Medium 9781782413004

Not Just Talk

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Not just talk - Real feedback is a 'how to' book on the mechanics of giving sometimes tough news on someone's performance in a way that features the feelings that should accompany feedback. It answers all the questions someone might have on the topic from why should I give feedback?, how much?, when? and how? The book also gives supporting thoughts for a strongly empathic approach on handling the various responses that feedback tends to generate: annoyance, denial, guilt and so on.The book will appeal to seasoned managers who may typically be comfortable giving feedback but might not have always stuck around to handle the emotional consequences as well as to those who are just taking on their first team and are looking to find and develop their voice as a leader.

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“FEEDBACK” - HERE COMES BAD NEWS

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“FEEDBACK” - HERE COMES BAD NEWS

THE DECISION

When I hear the word feedback I always think something negative is about to be said. You and I both know that the sentence “I’m going to give her some feedback…” is not the announcement of a happy conversation. And yet, why not?

So when my client said that he thought that I was a ‘feedback kind of guy’, I guess he was right in so much as I do it a lot. But what he maybe didn’t understand when he said it was that it is something that I do consciously. It is not effortless.

Think of the last time you got some feedback from your boss or a col-

I think about the words carefully every time - especially in trying

Think of the last time you got some feedback about something positive.

Struggling to remember? You wouldn’t be alone.

feeling that I am having about that thing and why I might be having it. This all takes just a few seconds now - it used to take a lot longer.

It’s the many practices that I have had at this game that makes it look effortless.

 

THE DECISION

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“FEEDBACK” - HERE COMES BAD NEWS

THE DECISION

When I hear the word feedback I always think something negative is about to be said. You and I both know that the sentence “I’m going to give her some feedback…” is not the announcement of a happy conversation. And yet, why not?

So when my client said that he thought that I was a ‘feedback kind of guy’, I guess he was right in so much as I do it a lot. But what he maybe didn’t understand when he said it was that it is something that I do consciously. It is not effortless.

Think of the last time you got some feedback from your boss or a col-

I think about the words carefully every time - especially in trying

Think of the last time you got some feedback about something positive.

Struggling to remember? You wouldn’t be alone.

feeling that I am having about that thing and why I might be having it. This all takes just a few seconds now - it used to take a lot longer.

It’s the many practices that I have had at this game that makes it look effortless.

 

WHAT IS FEEDBACK AND WHAT IS IT FOR?

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THE DECISION

WHAT IS FEEDBACK AND WHAT IS IT FOR?

One last thought on this. Sometimes a piece of feedback goes no further than the decision itself. I have the words but lack the courage or I think ‘it’s not worth it’. So there are times when I stay quiet. Sometimes it’s just as challenging to say nothing and to accept as it is to summon the courage and the words to speak up. I mention this because it’s important to realise that the decision to speak up is not based upon an imperative to make a noise every time just because we know how to.

The decision is the basis for the possibility when we think it could do some good, to put something right.

Feedback is about giving someone the opportunity to do something with their behaviour.

There are three reasons to give feedback:

1. to encourage someone to continue a behaviour

2. to prompt someone to change a behaviour

3. to get someone to stop a behaviour

Depending on which of those things I am trying to achieve with you deliver my message to you…

 

HOW TO DO IT

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EXPERIMENT: GET FEEDBACK

HOW TO DO IT

“I’m reading a book about feedback and want to get

Find out where you are with feedback right now: where you have gaps and what you need to change to get better at it.

your opinion on something. Do you remember that time

To do this approach 2-3 people – ideally at least one of whom you might have in the past offended with feedback and perhaps another who didn’t seem to take you seriously. Ask them how they felt when you gave them feedback and what you did that made them react as they did.

I gave you feedback and you weren’t too keen?

or said that…

…made my feedback go wrong for you?” or

…made my feedback not work?”

9

 

WHY SHOULD I BOTHER GIVING FEEDBACK?

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WHY SHOULD I BOTHER GIVING FEEDBACK?

