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 ”Make sure you have someone in your life from whom you can get reflective feedback.”  
    ~ Warren Bennis

(Feedback should enable the receiver to walk away understanding exactly what he or she did, what impact it had on you, and what they can do differently in the future.  Feedback is information about past behavior, delivered in the present, which may influence future behavior.)

How Helpful Is Your Feedback?

Julie is confused. As the owner of a small company, she just had a meeting with one of her customers.  He gave Julie feedback on his experience working with her company.  He critiqued her performance, and left her feeling more baffled than before they talked.

She is bewildered because the feedback was vague and left Julie knowing she had done some things right and some things wrong, but not really clear on either one.  Julie said the experience helped her realize that when she gives feedback to her employees, they probably feel equally bewildered. In the interest of sparing feelings, she often communicates in vague generalities. She now knows her staff members may leave a meeting feeling more confused than enlightened.

In any relationship, whether with employees, customers, family or friends, there comes a time when you need to give feedback on an interaction or situation.  How you do it
can determine the direction of your relationship.

Giving Feedback on Performance or Behavior.

When dealing with employees, there are two areas about which you may provide feedback.  One is “what” based, and focuses on the knowledge, skills and abilities a person brings to performing their work.  The focus of this area is results.  An example of a “what” based situation is when a person’s skills aren’t up to standards and you want
to help them improve their performance.

The other area you may give feedback on is “who” based, and is about personal behaviors. “Who” based behaviors are things like attitude, dress, cleanliness, punctuality, friendliness, etc.  These kinds of issues are usually the most difficult to deal with because they often involve issues that are sensitive and have the potential to be hurtful.

Feedback involving appreciation or praise is fun to give.  If you are acknowledging or
complimenting someone, be sure to be specific and clear about the things you
appreciate (see the article on “Compliment, Endorse and Acknowledge”) and enjoy
the process.  Giving feedback to help educate someone or correct a situation can be more uncomfortable.  However, there are several things you can do that will help the person
hear you and make the experience positive for everyone.

Steps To Offering Effective Feedback

1. Set the stage and establish rapport.  Give feedback as soon as possible after the event. Pick a time and private place where you will not be interrupted.  Insure that you are factual and unemotional during the meeting.

2.  Describe the situation and outline the action observed.  Be clear and specific, and ask for their perception as well as sharing yours. Focus on behaviors that can be changed and not on personality issues. Keep it simple and to the point, and deal with only one issue at a time.

3.  Explain the impact of the person’s action. Detail the ways in which this issue affects others, yourself, and/or the success of the organization.  Do not “blame”.

4.  Give your employee the opportunity to respond. Ask for their thoughts and feelings on the issue.

5.  Ask questions for clarification.  Be sure to listen and verify what you hear. It’s always all about perception.

6.   Explore alternatives. Be specific about the behavior you’d like to see the
individual exhibit in the future. Ask for their input. Help them develop a detailed action plan and timeline by which it will be accomplished, and reinforce their commitment to the new behavior.

7.  Express support for the change. Once a behavior shift and action plan have been agreed upon and committed to, reaffirm the value of your relationship, their value to the
company, and reinforce their willingness to grow and learn.  Let him/her know you still value them as a person and team member, and look forward to continuing to work with them.

8.  Effective Feedback Delivery Requires You To Be:

    – Supportive – deliver the message in a non-threatening and encouraging manner.
- Direct – clearly state the focus of the feedback (what the situation is).
- Sensitive – deliver the message with sensitivity to the person’s needs.
 - Respectful/Considerate – respect your team members and never insult or demean them.
- Descriptive – describe the behavior that can be changed, rather than focusing on personality.
- Specific – focus on specific behaviors or events rather than speaking in vague generalities.
  - Timely – give the feedback as soon as possible after the precipitating event.
- Thoughtful – take time to organize your thoughts so you can deliver feedback in an
unemotional and well thought out manner rather than being emotional and impulsive.
- Helpful – insure that the feedback will be valuable to the other person.

Once Julie understood the importance of effectively delivering feedback, she began using this process with her team.  She is pleased to see her new approach has improved employee performance, attitude, and overall morale.

So, how do you deliver feedback in your business and personal relationships?  Are you
respectful, thoughtful, considerate and helpful? The right feedback can make all the difference.

It’s something to think about.

*FREE* BUSINESS ARTICLE

“The path to all our dreams usually takes us one step beyond our comfort zone.”                 
    ~ Anonymous 

What Do You Fear? 

Last week I was talking with James, an accountant who wants to increase the number of clients he serves.  James was talking about marketing, and the things he’s done to move
himself and his business ahead.  He then proceeded to tell me all the things he refuses to do, such as networking and public speaking, because he’s afraid of rejection and looking foolish.

Without realizing it, James had just allowed his fears to stifle his potential and stop his business and personal growth.  He was allowing his personal fears to get in the way of his professional success.

I suggested that James ask himself several questions:

  • What is something I haven’t done that will move me ahead and bring me closer to my goals?
  • What is holding me back?
  • Is this something I have been putting off out of fear?
  • How valid is this fear?
  • Is the fear realistic in my life now, or something from my past?
  • If I do this, what is the worst that can happen?
  • Can I survive the worst?
  • What is this fear costing me? What will happen if I continue to postpone action?
  • What is the best that can happen if I do this?
  • Am I prepared to deal with that?
  • What is the most important thing to accomplish today?

Once James understood that his irrational fears were interfering with his success, he used the above questions to become clear about what was going on with him.  He realized that his fears stemmed from a childhood incident, and that they had no validity in his current adult world.  This realization freed him to face his fears by joining a service organization to expand his networking ability.  He also began to volunteer as a speaker at other club meetings.  Although it was frightening at first, James was able to face his fears and do it anyway.

So, what fears may be standing in the way of your success?  What would you like to do about them?  Is it necessary for you to give in to them, or can you face them, remove them from your path and move ahead?

It’s something to think about.

 

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