The Art of Feedback

Summary: People want feedback more than once a year. Provide the feedback by being specific, open, create accountability and being timely.

Feedback

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This is a conversation that comes up at least once a month. 

Client:  We need new performance reviews.

Me:  Ok, what are you trying to accomplish with the reviews?

Client: We need to give our employees feedback.

Me:  Is this the only time you give feedback?

Client:  Well…..yes….unless something really blows up.

Me:  Let’s talk more about giving feedback.

One of the reasons I have dislike for performance reviews is because this conversation is all too common. We aren’t providing our people with feedback on a regular basis, it’s not really intentional…we aren’t really looking to hide how a person is doing…mostly it is a matter of time or timing.

First, let’s talk about the amount of time it takes. If you sit down and think about how long it takes someone to say “good job” it’s a few seconds. Do you have time for that?

Second, what about timing. You can probably guess the answer here. The timing should be in the moment it happens.

Lastly, how to give feedback. There is a little of an art form to this in order to have impact and have others understand the feedback you are giving to appreciate it.

Be specific:  “Good job” alone may sound great, however it could leave a person wondering “for what?”.  Tell people what they did well and under what circumstances. For example:  Great job on handling customer smith’s complaint about the late shipment. I appreciate how you kept calm and got it resolved.  In this example, the is no room to wonder “what did I do right”.

Be open: Let’s face it, there will be times when the feedback won’t be positive. Don’t make the person feel worse, this will just close them off and make them not want to tackle issues in the future. Instead of – The next time this happens, I need you to do this, or else we loose the customer. Say – Tell me what happened. Let them tell you in their own words what happened, remember you haven’t heard the whole story.

Create Accountability: When things do go wrong, create accountability in the team or person. Instead of telling them what to do, have them come up with solutions to either fix, resolve, or prevent in the future. This is as simple as – tell what you can do the next time to avoid/solve this issue.

Be timely:  Talk about it right after it happens. Let’s be honest, we don’t remember details a week later and sometimes a couple days later. Take the time to provide the feedback as soon after the event as possible. This will not only give the employees the feedback they want it, it shows you are being attentive and the incident is fresh in their memory.

Your people do want feedback more often than once a year, this is how they know they are on the right path. Lack of feedback makes people nervous, unsure, less confident and disillusioned. Don’t let it happen to you.

Share your feedback stories below in comments.

 

Removing the Leadership Blocks

Summary:  As leaders we all have blocks that may stop us from being better. Here are some common ones and how to overcome.

 

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This is going to sound silly – I love to play Candy Crush – yes I know it is a thoughtless and simple game. It is and that’s probably why it helps me slow down my thoughts. You know what I mean, that constant bombardment of thoughts you have throughout the day. Why am I telling you this? Well, while playing and trying to clear the blocks so I could win the level, it reminded me of the blocks we create in our own minds when it comes to working with people.

Do you have these common leadership blocks?

I want to be liked. This means you are more interested in having people “like” you and be friends than be respected and get the job done.  When you focus on “like” you are not focusing on the big picture or goals.  To overcome, focus on being respected for the way you treat people, your decisions and holding to your values. For this – some will like you and other’s won’t however you will be respected.

I don’t want to be pushy. This is common with people who were promoted and still working with people who were there peers. You are happy you were promoted and you also know what the team doesn’t like – pushy. To overcome, ask people questions about how they would handle a situation, let them come up with what needs to be done and then ask when you can expect to see something.

It will end up in an argument. This is part of avoiding confrontations. The good news is that most people do not like confrontations. The bad news is that not all will end in an argument – the scenario you are creating in your head rarely happens as it is the worst case. To overcome, rehearse the conversation in your head, listen to the words you are using – is there a way to still get the point across with using different words.

They don’t listen. This usually happens as a result of you not listening either. It turns into a power of wills or they believe they have better ideas. If you want them to listen, you must listen first. Ask them questions about what is happening, do they have suggestions or how would you handle – then discuss. Give them ownership of the process and/or situation.

What other blocks to you have? How have you overcome? Share below so we can all learn from each other.

 

What Employees Want You to Know

Summary: If I were to go around your organization and ask each person “What do you want your manager to know about leading you?”. What kind of answers would I get? Do any of these sound familiar?    

