Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Giving Great (and REAL) Feedback

Wouldn’t it be great if giving feedback could promote better workplace relations, improve rapport, and also garner desired change?  It’s possible – and not all that hard.

Delivering feedback is a challenge not only facing managers and supervisors, but facing anyone who wants to tell another person that s/he needs to change.  The challenge for most people is that they don’t want to hurt, disappoint, shock, or anger the person they are informing.  Out of their own fear, most people tend 
to stumble through such an effort.  They are unclear, rambling, incomplete or even abrupt in their delivery.  The result being that both parties find the interaction painful or unsettling.  No wonder it’s something so many of us avoid.

I have found the following to be a truly functional way of delivering feedback:

BEFORE Giving the Feedback
1.    Do your homework – Giving useful feedback requires an understanding of the big picture.  So before giving criticism on someone’s time management for example, find out what is on their plate and from whom.  Find out what they believe to be the priorities and why. 
2.    Find the Good (for them) – You may be about to deliver them a blow, but what could be (or is) the upside for them?  For example, a manager is seen by peers as under-performing.  The upside is that others believe in his/her potential. 
3.    Set up a meeting – Sharing feedback is a conversation, not a quick or one-sided announcement.  Schedule time for you and the other person to speak.  Tell them (generally) what the conversation will be about.  For example, “…To discuss your work with our team.”  Make sure to schedule the meeting to last at least 30 minutes.  This signifies the importance of the meeting, and promotes the conversational element of it.

DURING – Make it a Conversation
4.    Begin with the Facts and Big Picture – When the meeting begins, don’t delay.  Explain why you are meeting with them, what the concerns/problems are, and give them the positive (“up-side”) to the feedback.  Describe it as such.  Keep this succinct.
5.    Allow Them to Respond – It’s natural for them to be defensive - let them speak their peace.  Then remind them of the initial statements of fact and the “up-side” to it. 
6.    Work Toward Solutions – After the concerns are clear, ask them for their ideas/thoughts on improving the situation.  Be encouraging!  If they are stuck, or (once they have finished) if you have ideas that you’d like to share, ask permission to share your own thoughts/ideas for improving the situation.  When possible, weave these ideas with the “up-side” you’ve uncovered.
     CLOSING - Wrapping Things Up
7.    Demonstrate Your Support – Once a plan for (their) change has been decided, demonstrate your support by describing what you will be doing to help. 
8.    Show Gratitude - Thank them for meeting with you and working on this together.

Remember, change is hard.  The feedback meeting is only the first step in promoting and fostering change.  Be sure to check in on the situation regularly.  Follow-up both with the recipient of the feedback, and with those who may be more aware of any changes that are occurring. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Sports Bet

I’m a baseball fan – a Dodger fan to be specific, and I typically don’t pay much attention to other sporting events or teams.   But, I’m betting on UCLA football this year.  Why?  Because I heard about Jim Mora’s efforts to build his team during pre-season camp.  Beyond the drills and the practice, coach Mora instilled another principal about building a team – getting to know each other off the field.  I respect this, because I also understand the importance of building relationships – it’s what I see as the change agent in a business’ success.  

Coach Mora did this by discouraging the use of cell phones during the two week training camp in San Bernadino.  Some assistant coaches took it a step further, actually confiscating the phones of some players.  The message was clear – if you want to work well as a team, you need to bond.  You need to be on the same page.  You need to get away from connecting with people via text and Facebook, and start building relations with those who are on your team- literally and figuratively.  Likewise, true in business.    

Spending time together, making eye contact, listening to each other's stories.  These are the things that will help a team learn about each other.  And as they do, players (just as co-workers) will begin to anticipate each other’s responses and reactions.  Their intuitions will develop, as will their capacity to understand each other.  I expect they will become more comfortable at being direct and honest, and likewise, more capable of showing compassion to their fellow teammates.  By developing their connections off the field, the Bruins are insuring their success on the field. 

The message is simple:  Teams need to work together, to support one another, and to be aligned in their goals and their methodologies.  A lesson that rings true both on the field, and in the office.