Tag Archives: Active Listening

Feedback and Recognition

The More Specific, The More Terrific

You can’t improve if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong. Makes sense, doesn’t it? In reality, many of us complain about underachieving co-workers, but don’t give them the type of feedback they need to do their jobs better.karen-small-mtg
Let me give you an example: Several years ago, I was the training director for a regional bank. Our assistant, Keri, was an efficiency wiz. Her grammar was impeccable and when she proofed a document, she not only made corrections (in red), she made stylistic suggestions (in yellow) that improved documents tremendously.
Keri handled the workload of six vice-presidents with time to spare, whereas our previous assistant had always been behind. She revamped our filing system (yes, they were paper files back then!), cross-referencing everything, without being asked.
You’re thinking, “What a joy!” right? Wrong!
Within a few months, it became clear that no one liked Keri. All six VPs were avoiding her, and she was being left out of meetings because no one wanted to deal with her.
Roger, one of the VPs, tried to give Keri feedback. He told her that she was grumpy. “You would be grumpy too,” she nearly screamed, “if you were up all night with a toddler, had to get up at 5:30am to get her to daycare, and your life was nothing more than drudgery!”
Well, that was the end of Roger giving her feedback.
We decided Keri needed a performance improvement plan, but what would we write? She was so talented and efficient. My colleague, Laurel, said she would take Keri on as her project and see how she could help.
Laurel asked what specifically Keri did that annoyed us. What made her grumpy?
We weren’t sure. We talked about it for a few minutes. Finally, Juan said, “I don’t like that she grunts when I walk in each morning.”
“I thought she only did that to me,” Gary said. “I think it’s because she’s focused on what she’s working on,” said Bea.
Laurel scheduled a meeting with Keri. She said simply, “In the morning, when each person arrives, please look up from your work and say any polite version of good morning.”
Keri turned red. “It rarely is a good morning!” she exclaimed. “I don’t want to stop what I’m doing. It’s not in my job description.”
Laurel responded calmly, “You are the first person your colleagues and our visitors see each day. It is important that we create a positive work environment. If you would like, we can modify your job description to include greeting your colleagues and visitors professionally.”
The next morning, Keri grumbled a greeting as people entered the office.
Many of us greeted her back and smiled. Each day her greeting seemed a tiny bit more sincere.
At the next staff meeting, everyone mentioned the difference. Laurel said, “Next we will work on asking Keri to keep us updated on her status on our projects.”
Within a year, Keri applied for a role as an entry-level consultant-a position that was a much better match for her considerable abilities. We were able to give her excellent recommendations and she got the job!
So what made the difference between Roger’s and Laurel’s approaches? Lauren modeled direct, supportive feedback.
How can you use direct feedback?  Is there someone in your office who is awesome?  How so?
Someone lazy?  What are the actual behaviors of laziness?
Give us a call if you are having trouble isolating the behaviors, and we can help you figure it out.  The more specific, the more terrific!
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Feedback and Recognition

The Gift of Feedback

gift

Receiving feedback can feel like a gift, or feel like a hard slap in the face, can’t it?

So I have a lovely neighbor who is full of love and light.  When she sees me, she always finds the positive to report on.

“I love to see you pounding away on the pavement.” she compliments.

“Did you see how slowly I am going?  I never make it to a fast jog like you.”  I retort

“Yes, but you are out here and every motion you make is a positive one.” she replies.

Likewise, I have another neighbor who also notices both my actions and inactions.

“You have trash all over the yard.  Looks like you left the recycling out on a windy day again.”

I am thinking, “While you were talking, you could have picked up a piece or two.”

And as much as I don’t always appreciate her comments, she is the one who alerted me that we had lost a shingle, and she is the first to let me know when our dog has taken another unaccompanied walk.

Feedback at work is the same.  Sometimes it’s just the encouragement you need, sometimes it’s something you already knew and sometimes it’s a blind spot that you aren’t excited about, but nevertheless, you needed to hear it.

Feedback at work is one lense into how others perceive you.  It can also give you some ideas to help you plan your own development and that feedback can help you reach your full potential.

Tips for effectively receiving feedback:

  • Take long, deep breathes; they are free, take as many as you can.
  • Listen carefully – paraphrase to make sure you heard the message correctly. This also demonstrates to the other person that you are sincere in wanting to hear his or her feedback.
  • Ask for examples – direct the conversation by saying, “Tell me more” or “What have I specifically done to make you feel that way?”
  • Acknowledge – you don’t have to agree or disagree with the person.  It’s appropriate to recognize the other person’s input by saying “You’ve given me something to think about.”
  • Think objectively – evaluate the feedback. Ask yourself if the feedback is valid and important.  Have you heard it from someone else? Are the person’s standards and expectations valid?
  • Think about what you are going to do with the feedback – you don’t have to act upon the feedback right away. Spend some time thinking about the feedback and then determine what action, if any, you wish to take.

In my programs I sometimes ask for examples of feedback that have really helped participants.  I would love to hear from you.

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Feedback and Recognition

Does Your Spot Award Lack Momentum?

Have you ever gotten mail or phone call telling you that you’ve won a cruise or timeshare?  Likely you have.  And likely you hung up the call or discarded the letter in the trash as ‘junk-mail’ without giving it a second thought.

Then again – if you had entered into the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes and got a call or letter saying you’ve won, you’d likely give it a bit more attention wouldn’t you?

Publishers_Clearing_House_Prize_Patrol_awards_5000_A_Wk_For_Life

…Why is this?

…This is because you know about this sweepstakes; you’ve heard about it for years and have continued to hear about how it has changed the lives of those who have won.  In this case – you knew you were in the running for this award and the contest has credibility and importance in your mind.

Remember when you create spot awards for your employees – to do the same thing – make sure the employees know about it ahead of time; make sure they understand the importance of it and feel that it has some meaning and value when someone wins!

The next time you give out a spot award – remember to make it into a big deal.  He might get red and be embarrassed but that’s okay.  He will love it and everyone needs to hear it.

Of course you won’t mention the amount, just talk about all that he has taken on (literally name some of the work you know it).  Talk about his “can do” attitude, his willingness to embrace change….etc.  Make yourself a few talking notes before presenting it so that you know what you want to highlight.

The bottom line – don’t forget the balloons, the streamers, the ‘pomp and circumstance’ of the spot award.  Build up the spot awards to be something that employees are excited about and strive to earn.  This will go a long way to improve moral – and it’s fun!

 

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