 

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If I were to go around your organization and ask each person “What do you want your manager to know about leading you?”  What do you think they would answer?

If you are cynical, your answers will be “I want more money” or “I need more time off” or “Tell me what to do as I don’t want to think”. If this is you, let’s talk – you can’t continue this way.

For the rest of you, it is safe to say most people want to do their best each day – however they are things that may get in the way and some of those are coming from you.

Here’s what they want you to know:

We are a team.  As in they are on your side and want to work together. Energy and ideas come from working with their peers and team mates. Give them time together to solve issues.

We are also individuals. While is seems to contradict the “team”, it is actually complimentary to the team. Each person has their own strengths, abilities, and differences. What may work for one person, may not work for the next. Understand they are individuals and will work differently.

Include me. Talk to them about ideas, challenges, or issues. They are at the front lines and can contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way. This also means – communicate. Talk to them, answer their questions, respond to phone calls and email. Let your actions show they are included.

Give me space.  Learn to delegate properly. No one wants to be micro-managed or constantly looked in on. Once you give a person an assignment or task to take care of, determine a follow-up date and get out of their way. The constant follow-up will actually demotivate them.

Mentor me. Do you have good employee? Do you have a person who shows great potential? Make them great by being a mentor. Find time to talk and work together…they will flourish and give you the credit.

What would your employees tell you? What else would you add to this list?

Want to get different answers from your people, start by contacting Andrea for a complimentary leadership consultation.

Do they Trust You?

Summary: To be an effective leader, you have to have “positive trust”. How do you know if you do?

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Regardless of the type of leader you are – business, community, volunteer, or sports. The one thing you must have, without a doubt, in order to be effective is Trust.

Trust:   assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something ~ Miriam Webster

Trust is one of those things that you either have it or you don’t. When was the last time you said “I kinda trust him” – probably never. You either trust someone or you don’t. I like to refer to having “positive trust” which is one that has a positive or encouraging element to it. In other words, you are trusted to do the right thing at the right time or with the right intentions.

“Negative trust” can be described as the opposite. The kind of trust where people know you will only do things in your own self-interest regardless of the effect on others, its all about you – not the company, peers, partners, etc. I have heard people say “my boss can be trusted – to mess it up” or “to ignore what we are saying” or “what’s best for the team”. Most people don’t want to have this kind of trust.

Do they trust you?

How can you tell? Here are some clues to see if you have “positive” trust.

  • People come to me with concerns
  • People share their ideas
  • They tell you things in confidence
  • They start conversations with “I know you can fix this”
  • People will share some of the negative feedback/gossip in order to turn it around.

If you don’t have trust, start with the small things to turn it around. While trust is easy to loose, it is hard to gain. Over time and with consistency you can regain their trust.

How do you know if you have trust? Share below.

 

 

Leadership is the key to Successful Teams

Summary: How does a team become successful? Leadership. Have a common goal, talk about it and more.

 

leadership, teamwork, goals

I realize it’s not an event everyone watches here in the USA or is obsessive as me. Every four years I look forward to the FIFA World Cup (soccer in the USA and football everywhere else). One the reasons I like it so much is that the best teams, not every country gets to compete, with their best players. If you are so-so on soccer watch a game or two and you may see why I’m addicted.

One of the amazing things about the national teams is the players don’t get a chance to play together often. The majority of their time is spent with their clubs, they may play with the national team several times a year in tournaments.

So how do these teams become so successful? Leadership. They have a common goal – championship. Having the goal defined is the starting point.  To make a championship team the coach makes sure each person understands their role, how it interacts with the others and how it helps the team. For example: the goalie is to stop the other team from scoring and the striker is to make goals.

So how does this translate to business? Easily.

Do you have a well defined goal? Does you team know what your goal is? How do they know if the company is successful? Do you measure sales? Customer service? Number of customers served? Which ever measures you use – are you sharing?

Take it a step further, don’t only share the goal, explain to them their role in reaching the goal, each person contributes regardless of their role inside or outside of the company.  Outside influences on your goals may be your CPA, vendors, consultants, etc. Help them understand the dynamics of working with each other. How each person affects the other which can result in achieving the goal.

What are your goals? How can your team help?

 

 

How Do You Make Them Feel?

