Feedback that Inspires Passion and Performance
By Jim Dawson
a manager or coach, it’s your job to help people reach higher levels
of performance. It’s
your job to reach inside yourself to find the interest, words, and
passion that encourages others to tap into their potential.
It is your responsibility to give the kind of support,
guidance, and feedback that changes lives.
To do it
well, you must have genuine respect for the individuals you influence
and a sincere desire to contribute to their growth.
Your intent determines whether what you say or do is
discouraging or affirming.
feedback validates what others have done well and guides them in the
direction they need to go. It’s
not a once-a-year conversation, it’s an ongoing dialogue that
motivates behavior and inspires excellence.
why do most managers wait until the end of the year to give feedback
to their employees? What
is it about our business culture that inhibits immediate conversations
about what’s going on and what can be done better?
Part of the problem is that today’s jobs are increasingly knowledge
based, technology oriented, and isolating.
We aren’t used to having straightforward conversations about
disagreements and performance challenges.
As a result, managers need, more than ever, to have the
ability to influence others and create cohesive teams.
To be successful managers, we need to give and receive feedback
at the time it is warranted.
Giving and Receiving Feedback Includes:
conversations help others to agree with you about what they need to
do. If an employee is
often late getting to work, in your conversation, help the employee
understand why his or her behavior has to change.
Then ask the employee to make a commitment to be at work on
time. Be clear about what
will happen if the agreement is violated and be prepared to enforce
someone on your team has made a mistake, ask “At the time this
happened, what were you thinking?” Take time to show you are
interested in what this person is saying.
Then ask “What do you think you can do differently next
time?” or “What ideas do you have for how you can avoid doing that
in the future?” Let the
employee come up with the answers.
The point is to examine the facts--not to make the other person
be proactive, you have to observe what people are doing and be seen
making these observations. This
gives you the opportunity to eliminate mistakes as or before they
happen. Don’t be afraid
to analyze mistakes openly with your direct reports, peers, or even
your own supervisor.
can be hard to develop this skill as few organizations foster a
non-judgmental atmosphere and people are scared they will be punished
if they are honest about what they’ve done.
As a manager, you have to earn the right to be trusted based on
how you handle errors and mistakes.
Modeling trustworthy behavior takes time.
You must be serious about this commitment.
And you must never punish someone for an original mistake.
This creates fear and an inhibition against trying new things.
Wherever possible, encourage people to apply their creativity.
If you can, let them test their ideas in a safe environment
that won’t directly affect the business.
to give successful, immediate feedback is a process.
In time, people will welcome your feedback because they trust
your intent and your desire to help them improve.
employees fail, it’s usually because they don’t understand what is
expected of them. Clear
expectations should be set when employees first come to work and they
should be held to them until it’s time to “up the ante.”
Managerial employees are expected to have certain skills in place, and
expectations can be increased over time. At all levels, expectations
should be identified and agreed to by both parties.
there is a problem, be a detective.
An assertion is not proof or evidence and you may not have the
story right. Before you
make a decision, ask questions to help you understand the contributing
factors of a situation and be open to other points of view.
Accept that people can do the wrong things for all the right
mistakes happen because someone is trying to improve the process—it
just didn’t work out.
is inevitable. If handled
appropriately, conflict can lead to greater understanding and new
ideas. Ask questions and
listen for the cause of the disagreement.
Let those involved speak their minds, and never invalidate
their opinions or emotions. When
the problem is defined you can lead the conversation toward a
importantly, feedback should be:
Base your conversation on the behavior you are addressing, what took
place, and what is expected. It
should never be about liking or disliking the person, or finding fault
or blame. It should be
about identifying the problem and having corrective action identified
Use clear, descriptive language and, if possible, demonstrate what you
are looking for, and have them do it for understanding.
Paint a picture about what the future could look like if person
realizes a higher potential.
Give your feedback as soon as possible, and check for
understanding by asking the person to summarize the points that were
conversation: One of
the best ways to gain trust and develop your own effectiveness is to
ask for feedback and accept it graciously.
If the feedback is sincere, find the truth within it and change
your behavior accordingly.
you are not used to giving immediate feedback it may seem awkward at
first. The key is to be
respectful of the other person and use direct but affirmative
language. Here are a few
tips to smooth the way:
“I” messages. Own what
you say and only use another person’s name and comments when you
have their permission.
“and” instead of “but.” Defenses go up when you say “You are
doing a good job, but...” Use
“and” to transition to comments on what the employee can do
about “what went well” and what you “want done differently,”
instead of using judgmental terms such as “what went right” or
“what went wrong.”
aware of the non-verbal messages you are sending including eye
contact, gestures, and tone of voice.
Avoid using absolute terms such as always, never, all
the time. They are rarely true and can make people defensive.
you keep an open dialogue going with those you supervise, there should
be few surprises. As you
are learning to give immediate feedback, keep the end in mind.
What you say and do has the power to change lives.
As a person in authority, it’s your job and responsibility to
lead others with your example, conviction, and feedback.
In time, people will welcome your interaction and you will make
valuable contributions to their success.
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