EXPERIMENT: SAY SOMETHING

The people around us don’t always behave how we want them to so at some point we need to decide whether we are going to do anything about it. It often seems to be easier to just let things go. But sometimes we can’t ily. We each have a limit to what we can personally tolerate and of course there are limits to what we should tolerate if we are in charge of people in an organisation.

Write down the names of 3 colleagues on a piece of paper and beside each name write down one thing that each person has done to help you thank them. It doesn’t matter what words you use at this stage – just do it. Worst case scenario – leave a voicemail.

Note… By the way, only ever leave a feedback voicemail if it is one that involves just praise.

But in business, it’s not just about standing up for yourself, feedback serves other vital purposes. It is the main tool for managing performance

– getting people to behave in a way that works for them, their colleagues, the boss and the organisation as a whole. The problem is that the people in charge of many organisations think there is something more complicated to performance improvement and so don’t try terribly hard to get their managers to do feedback well. Instead they sometimes pay for massive culture change projects in ‘customer care’ or ‘total quality’.

 

EXPERIMENT: SAY SOMETHING

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WHY SHOULD I BOTHER GIVING FEEDBACK?

EXPERIMENT: SAY SOMETHING

The people around us don’t always behave how we want them to so at some point we need to decide whether we are going to do anything about it. It often seems to be easier to just let things go. But sometimes we can’t ily. We each have a limit to what we can personally tolerate and of course there are limits to what we should tolerate if we are in charge of people in an organisation.

Write down the names of 3 colleagues on a piece of paper and beside each name write down one thing that each person has done to help you thank them. It doesn’t matter what words you use at this stage – just do it. Worst case scenario – leave a voicemail.

Note… By the way, only ever leave a feedback voicemail if it is one that involves just praise.

But in business, it’s not just about standing up for yourself, feedback serves other vital purposes. It is the main tool for managing performance

– getting people to behave in a way that works for them, their colleagues, the boss and the organisation as a whole. The problem is that the people in charge of many organisations think there is something more complicated to performance improvement and so don’t try terribly hard to get their managers to do feedback well. Instead they sometimes pay for massive culture change projects in ‘customer care’ or ‘total quality’.

 

DISASTROUS FEEDBACK

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DISASTROUS FEEDBACK from.

some of these characteristics…

11

DISASTROUS FEEDBACK

You know last month when you did…

Well done on the project…

(It was given too long after the event)

(It was too general)

It’s important that you don’t…

Could I ask you to not?…

(It sounded like badly disguised irritation)

You shouldn’t really…

Why did you do that the same?...

(It was judgemental)

(It started with a negative question)

Instead of… why don’t you…

What a mess, I’m going to have to do

(It was indirect – disguised as advice)

it again!

12

 

THE CIRCUIT: MAKE OR BREAK

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THE CIRCUIT: MAKE OR BREAK

We are not machines but we do share a few characteristics with them.

One is that we can become overloaded not only by what comes in from outside our heads (noises, sights, smells, sensations etc.) but also by our own stuff – especially feelings. Put simply, when we feel too much our ability to function becomes very much impaired. We become much less able to think straight and to communicate well.

This temporary circuit ‘outage’ happens quickly. It is sometimes called neurotransmitters produced by our brains. Our brain literally becomes tities, allow us to both think and feel at the same time. But the more of it becomes to think straight. At some point (different for each of us) our circuit trips.

Effective feedback makes people feel bad enough to want to change but not so bad that they can’t function. Bad quality feedback trips other people’s circuits quickly with the result that good outcomes are rare.

13

 

EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK: FEW WORDS

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SO WHAT GOES INTO EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK?

EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK : FEW WORDS

Here are 5 characteristics of effective feedback:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

When you are giving feedback your top objective is to get your message across – the other person must understand it and take it in. If they do that then there is a chance that they will be motivated to act on what you say. When we use lots of words, two things happen.