Summary:  Maya Angelou has a wonderful quote about how people remember how you made them feel. Imagine your impact on the business if people feel empowered and engaged.

Maya Angelou has a wonderful quote that is directly related to leadership and working with people. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” leadership, leadership skills   Not sure if you agree, think back to people in your life – personal and work – and what are your first thoughts of them. Are they feelings? Feelings beyond happy, sad, and angry. How about the feelings of empowered, energized, respected, worth, or appreciated. Now take a look at the people you are working with, trying to influence in your life – would they use similar words to describe you? What impact would it have on you, those around you and your business if people would use these words to describe you? Too often we get caught up in the “do it now” and our own to-do list to see a bigger picture of helping someone in their journey. In a business this could mean your clients – are you going beyond the “work” and educating them? It could mean your employees – are you coaching them to be accountable? In your home life – how empowered are your parents, partner or kids? Feeling have a habit of being called “soft” or too “touchy feely”, that’s an easy way to dismiss we have greater impact on people than we may realize. Need assistance in working with your people and making them feel empowered or appreciated? Contact me for a complimentary discussion.

Saying “No”

Summary: Are you always being asked to help, join or lead? Are you finding it difficult to say “no”? Start changing it now and be empowered by it.

 

How to say no

Are you the person everyone comes to for help, to join a committee or to lead a group? I know I am.  One of the hardest things I have had to do is to learn to say is “no”. One of the reasons it so difficult is because we may think saying “no” is a sign of disrespect, lack of interest, or unwillingness to serve. I prefer to think of “no” as empowering – in the sense of it gave me control of my time, priorities again.

How does this happen?

For me it started early in my career when I was a work-a-holic. You know the saying, “if you want something done, give it to the busiest person”, that was me. You could be the person who always seemed to have the answer or the one who was willing to help the new person.  Look back and you can probably pick up where it started.

How to change it.

This can be the tricky part. Most of us are not comfortable with a straight out “no” to a request. Let me share my criteria to decide if I should say yes or no to a request:

  • Do I have the time?
  • Is it really a priority?
  • Can someone else do it?
  • Can a teach someone else to do it?
  • What’s the benefit to me? (advance career, business, connections, etc.)

I used to work with someone who was good at the “no”, granted he was more direct than I am, he had a great saying on his wall (you may relate).

A lack of planning on your part, does not constitute an emergency on mine.

Essentially, this is what you are asking yourself with the above question.

Redirect the request.

I find the easiest way to do this is by asking questions, it also helps the other person understand what they are asking. Your questions will vary depending on the request, here are some examples.

When in the workplace:

  • When is this needed?
  • How high of a priority is this?
  • If I need help to get it done on-time, is there anyone who can help?
  • Can I bring in additional resources to meet the deadline?
  • I will need to re-prioritize my activities, which ones do you think we can change the deadline?

When in business/outside of workplace activities:

  • What is the time commitment?
  • Who is involved and what are their roles?
  • Is it possible to attend several times before deciding?
  • Out of curiosity, what value do you think I can bring?

Once you get your answers, re-frame your “no” to fit the situation. For example – my schedule doesn’t allow for that time commitment or I’m sorry, I have greater priorities or If it can wait until Friday then I can help you.

Give it a try and feel empowered and liberated.

How to you say “no”? (share below in comments)

 

 

Building Business Relationships

Summary:  When I speak to others about working with other people, doesn’t matter the situation – networking, clients, employees, etc., it’s about getting to know the other person and not about you or a process or procedure. Sometimes we are so eager to answer their question or tell the world what we do – we forget all that we do starts with relationships.

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A reoccurring theme over the last couple of weeks have been about building relationships. It started with a talk I gave about “Accelerating the Know, Like and Trust Factor in Networking and Sales” it continued while I was coaching a Human Resources Manager about Employee Relations and ended with my own business development efforts. Once I stepped back I realized there was a common thread in my recent encounters – building relationships.

When I speak to others about working with other people, doesn’t matter the situation – networking, clients, employees, etc., it’s about getting to know the other person and not about you or a process or procedure. Sometimes we are so eager to answer their question or tell the world what we do – we forget all that we do starts with relationships.

In networking, you have to create relationships in order for people to refer you or work with you. Potential clients are more likely to work with you if they feel you are truly interested in them. Employees want more than answers they want to think you care about them.

