Posts Tagged ‘Feedback’

How accountable are you?

March 17, 2014

The Accountability Ladder is a tool we use a lot at Blue Sky; it’s part of the company lexicon and used to help us understand why we’re not achieving everything we’d like to at work and at home. So, how does it work? Well, a recent conversation with my nine year old nephew explains it rather well:

“Hey Vincent, is everything ok, you’re looking a bit worried?”
“I’ve got a bit of a problem, I’ve not done my school project”
“So how come you haven’t done it?”
“Well, I didn’t know it needed doing.”
“Hmmm, but if you didn’t know it needed doing, how come you’re telling me about it?”
“Well, I guess I did know that it needed doing…”

In this short exchange, young Vincent is already on the shifting sands of perspective. So how does the tale fit with the tool?

Well, the Accountability Ladder describes the eight levels of accountability that allow us to step back, evaluate and really look at the choices we make and how we handle different situations. The top four rungs describe accountable behaviours (things that happen because of you) and the bottom four describe victim behaviours (things that happen to you). The more time you can spend towards the top of the ladder, the more opportunities you can open up for yourself and your team and the more attainable your goals will be. 

So, although I wouldn’t want to say that a young nine year old is a victim or displaying victim behaviours, in the sense of the model, Vincent was just not taking accountability. What he was trying to do was hold on to being right about being wrong; his own very good reason not to change. Indeed, in his own mind, an entirely adequate reason for his lack of effort or his lack of success. Our conversation didn’t stop there:

“When you said you didn’t know, but you did know, what’s the real reason you haven’t done it?” I asked.
“Well, I never really had it explained to me, the teacher didn’t make it clear,” so he moved to a place of blaming someone else.
“Ok, what didn’t the teacher make clear?”
“Well, she didn’t make it clear… well, actually she did make it clear”.

Even at this point, Vincent’s fertile imagination continued to justify his inaction:
“We’ve just been so busy this holiday” (still at the bottom of the ladder…. someone else’s fault for taking him out and showing him a good time).
He then moved up the ladder to excuses.
“Well I can’t do it now because there’s only three days left so it’s pointless, it’s not worth me doing it”.

So here he’s kind of saying there’s maybe something I could have done, but at this point I’m still right in not having to do it, if it was my fault before, I’m still ok because there’s no time left.

He then went on to say: “Well, with a bit of luck, some of the other kids won’t have done it either.”

So Vincent is now on the wait and hope rung and what he’s really doing is saying: “These are all the reasons I haven’t done it: I didn’t know about it, other people should have explained it to me, I can’t do it now because I don’t have time and with a bit of luck, other people won’t have done it either.”

In a work context, we’ve all sent a wait and hope email; the kind where our response is non-committal or pushes the responsibility away… the kind where you press send, sit back, sigh in relief and cross fingers that it won’t come back.

So when we choose the “I didn’t know” and “blame others” excuses, or “I can’t” and “wait and hope”, the chances are we’re stuck. So next time you find yourself thinking “I can’t talk to that person because they’re just so aggressive” (blame others) or “I haven’t got the time” (excuse) or “well at some point they are bound to realise what they are doing wrong” (wait and hope), the chances are that you’re on one of those bottom rungs of the ladder.

So when Vincent said: “My dad will kill me if I don’t do it”, he was acknowledging reality and in doing so, he moved up the ladder. He realised that actually, if he was the only child in that room that hadn’t done the project, the teacher was going to hold him to account. He then moved into owning it.

In fact, he was like the cat who got the cream when he turned round and said:
“Do you know what? I bet in three days I could make it look as if I’ve worked on it all holiday”.

He had started to find a solution and make a plan, “I could use google maps”, “can I borrow your camera, Uncle Guy? You could drive me around and I could take some photos around the local area”. And then he moved into making it happen.

The Accountability Ladder doesn’t necessarily mean you get the output that you want, or that you’re able to solve things. What it does mean is that irrespective of whether or not things turn out in your favour, you can hand on heart, look anyone in the eye and say “I was accountable for my decision”.

If you think of a relationship with any one person where it’s not as good as it should be and you want to change it, then you need to own it, become the solution and make it happen. At Blue Sky we talk about Conscious Choice, which is about making the decision to actually act from the top of the ladder.

Where do you sit?