Just a few words

It’s about your feelings

It’s not about them – it’s about their behaviour

There’s a pause at the end

1. First, the other person has to listen for longer – this gives them less time to think – and you really do want them to think.

2. Secondly, they may get confused about what is important to you.

This might sound crazy but it’s true. We make assumptions about what is important to the other person based on a whole load of noise in our heads. To put it another way, that we don’t think we need or that we simply don’t like. So, if you are giving me some important feedback and use more words than you strictly need, can you really rely on me to decide what is important to you? Answer: No!

 

EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK: YOUR FEELINGS

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EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK : YOUR FEELINGS

EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK: IT’S SPECIFIC

Feelings are the most important signals that you and I send to ourselves, and to each other, about what we believe, like and dislike.

So it makes complete sense to mention them as soon as possible.

To help the recipient of your feedback to get the message you intend, it’s vital that you describe the behaviour that they did that worked or did not work for you. Feedback often fails because it is simply not spe-

‘feelings thing’. They don’t pay their feelings much attention – they just feel them and react. Some of us don’t know that we have the option

These probably won’t work:

1. I was surprised when you arrived late like that

2. I get embarrassed when you speak that way in front of clients

3. I’m puzzled by your leadership approach

especially at work.

Since giving feedback is so much about us knowing about our own feelings (how we feel about another person’s actions) getting to know their names is vital if we want to give feedback effectively. Giving ourselves

 

EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK: IT’S SPECIFIC

PDF

EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK : YOUR FEELINGS

EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK: IT’S SPECIFIC

Feelings are the most important signals that you and I send to ourselves, and to each other, about what we believe, like and dislike.

So it makes complete sense to mention them as soon as possible.

To help the recipient of your feedback to get the message you intend, it’s vital that you describe the behaviour that they did that worked or did not work for you. Feedback often fails because it is simply not spe-

‘feelings thing’. They don’t pay their feelings much attention – they just feel them and react. Some of us don’t know that we have the option

These probably won’t work:

1. I was surprised when you arrived late like that

2. I get embarrassed when you speak that way in front of clients

3. I’m puzzled by your leadership approach

especially at work.

Since giving feedback is so much about us knowing about our own feelings (how we feel about another person’s actions) getting to know their names is vital if we want to give feedback effectively. Giving ourselves

 

EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK: IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM – IT’S ABOUT THEIR BEHAVIOUR

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EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK :

IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM –

IT’S ABOUT THEIR BEHAVIOUR

EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK: PAUSE AT THE END

Feedback needs to be about something that someone has done or said – not about them as a person and whether you think they are good or bad,

lence can seem to go on forever as the other person takes in the news.

Staying quiet and out of the way at this point is worth the awkwardness it may cause you. Talking more at this moment will either cause the

These probably won’t work:

1. I feel uncomfortable when you get bossy with John

2. I’m really pleased to have someone in the team who is so good with clients

3. I was unhappy when you disrespected the client’s views

4. I was really pleased when you did such a good job on the advertisement

like you are taking it all back.

So, bite your tongue or do whatever you have to do to keep from spoiling their thinking time with your redundant words.

These will probably work:

 

EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK: PAUSE AT THE END

PDF

EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK :

IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM –

IT’S ABOUT THEIR BEHAVIOUR

EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK: PAUSE AT THE END

Feedback needs to be about something that someone has done or said – not about them as a person and whether you think they are good or bad,

lence can seem to go on forever as the other person takes in the news.

Staying quiet and out of the way at this point is worth the awkwardness it may cause you. Talking more at this moment will either cause the

These probably won’t work:

1. I feel uncomfortable when you get bossy with John

2. I’m really pleased to have someone in the team who is so good with clients

3. I was unhappy when you disrespected the client’s views

4. I was really pleased when you did such a good job on the advertisement

like you are taking it all back.

So, bite your tongue or do whatever you have to do to keep from spoiling their thinking time with your redundant words.

These will probably work:

 

HOW DO I DO IT?

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HOW DO I DO IT?