So how can you get started? Here are some tips depending if you are meeting someone for the first time or if it someone you already know.

If you were to meet someone today, what would you do or say to get to know them better and create a “connection”?

  • Listen more than speak
  • Ask questions
  • Try to find a common ground
  • Ask how you can help them
  • Don’t talk about what you do unless they ask (I know this is hard)

With people you already know (clients, employees, contacts) keep working on the relationship.

  • Ask about them (small talk)
  • If you about a topic they are interested in say “did you hear about….”
  • Let them do the talking
  • Do this before you start working, talking about business, etc.

Even with these tips, the best thing you can do to build a relationship with another person is LISTEN. When you are listening don’t be thinking about anything else except what they are saying. Don’t be thinking about a point you want to make, don’t be thinking about your to-d0’s when they are done, don’t be thinking about the call/appointment/errand etc. you have, and don’t be looking around the room.

Magic happens when you really listen and pay attention to someone. Try to remember the last time you felt someone had all their attention on you and how that felt. Create that in someone else and you will see the relationship starting to build.

Please share below what your experience is when you use these tips.

 

The Answer is a Question

Summary: It can happen to us many times a day – we get asked a questions.  As respectful adults, we answer questions that are asked of us. However, when it comes to training people or furthering their development, the best answer is another question.

questions, employee coaching

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It can happen to us many times a day – we get asked questions.  As respectful adults, we answer questions that are asked of us. However, when it comes to training people or furthering their development, the best answer is another question. Normally this would drive us all mad, no one likes a question answer with another question.

When you trying to get people to think through a situation, the best thing you can do is NOT answer the question.

Let’s say they come to you with a situation or problem to solve. Instead of answering, you say “what would you do?” or “how do you think we should handle it?”.  The first time you do this, I can almost guarantee you will get a “deer in the headlights” look. It may take some encouraging to get an answer. Do this enough time and they will come to you with “this is the situation and I want to do this” and then you ask “what do you think the result will be?”.

Explaining the same thing over and over again. There are some people who no matter how many times you have answered the same question, they will always ask you again. By asking questions you can uncover what is driving this behavior (not understanding, insecurity, etc.).  Start by asking “What have you done already to take care of this?”.

This can even be applied to training. For example, you showing your new employee how to do a task on the computer system. What typically happens is we walk them through the steps, ask them to take notes and at the end say “understand?”. For fear of looking less than smart, the person who doesn’t understand, will say yes.  What if instead you told the person, “today we are going to walk through how to do a client search. Looking at your screen, where you do think a good place to start is?”. This will get the person to look over the program and determine the logic of the computer program and help them start to navigate.

The same process can be used to handle client inquiries, customer complaints, accounting processes, etc. So don’t be afraid to answer a question with a question. You will actually be helping yourself, the person and the company by getting an individual to understand the process, procedure, rationale, etc.

Contact us if you need assistance with using this questioning technique.

The Power of Listening

Summary:  We have lost the skill of active listening. What you need to do and how to benefit from it.

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Since we were young, we were told to listen. As children, we didn’t listen because we didn’t like what we heard. As adults, we have not gotten better, in fact we are worse. We have so much information going through our mind at any given time, it can be amazing we even know what we are thinking about much less what someone else is trying to tell us.

This lost skill, I would say is the most important in your business and as a leader. Why? Believe it or not people will tell you want they are looking, need and want. It’s in the words they use.

To actively listen to someone – there can be no distractions. Distractions can be external or internal.

External distractions are our phones, email, computer, people knocking at our door, etc. We have gotten better about turning off the external distractions, however the internal ones are much more difficult.

Internal distractions are our own thoughts. They can be related to what the person is saying, as in we are forming our answer, argument or story in support. They can be related to our own to-do list – “as soon as this conversation is over I have to do ….” or “When is that client going to call” or “I figured out the solution to a problem”, etc.

How often do you have your mind quiet when speaking to someone else? Free from thought? Intent on listening to what the other person is saying or not saying.

Try it and see what you learn about the other person.

Let me share how this approach has benefited me – more quickly establish the know, like and trust factor. Clients feel that I am giving them what they need not what I want. I’m able to close more sales. I gain more clients. I have more people willing to refer my services.

Would you like the same results? Contact me and we can discuss how I can help.