Guy Bloom - Blue Sky Performance Improvement  Guy@bluesky

  http://www.blue-sky.co.uk

“If I Had More Time I Would Write a Shorter Letter”

August 7, 2013

Simplicity & Sophistication.

There’s much debate over who this quote is actually attributed to. On this occasion, let’s credit Mark Twain. More here. No matter, it’s a theme that fascinates me. (It’s also a rich vein for irony as any expansion on the topic surely invites ridicule. Note to self: Use the KISS principle in blogs.)

Recently joining Blue Sky I am learning all the time about us: as people and The Blue Sky Way. Then there are our many wonderful clients and projects. Have you seen our case studies?! It’s really rather exciting! And yet really rather overwhelming when you’re new. My poor, overloaded Welsh brain is imploring folk to provide summaries, headlines, priorities and snapshots because it can’t make sense of it all.

This is where the fun starts.

You see, when you are so very deeply connected with a job/project/idea, to pull back and give someone a simple oversight is surprisingly challenging. It’s all too easy to brain dump and give all the detail in briefing a colleague. How so? This is human nature on several fronts: our professionalism, our intelligence, our thoroughness, our knowledge, our expertise all jostle for position.

Yet such detail is not always helpful to the new guy/gal. Not at first. So how do you do this in a manner that gets the newbie up to speed with maximum efficiency? Time to efficiency is a concept all of us have some interest in at work. (Although when you Google it I was rather surprised to see searches around Viagra as a top hit!) How long before you’re going to be truly effective?

Not that one can exist on a diet solely of sketches, helicopter views and big pictures you understand. Yet to prioritise, one must get a handle on the themes at play and then seek out the detail. It came to me in a flash: I need people to pitch to me so that I can buy what they are talking about.

At times like these I turn to Dan Pink. In his corking read “To Sell is Human” he postulates that we need to practice six pitches to get on.  Here’s the first one:

http://vimeo.com/66508882

On a note closer to home, I’ve had success with asking “how would you explain this to my maiden aunt?” Then I get a non-technical, jargon free, plain English overview for what’s going on. It works wonders. Why? Because then I’m curious: then I want to know what’s going on behind the scenes.

Da Vinci said it before, I’ll say I again:

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Ian-Beer - Blue sky Performance Improvementhttp://www.blue-sky.co.uk

Quiet Please!

March 5, 2013

When a colleague recommended Susan Cain’s ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ I was intrigued. The introvert/extrovert spectrum is a topic I have long been interested in and I had no idea that such a book exploring this existed.

Built on the premise that Western culture has increasingly adopted an ‘extrovert ideal,’ and that culturally, we need a much better balance between extroversion and introversion, both in the workplace and in the classroom, Cain proclaims that in this day and age, the bolder, louder extrovert is valued over and above the more reserved, quieter introvert. In a world where introverts are increasingly pushed aside, she shines a spotlight on them, not to criticise extroverts, but to celebrate their opposite, arguing that they, too, have an important role to play in today’s society. A greater willingness to listen to others, heightened sensitivity, risk aversion and potentially a heightened moral sense are just some of the traits she believes are linked to introversion that can prove invaluable in the workplace, and adds weight to the idea that success is not just the domain of the extrovert!

It may surprise you to know that between one third to a half of the population are introverts, and by introvert, we are not talking about shyness (which is a fear of social judgment), but actually about the way one responds to levels of stimulation, including stimulation of social situations. By design, extroverts crave large amounts of stimulation, for example loud parties, group chat, thinking aloud, while introverts feel at their most comfortable when experiencing lower levels of stimulation i.e. spending time in their own company, enjoying quieter environments or reading a book.

Needless to say, the book now has pride of place on my bookshelf as not only was it factual, rigorously researched and engaging, but it has left me feeling empowered, with a real boost to my self-esteem. Drawing upon many years of extensive psychological and neurobiological research, this book has shed some real insight into how aspects of my personality, such as not enjoying school, avoiding small talk, feeling uncomfortable in large group situations and thoroughly enjoying quiet evenings by myself or with one or two close friends, are actually all related to my introversion.

Not only do I recommend it to any introvert, partner or parent of an introvert, but to extroverts looking to understand a large proportion of the population a little better… If you are considering it, but still not convinced, follow this link to watch Susan passionately bringing it to life.

Kat@Bluesky

Katherine Marsh - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Show Trust to Build Trust

November 21, 2012

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Ernest Hemingway.

