Educational Equity Newsletter – September 3, 2020
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Sharing Power and Seeking Feedback
Taking an antiracist and equitable stance as a manager often begins with understanding that power needs to shift, and you and other leaders on your team with formal authority don’t always have the right idea about how things are working and what needs to change. That’s why any conversation about managing more equitably must also include a conversation about how you’ll share power and seek feedback—particularly from those who report to you and across lines of racial and gender difference.
Are you as inclusive as you think you are?
Most managers we’ve coached think they do a fine job of seeking input on their decisions. Their people often disagree. As a quick litmus test, reflect on the following statements:
- My team members openly disagree with me on key issues in our meetings or in one-on-one check-ins.
- I can think of at least 3 times in the last 6 months where I substantially changed my plans or decisions based on input from my team.
- My team members share that I listen to their feedback and act on their constructive criticism.
- I intentionally delegate important decisions in a team member’s wheelhouse unless asked because I believe my team member is capable and can handle it. I often delegate important decisions to my team members.
- I don’t often swoop in at the last minute to change my team members’ decisions or directions.
If your answers to these statements were mostly “no,” you might not be leading as inclusively as you think. Of course, we understand that inclusive leadership isn’t always so clear-cut. We get that there are many reasons why you might not substantially change your decisions after receiving input, or that sometimes you may need to intervene at the last minute. Still, it’s important to notice patterns in your own behavior and examine both why you do it and how you go about it. And, it never hurts to develop more and better practices for seeking and incorporating various perspectives, especially on key decisions (we recommend Fair Process!).
Another way that you can share power more effectively is by distinguishing roles, responsibilities, and decision-making rights. We invite you to go one step further and look for trends across your team by race or gender in terms of which people wield the most power, and which don’t.
Building structures to seek feedback.
For most managerial relationships, an open invitation to “give me feedback” is often not enough to get the insights you need about what to stop, start, and keep doing. Instead, create moments to receive feedback. Implement regular 2x2s or incorporate feedback into your check-in with targeted questions about your management.