Why don't your team take your feedback well?

Confused and not taking feedback well

Have you given feedback to one of your team members and feel like you can’t get through to them? That regardless of what you say and how you say it, it doesn’t have any effect on them whatsoever?

When you’ve got a new person starting in your team, you’re more likely to provide retail sales training rather than coaching. It’s a more directive, prescriptive approach and they’re usually more receptive as they’re learning the ropes.

But once the training wheels come off and they’re more comfortable in their role, that’s a different kettle of fish. By now, you’ve established a working relationship with them and you want to also establish a coaching routine.

This stage is more about perfecting the art, rather than learning the science behind it all. And providing effective feedback is a key element of coaching that you have to master.

In other words, the effectiveness of your coaching depends on your ability to provide on-target feedback. However, for them to take it on board, they need to be open and receptive to it. You need to get them in the right frame of mind. But that’s easier said than done, isn’t it?

What is the one thing that will get them to be receptive to your feedback?If you are coaching your team and you aren’t getting enough traction, it’s because there’s one key element you have been missing: TRUST.

Before you even start coaching your team, you need to build trust. Without trust, your coaching won’t be as effective and relevant as it could be.

So how do you build trust then?

A couple of years ago I came across a model developed by the Canadian Army called Organisational Trust*, which outlines (amongst many other things) the main elements that will enable a leader to build trust in an organisation. In my opinion, what is really powerful about this model is that it can be applied at work, at home and any time your goal is to build effective relationships through trust.

The model talks about these four elements:


This is our perception that someone can do their job effectively. It’s one of the two pillars and trust is very hard to build in its absence.  If you don’t deem someone as competent, how likely are you to take their advice? In the same way, if your team doesn't deem you as competent, the chances of them taking your feedback on board are quite minimal.


It’s about being honest and having moral principles. It’s knowing that someone will do the right thing in any given situation. You’re highly unlikely to trust someone who doesn’t have a (or you feel has the wrong) moral compass. This is the other pillar of trust.


When you know how someone will respond, we’re more likely to trust them. Why? Because if someone’s behaviour is predictable, it gives us certainty, security and we as humans are wired for that.


It’s the quality of being well meaning and kind. We want to be around people who we know that care about us. As a leader, your team want to feel well looked after. Competence and Integrity are the two main pillars. This means that they should be your starting point.

Without these two elements, you’re going to struggle to build a trustworthy relationship with your team. Once you’ve built a solid base with these two elements, predictability and benevolence will take trust to the next level, and build on the existing base.Now, developing trust is a process. It just doesn’t happen overnight, but as a leader, it is crucial to develop your team. It may not come naturally to you, but you have to develop it through hard work and practice.

So what can you do to individually build and grow each one of these elements of trust? Well, this has been a long enough post, so we’ll expand on them in future posts. Keep your eyes peeled!

In summary

If your team doesn’t believe that you are competent, that you will do what’s right, that you’re all over the place and that you don’t have their back… how effective will your coaching be and how likely are they to take your feedback on board?If building trust doesn’t come naturally to you, get outside of your comfort zone and start by modelling the right behaviours. Remember, competence and integrity are the basis to build that trust. Predictability and benevolence will build on that established basis.

*Reference: Megan M. Thompson & Ritu Gill (2015). Organizational Trust in the Canadian Army, Defence Research and Development Canada
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