What does it take for you to trust me? You probably have to be able to rely on me, and to know that I will do what I say I will do. Building trust requires telling the truth and being transparent. What is the benefit of trust? When we have trust in the relationship we can work together effectively and combine both of our resources to create something bigger than we could do by ourselves. So what happens when there is no trust in a relationship? You could say that without it, little or no relationship is possible. It’s almost impossible to work effectively together without mutual respect. Much time and energy is wasted in second guessing, and speculating on the other person’s motives and intentions.

Building trust is a process that begins when one party is willing to risk being the first to ante up, being the first to show vulnerability, and being the first to let go of control. If you are a leader, the first to trust has to be you. If you, as a leader, show a willingness to trust others, your team members will be more likely to trust you. To build trust in your organisation:

  • Share information about you, who you are and what you believe in
  • Admit mistakes, none of us are perfect and people will forgive you if they see you trying to aspire to the high standards you set. We are only human and showing you are fallible will show your human face
  • Acknowledge the need for personal development
  • Seek feedback, and treat it as a gift
  • Take feedback to the source, avoid ‘corridor conversations’
  • Listen carefully to what others have to say and sometimes not saying
  • Invite interested parties to important meetings
  • Share information that is useful
  • Celebrate other people’s successes, make sure the team or individuals get the recognition for their work…don’t take credit for other people’s good work or when things go wrong, don’t let them take the fall
  • Encourage people to contribute
  • Show you are willing to change your mind when others have a good idea
  • Avoid talking negatively about others
  • Say ”we trust them” and mean it

Trustworthiness is in the eye of the beholder. To build trust your team must see that you have their best interests at heart. It means that you don’t want to see them get hurt, be embarrassed, feel harassed or suffer. You want them to be happy, fulfil their potential and succeed. This may seem like a risk….but it is one worth taking.

Some handy tips:

  • Be authentic. If there is something you are not saying and covering up, there is a good chance the other person will know you are doing that – it will leak out in your body language and tone of voice. They might not be able to put their finger on it or explain exactly why they don’t believe you are being truthful, but they will have an instinctive, intuitive feeling that they cannot trust you.
  • Don’t gossip or speculate on someone else’s motivations and intentions.  Don’t have the conversation with someone else, have the conversation with the person…take it back to the source. Show openness and consistency in your behaviour, and demonstrate a strong moral ethic.
  • If trust has been broken it can be recovered. You need to apologise for your side of where the trust got lost, be open and honest and sincerely regretful for the part you played in the relationship break down. Then explain that you are committed to this not happening again and what you will personally do in the future to avoid the situation happening again.
  • Write down a list of all your key relationships at work. Rate on a scale of 1-10 what the level of trust is like. This will help you identify which relationships you could work on.
  • Spend some time with people you might not as readily trust. Get to know them a little. Disclose some information about yourself, open up a little. This is a good way to show someone that you trust them.

To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.George MacDonald.

Sean@Bluesky

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Could 50 Shades of Grey help your learning stick?

July 31, 2012

It was the conversation over a coffee with friends that made me brave my local bookshop and buy the hottest book of the moment – 50 Shades of Grey.

Even my husband when he saw it in the bedroom (I’d hidden it under a copy of Infinite Jest, another novel I’m trying to get through) cried out “not you as well?!” Yes, it seems that everyone on his commuter train and beyond are mesmerized.

So it made me think ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could design and launch a learning programme that would have the same impact as 50 Shades of Grey?’ A programme that employees would clamour to sign up to and evangelize with their colleagues about the content and learning.

Perform - Handcuffs - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

I am not advocating that learning interventions should involve porn, bondage or domination, just the sentiment that we need to keep designing creative and exciting content to capture employee’s imagination to make learning stick.

And so the Blue Sky 50 Shades of Learning was born by asking our staff to email their lighthearted take on the book and the world of learning. Here are our top 10 for you to enjoy and we want to find the 40 best others from out there in the learning community to make up the 50. If you’d like to send in your contribution, please email hello@blue-sky.co.uk and the top three winners will receive a bottle of Jo Malone perfume or cologne (no handcuffs or gimmicks are involved in this offer!)

The Blue Sky Top 10 Shades of Learning

“Make me cry like I’ve never cried before!” he screamed. “Alright” I said and made him read the entire works of Tom Peters.

“I am your master and you will perform everything I say” …it was then I knew it was time to leave the CIPD.

