credit: Jon Tyson, Unsplash

Feedback is your friend.

At least, that’s what we’re taught as leaders.

I knew the phrase for years.

I sort of embraced the principle, but truth be told, as a young leader I struggled greatly with this.

Honestly, at times I still wrestle to practice it effectively.

My insecurity was sabotaging the honest feedback loop I so desperately needed. The very thing I needed was also the thing I dreaded and avoided.

How about you?

All too often, my fragile ego couldn’t handle a raw and honest assessment of my leadership or our team’s objectives.

Usually leaders will come to a place that they want to improve in their craft and advance their mission more than they desire to protect their image and ego. About this time, is when a leader typically finds a team around them that has stopped offering up honest feedback.

A couple members of our lead team at Freedom Church recently interviewed, Kyle Jackson, one of the campus pastors for Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama.

Kyle gave us three reasons team members don’t offer up helpful feedback.

Grab these, they are GOLD.

3 Reasons People Aren’t Offering Honest Feedback:

1.    They’re Afraid.

If people see you bite the head off of a person for offering up their honest opinion, you will probably silence the rest of the team. Everyone will hide their desperately needed perspective if you publicly or verbally shoot the bearer of “bad news”.

Sometimes their fear is not your issue or fault.

Some people struggle with the fear of man and the need for approval so deeply that they are too self-conscious to hurt anyone’s feelings or ruffle any feathers. (At times I’ve certainly been guilty of this.)

Nevertheless, fear is a massive momentum killer as it pertains to fostering honest dialogue and input.

The good news is you can overcome it. Next week, my post will deal with how to overcome this and the other two barriers to gaining honest and productive feedback.

 2.    They’re Apathetic.

Some team members don’t care enough about the mission or objective to put themselves out there.

They’d rather not be misjudged.

They’d rather not create more work for themselves.

They’d rather have someone else have to speak up.

The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead. -William Lloyd Garrison

By far the most dangerous foe we have to fight is apathy-indifference from whatever cause, not from a lack of knowledge, but from carelessness, from the absorption of other pursuits, from a contempt bred of self satisfaction. -William Osler

Apathy is a silent-killer of progress and team cohesion.

Don’t let it run wild on your team. It has to be checked.  

If you don’t confront apathy, you’ve just confirmed it.


3.    They’re Absent-minded.

Some people on your team simply don’t see what you see.

Either they are not fully present and engaged or they have never been trained to have a constructively critical eye towards progress.

There are some people who ask, “Why did this happen?”

Others ask, “What’s about to happen?”

And still other team members who ask, “What just happened?”

Everyone operates will differing levels of awareness. Some levels of awareness can be trained and others are intuitive.

Absent-minded team members will not only fail to offer up suggestions, solutions and constructive feedback, they will attract other absent-minded people to your team!

We attract and get who we are not what we want.

The goal, as the leader of that team, is to help identify which blindspot(s) you are dealing with and go after them.

Don’t play the victim.

Don’t think you’re the only one dealing with these issues.

That may make you feel better in the moment, but will not fix anything in the long-run.

Be careful not to project blame before you accept responsibility.

Next week I’ll share with you…3 Ways To Create A Culture Honest Feedback.

Lee Cockerell, author of Creating Magic, former VP of Operations at Disney who was also an executive with Hilton and Marriott, states that all the solutions we need are buried in our front-line team members and customers.

“Those that are closest to the problem are the most insightful of the solution.” Carly Fiorina

If we could just foster a feedback loop to glean some honest and productive feedback, we could make huge strides in developing fresh momentum and innovation.

I think Lee knows what he’s talking about. After managing over 40,000 “cast members” or Disney employees for 16 years, his perspective is spot-on.

Let’s talk more about this next week.

Until then, let me know what you are thinking, struggling with and wanting to learn.


  • Which of the three reasons do you currently feel your team is struggle the most with?

  • What’s a reason we didn’t cover in this post that you are finding a frustrating wall to productive feedback?