The answer to the million-dollar question is right here!

OK, let’s bring it all together now. If you have just skipped to this page

Feel

About

Becuase

I’m excited

about the landing page you designed

it really gives the message I wanted

I’m worried

that your report has

because it may not be read

I was really relieved

when you stood in for Eric at short notice

because it meant we didn’t have to postpone the pitch

I was irritated

when you arrived late

because I rushed to get here on time for you

I’m impressed

by the simplicity of your strategy

because it takes so much into account

I was relieved

when you didn’t pursue that sales strategy

because it covered a huge territory that we can’t service

why I am suggesting you give feedback in this way.

When someone does a piece of behaviour that you want to give feedback on you have to answer three questions about it. First, in your head and then out loud:

 

AND AFTERWARDS?

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AND AFTERWARDS?

AND AFTERWARDS?: YES

So far so good. You’ve now given some quality feedback for me to think

Most of us will carry on talking just because we are relieved that it went so well. People often continue to talk because they feel that they need to apologise for being direct or for causing offense (even when the other person shows no signs of feeling bad!). Please resist

Up until now your feedback has been a monologue. You have been giving information. At this point you will not really know how your news has been received and whether I have any intention of acting on what you have told me.

with your success!

It is now that the two-way conversation really begins. And it is how you feedback sticks in my mind and whether I decide to act upon it.

mistake they had made or about something important that they had one of 3 things:

1. Yeah, alright. You have a point there, sorry

2. That’s absolute rubbish, that’s not what was said

 

EMPATHISING TO PROBLEM-SOLVE

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EMPATHISING TO PROBLEM-SOLVE

-

The process of giving feedback frequently presents us with an opportunity to get into the person’s head like this, for a few minutes, not just to make sure that they’re OK but to help them to problem-solve.

times it’s just there because we are getting on well with them and at

Making empathy happen requires me tune into the other person’s emotional world – to see and feel things as they do – just a for a second or two. This is not about agreeing with them. This is purely to understand

Why? Well, when I have told you something about your behaviour that

I don’t like I have helped to create a little problem that you will have to work through – maybe lots of little problems! Competing thoughts and feelings that you have to sort through in your mind:

they are going through to be able to grasp how they are feeling. However, I do need to pay very close attention to the signals they are giving out, verbally and non-verbally.

 

WHAT’S STOPPING ME?

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WHAT’S STOPPING ME?

I’m not sure feelings belong at work.

Many of us have reservations about giving tough messages – some of us don’t even like to give positive ones. What’s holding you back from giving feedback? On the pages that follow, put a tick by the scenarios that apply to you…

Feelings feature in work whether we like it or not. The fact is that they help us to make decisions. You could say that feelings represent the bottom line of all the tiny detail that we subconsciously pick up about people and situations. The question is, are you prepared to acknowledge what is already there?

Why would anybody care how I feel?

Hmm, OK. On the other hand, why should anybody care what you think for that matter? People do in fact care about each other’s feelings

(sometimes more than about each other’s opinions) they just don’t talk about it.

What if they don’t like what I’ve told them?

People prefer us to tell the truth. If you had got something wrong – wouldn’t you want to know it?

 

EXPERIMENT: QUESTION YOUR LOGIC

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EXPERIMENT: QUESTION YOUR LOGIC

After you have gone through the list on the previous 2 pages, try a

So, what I am challenging you to do is to persistently question your beliefs on each of the obstacles that that you ticked on the previous two pages.

with yourself might go something like this…

Obstacle: What if I lose my temper?

The questions you will need for yourself are:

So what?

It will make things worse

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

Really?

Well, if I say nothing then I will at least contain the damage.

For how long?

I guess until it gets really bad.

Then what will happen?

I may lose my temper.

What might work better?

Say it anyway – maybe I won’t lose my temper if I do it sooner rather than later - before it gets bad and I get annoyed anyway.

28

And then what will happen?

So what?

Then what will happen?

Really?

For how long?

What might work better?

 

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