“I’m curious” he whispered. Never had she felt so deeply probed. She felt exposed from all angles; naked, yet strangely liberated and safe. “So” she said silently to herself, “this is how 360 degree feedback works.”

Wearing my seductive skimpy schoolgirl outfit, I gazed around the room. How was I to know that that was not what they meant by classroom learning?

Once I knew his seven habits…I was disgusted.

He felt his net promoter score rise as she whispered down the phone “thank you, that’s the best customer service I’ve ever experienced”.

My heartbeat raced as I heard him suggest his embedded learning methodology would be different to anything I’d ever experienced before…

He brought a new meaning to the phrase “yes, we can plug the leak in your sales pipeline…”

His PowerPoint presentation was the longest I had ever seen. Slide after slide after slide after slide of animated ecstasy. I died a thousand deaths before I fell into a deep untroubled sleep.

She lay back, disappointed. It was all over so quickly. “Oh” she said, “that’s what you meant by accelerated learning!”

Briege@Bluesky

Briege Kearney - Director - Client Development - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Making Training Stick

April 2, 2012

Lots of organisations now spend thousands or even millions of pounds on training programmes every year. But how many of them actually stick, how many make lasting performance differences or behavioural change? Whilst you reflect on that question, let me share with you one reason why many training programmes are not as successful as they could be. That is they are not followed up immediately after the training, they are not consolidated.

If you have ever been on a training course or seminar before, I am certain you will know what I am talking about. You turn up at the venue and the course may even extend to 2 or 3 days. During that time you are mixing and mingling with either colleagues in the same large corporate company or a mixture of people from different companies and backgrounds. There is usually a buzz about the place as the course progresses and in some instances it can be quite entertaining.

What happens next? Still slightly high on the euphoria of all the new tools and techniques you have picked up, you go out with a renewed kind of vigour, desperate to try them out. Then after a few days, at best, maybe a few weeks the lift has almost gone completely and you find yourself slipping back into that fabulous recognisable comfort zone. Is this starting to sound familiar?

Sustain - Blah Blah Blah - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

So what is it that happens and why, in most cases, does the training not deliver the return on investment that you would expect? A huge part of this challenge is down to something called the Ebbinghaus Effect. Please allow me to explain.

Hermann Ebbinghaus carried out the first experimental investigations of memory in Germany from 1879 to 1895. He discovered that our ability to recall information shows a rapid decrease over a very short space of time. After just a few hours, more than 60% of information is lost. A frightening thought! The decline in recall then eases slightly but, even so, within a month, more than 80% can no longer be recalled. His now famous results are known as the Ebbinghaus Curve of Forgetting. So you see, it’s not necessarily the training itself, it’s just the natural human trait of forgetting.

A cause for concern maybe? Let’s look at the possible implications. On a course spanning 3 days, more than 50% of the information given on days 1 and 2 will be lost before the training has ended. A further 50% of day 3 could be lost on the drive or flight home. Now start adding those lost days and attach a monetary value to them.

Ebbinghaus Curve of Forgetting Diagram - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Imagine in the world of sports, would a Premier league manager give a team talk about strategy in the boot room and then not practice that in a game situation? Would a tennis coach tell you how to improve your forehand in training and then wait until a competition to check whether you have understood it? Training is just the beginning, to truly master a skill in particular takes lots of practice, and some say 10000 hours to master any skill. Lots of training does involve role play and real play activities, which are great for practicing. But real plays are not the real world, it is a bit like swinging a tennis racket in training without the ball or court to practice your forehand, but until you practice that forehand in a real situation with another player and then practice it when it really counts in a competition you cannot test whether you have made improvement and changed your swing. It is the same with delegates, you can start the practice of skill or knowledge transfer in the training room, but you must follow it up with practice in the real world with the ball (customer) and the court (the work environment). We call this practice consolidation. So what do we mean by this?

This is about taking the opportunity to practice and receive further feedback and coaching. The purpose of consolidation is to practice what you have learnt and seek additional feedback and coaching, to refine your skills and address any issues that may prevent you from transferring what you have learnt. To make sure you have the time to practice, polish and improve your skills.

Let’s think about the steps to learning, how do you move people to conscious or unconscious competence? Is this achieved in training? I would argue at best you move people to conscious competence. To really master the skill or apply the new knowledge effectively will take hours of practice. Unless the quality of this practice is monitored and supported, lasting change will not happen, people will slip back into their comfort zones, back into old bad habits and back to unconscious incompetence in some cases. This is where consolidation comes into play.

Top tips

Here are just a few things you could do:

  • Get your line managers to attend the training, so they fully understand the skills or knowledge that needs to be embedded
  • Create a Training Sustainability / Stick ability Plan –  Build in time to work with all stakeholders to achieve this, focus on what will make the training stick and consider what road blocks might make it fail
  • Communicate to the rest of the business what training is taking place
  • Build consolidation, resource and time, into your training budget
  • Ramp up your coaching activity for 6 weeks post training
  • Introduce ‘coach the coach’ activity, there is no point ramping up coaching if the quality of the coaching is not there
  • Start to consolidate your training, this means trainers and leaders spending time immediately after training coaching delegates in the live environment to help support them to embed the learning
  • Align your quality process with what is being trained
  • Plan ahead, ensure that there is significant time set aside following training for line managers to consolidate training
  • Provide trainers with coaching skills necessary to embed the learning back in the real world
  • Train your trainers on how to feedback in the real work environment
  • Conduct post course de briefs at regular intervals, to see how delegates present back what they have learnt, how they have applied their learning, what the impact has been and what the next steps are
  • Review action plans, where delegates committed to learning actions in training
  • Conduct post course surveys, following Kirk Patrick’s learning evaluation model
  • Conduct a TNA two months after training to benchmark skill / knowledge transfer and application compared to pre training TNA
  • Measure the quality of your consolidation activities through surveys
  • Measure ROI, link success to training
  • Celebrate success, recognise people for performance improvement and most importantly, behavioural change
  • Catch people doing things right, fill people’s emotional bank accounts and build their confidence
  • Introduce behavioural coaching, to help people address limiting beliefs and breaking old habits
  • Nudge your team post training, provide them little nudges that support key messages in training
  • Conduct skills drills, use team meetings to focus on specific skill areas
  • Test retention of knowledge 4 weeks after training, not just at the end of training
  • Build in refresher training post course, make this modular and focused on areas where delegates are struggling or need advanced skills to take them to the next level

There are many more things you could do, contact me if you want further thoughts or ideas. The key thing is to remember that learning is a continuous cycle, unless businesses stop thinking of training as isolated interventions….. training will not stick. So next time you roll out a training programme ask your self:

“Will the investment I am making be worthwhile or will the Ebbinghaus Effect take its toll?”

Sean@Bluesky

Sean Spugin - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Receiving Feedback

March 13, 2012

Often the forgotten part of the feedback process, but for me the most fundamental part of creating a feedback culture is to help people understand the principles of receiving feedback. Some people experience feedback as criticism and do not want to hear it.  Others see it as crushing or a confirmation of their worthlessness.  Others only want to hear positives and nothing that might suggest imperfections. Other people view it very differently – accept feedback however, even if it is sometimes disturbing believing they can grow from it. It comes down to whether you believe feedback will harm you or benefit you.

Think of a time you responded well to feedback.

What did you do? 

Think of a time you responded badly to feedback.

What did you do? 

One of the problems for some people with regard to receiving feedback is that they only know how to behave as a ‘feedback victim’ rather than take responsibility for receiving feedback as well as delivering it. We do not always have to accept feedback, or the manner which it is delivered.  We all have the right to disregard feedback and we can expect feedback to be given in a respectful, supportive manner… but even delivered badly, we may be able to learn. Best practice for receiving feedback – what do we want to do?

Positive / Open Style

  • Open – listen without frequent interruptions of objections
  • Responsive – willing to hear what is being said without trying to turn the tables
  • Accepting – accepts other persons point of view without denial
  • Respectful – recognises the value of what is being said and the speakers right to say it
  • Engaged – interacts appropriately with speaker. Asks for clarification
  • Active listening – tries to understand the meaning of the feedback
  • Thoughtful
  • Interested
  • Sincere – wants to make personal changes if appropriate

Negative / Closed Style

  • Defensive – defends personal actions, frequently objects
  • Attacking – verbally attacks the feedback giver, turns tables
  • Denies – refutes the accuracy or fairness of the feedback
  • Disrespectful – devalues speaker and what speaker is saying
  • Closed – ignores feedback, blanks it out
  • Inactive listening – no attempt to understand
  • Rationalising – finds explanation for the feedback that dissolves any personal responsibility
  • Superficial – listens, appears to agree, with no intention of doing anything about it

This is not to say you cannot challenge the feedback if you disagree with it.  It may be appropriate to go away and think about the feedback in a pro-active, responsible way first though. It can be OK, valid and right to not do anything about the feedback or to decide you want to challenge the feedback. You may have other feedback or examples to show this feedback is invalid or not the case. This is not to be used as an excuse for never taking on board feedback. If you receive the same feedback several times from different people (and you are interested in self development!) you need to explore it. Also, there is no need to argue with feedback – it may not be factual, it may be someone’s personal opinion.  Always repeat back the feedback to check you have fully understood and be curious.

Sean@Bluesky

Sean Spugin - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Giving Feedback

March 6, 2012

“It is easy to be angry.  But to be angry, with the right person, to the right degree at the right time for the right purpose in the right way, this is not easy.”   Aristotle

We could easily swap the word ‘angry’ for ‘feedback’.  Lots of organisations want and claim to have a feedback culture.  We talk about giving it, receiving it, who likes it, who hates it, who does it a lot, who never does it, what a feedback culture looks like. It is easy to talk about it. The trouble is, an organisation can’t just do it and individuals can’t just do it. We need to plan it together, think carefully about it, learn it, unlearn some old habits, practice it, make mistakes, have models to help us and know we are always learning. Feedback (both positive and negative) is an indispensable part of our lives. If we can understand and use it, this feedback can empower us to communicate more openly and improve. Why then do so many of us resist taking full advantage of what can be such an enormous benefit?

One of the reasons why we tend to resist feedback is that a good part of our self image is based on how other people view us. When we find out that someone sees us in a less than positive light we may feel devastated. The world over, people tend to like to hear what is consistent with their own views and to resist ideas contrary to their belief structures. But if we knew we were doing something ineffectively, wouldn’t we automatically try to improve the deficiency? Negative feedback implies that we could be wrong. What could be more personal and threatening? It takes an open mind to be able to listen to an opposing view. That is why we are going to look at models and best practice for receiving feedback as well as giving feedback.

Think of a time when you gave feedback to someone and it was successful as far as you were aware. What did YOU do that made it go well? Now, think of a time when you gave some feedback that was not successful? What did YOU do that prevented it from going well? Chances are you did that quite easily.  It is likely that you can list what makes feedback good and what doesn’t work in theory. Can you think of a time when you wanted to give someone some feedback but you didn’t do it? There are so many barriers we can put up ourselves to stop us from giving feedback to others, even if we know in theory how to do it.

These include:

“If I wait long enough the situation will resolve itself so I do not have to get involved”

“Since I do not like to receive feedback I can’t imagine anyone else would so I will keep quiet”

“I give feedback indirectly by using sarcasm and jokes”

“There just never seems to be the right time to give feedback and I keep putting it off”

“It takes too much time to provide feedback effectively, I’d rather pick up the slack than take the time to do it”

“I’m unsure of how the other person is going to respond to my feedback so I avoid giving it”

“I’m not perfect so who am I to judge anyone else’s behaviour”

“If I give my boss any negative feedback it may be used against me in my next 1:1”

“I’ve let the situation go on for too long now and I am so angry I will probably blow up and mishandle the situation”

Once you are familiar with best practice for giving feedback and have practiced using the phrases and models, but find you are still resisting giving feedback, check you are not hiding behind one of these barriers. Remember your comfort zone is guarded by fear, upset, pride, apathy and anger and these guards try to stop you going into stretch.  Thank them for letting you know you are in stretch, then turn them off and get into stretch anyway…..it is where you learn the most and we will not achieve a feedback culture if everybody stays in their comfort zone!

Guidelines

Effective / Positive delivery

  • Supportive – Delivered in a non threatening encouraging manner
  • Direct – Focus of feedback clearly stated
  • Sensitive – Delivered with sensitivity to needs of other person
  • Considerate – Not intended to insult or demean
  • Descriptive – Focused on behaviour that can be changed, rather than personality
  • Specific – Feedback focused on specific event or behaviour
  • Healthy timing – Given as close to the prompting event as possible at an opportune time
  • Thoughtful – well considered rather than impulsive
  • Helpful – Feedback is intended to be of value to the other person
  • Speak for yourself – not others
  • Consider language – if you say never do you mean never or sometimes?
  • Secure the other person’s permission to give the feedback

Ineffective / Negative delivery

  • Attacking – Hard hitting and aggressive, focuses on the weakness of the other person
  • Indirect – Feedback is vague and issues hinted at rather than addressed directly
  • Insensitive – Little concern for the needs of the other person
  • Disrespectful – Feedback is demeaning, bordering on insulting
  • Judgemental – Feedback is evaluative, judging personality rather than behaviour
  • General – aimed at broad issues not easily defined
  • Poor timing – Given long after the event or at the worst possible time
  • Impulsive – Given thoughtlessly with little regard for consequences
  • Selfish – Meets givers needs rather than needs of other person

Well that is all well and good, but what should you actually say?

Giving the feedback

Step one – Check out why you are providing the feedback?

Step two – Research the facts and plan your feedback

Step three – Be immediate

Step four – Be specific

Step one: Check out why you are giving the feedback

Reasons to give feedback:

  • To continually improve team performance
  • To correct an individuals poor performance
  • To motivate
  • To learn from past mistakes

Reasons not to give feedback:

  • To make yourself feel superior and / or right

Step two: Research the facts and plan your feedback

Be sure you have accurate information about what the person did and why. You will need to listen to others and focus on their intent rather than their style (although sometimes it is appropriate to give feedback about style too). Seek more understanding through clarification and ask questions to check you have not misunderstood the situation or the facts. If appropriate, make sure you and others know and understand what is expected of them and what the standards are. Remember that any positives should be given as feedback as well. Negative feedback will be better received if your ‘emotional bank account’ with that person is in credit. A useful quote to bear in mind from Dr James Dobson’s book ‘What wives wish their husbands knew’:

“The right to criticise must be earned, even if the advice is constructive in nature. Before you are entitled to tinker with another person’s self esteem, you are obligated first to demonstrate your respect for him / her as a person. When a relationship of confidence has been carefully constructed, you will have earned the right to discuss a potentially threatening topic. Your motives will therefore have been clarified.”

Excellent advice… not only for personal relationships, but for professional ones too. You have not gained the right to give feedback to someone merely because you have a certain title or position.  You must earn the right through your relationship with them. When planning your feedback it is important to avoid the feedback sandwich – actually advocated by some people. The feedback sandwich sandwiches negative feedback between two positive pieces of feedback. Did the receiver actually get the developmental feedback? Will they walk away thinking about it? If you use this style the next time you give positive feedback to someone they will automatically assume you will follow it with critical feedback. Unfortunately, the sandwich approach negates any positive reinforcement you try to provide.

Step three:  Be immediate

Once you have checked out your intentions for giving the feedback, checked your facts and planned how to say it, you are ready to give positive or negative feedback. If someone has done a good job, praise that person for it.  Positive feedback should be given as close to the event as possible to have the greatest impact. However, for negative feedback you need to consider your timing. You can do it immediately following the behaviour, as constructive feedback or you can do it just prior to the next opportunity to improve or grow, as advice. Be short and specific. Select a good time, but do not save up your comments until you have lots to reel off. When giving feedback you should not be asking for a complete change of lots of behaviours. It is far more effective to address one thing at a time. It is important to be sensitive to personal timing when you give constructive feedback. If the situation already involved stress for the person you may correctly decide to wait until the other person is in a better frame of mind to listen and do something about your feedback. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself when you would prefer to receive the feedback. Giving effective feedback requires compassion, insight and tact.

However, beware against putting the feedback off. If you wait and wait, hoping that someone will change on their own you will probably be disappointed. Storing it up is more likely to make you frustrated and lash out, rather than planning your feedback appropriately and just because something has been on our minds for ages does not mean you can expect overnight change. Be mindful of ‘mind readers syndrome’.

Step four:  Be Specific

Using ‘I’ messages is one of the best techniques for giving feedback. Normally people have a tendency to use ‘you – blaming’ statements such as “you never promote on calls”  or “why are you always late to our meetings?”.  In contrast to ‘you – blaming’ statements we need to take responsibility to express our own feelings and let the person know the effect of his / her behaviour on us. Make sure the feedback is specific and observed, avoid feeding back on second hand information. Use verbatim quotes or specific observed behaviour, come from a place of curiosity when exploring the point you are feeding back, ask genuine questions and listen to understand.

This concludes the first part of my feedback blog, second part coming soon, so watch this space or follow us to stay up-to-date.

Sean@Bluesky

Sean Spugin - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement