You’ve followed all the rules for a effective performance review with your assistant: you found a time that works for both of you; you booked a private spot; and you made sure you wouldn’t be interrupted. It all seemed to be going well until he suddenly turned defensive and withdrawn. What went wrong?
You may have misjudged his capacity for feedback.
I like to think of feedback as being something you pour. Some people have a huge beer stein-sized capacity for receiving feedback and they are appreciative the more you fill their metaphorical glass (to a degree). Others have a tiny thimble – and if you overpour, all you do is make a big mess. So how do you tell whether someone is receptive to what you’re saying? It’s all in the body language.
Keep talking if:
- they are asking questions such as, “Can you tell me more? Can you be more specific?”
- they thank you for sharing your insights
- they appear relatively calm
- they are attentive and listening
Put a cork in it if:
- they start giving excuses
- they aren’t making eye contact
- they appear agitated
- they are red in the face
- they tell you why they did what they did
The key is to not let the session turn into an argument, or even a milder form of disagreement…
You’re going to lose their respect and it won’t be a productive dialog.
Understanding a person’s ability to handle feedback is a valuable tool for productivity, retention, and the bottom line. In fact, it’s so pivotal – and so hard to get right – that we offer training on the art of giving feedback.
When have you been on the receiving end of positive feedback? How has someone enhanced your career by sharing their observations and suggestions? Feedback really can be a gift.
I would love to hear your experience.
It’s not me, it’s you….
Four years ago, I was asked to coach Tracy. Tracy was by definition morbidly obese. She was experiencing extreme distress and anxiety because her colleagues – grown adults – teased and taunted her about her weight.
When the culprits were questioned, each acknowledged the behavior occurred within the department, but they said, “It wasn’t that bad,” and “They [not we] were only joking,” and even, “We just did it once.”
Interesting! We might think bullying is an issue that goes away once we are out of elementary school. But my years as a workplace consultant tell me that this is definitely not the case. In some workplaces, it is overlooked when inappropriate jokes are told, when comments are made, and when whispering occurs.
Researchers have found that when employees are asked, “Does bullying exist in your workplace?” they answer “Yes.” But, when the same researchers ask “Do you ever bully?” the answer is “No.”
Who do you suppose is doing the bullying?
I asked Tracy’s colleagues, “What do you do to stop the bullying?” They responded that it wasn’t their job to stop it.
Not only do I disagree with their attitude, so does the law: If people are being bullied based on their gender, gender preference, ethnicity, religion, age, or as in this example weight/physique, the workplace is liable.
But not only that: The behavior isn’t nice, and it leads to a toxic work environment.
So, what do you do if you see this behavior happening?
Change the subject
Talk to the perpetrators privately:”I’m really uncomfortable when you do that. This is how your behavior affects me.”
Express your expectations: “It’s really important to me that we treat one another with repect and that we only talk about people’s ideas as they relate to work.”
If these strategies don’t work, you must, by law, report the behavior to your manager and to human resources. If your concerns are not taken seriously, you need to contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (https://www.eeoc.gov/) and ask them to research the situation.
Are you a manager who is struggling to create a positive work environment? The law – and human decency – dictate that everyone has the right to an emotionally, as well as physically, safe workplace.
We can help you create one.
Your colleague just bombed his presentation to the board. He went on way too long, and the data portion was so confusing. But when he asks how he did, you reply, “Nice job. Is that a new tie?”
Our basic survival instinct tells us to answer positively, even if there is room for improvement. But here’s the rub: What if people are doing the same to you?
I have heard of CEOs and senior-level executives who were terminated, even though they had no idea that anything was wrong…or certainly not anything big. They were baffled by their newfound unemployment, yet their colleagues had known about their problematic behavior. Likely they were very competent at the nuts and bolts of the job, but clearly the relationships and respect were not there-and that’s 80% of a senior leaders’ effectiveness.
So if people aren’t going to offer up constructive feedback, what can you do about it? First, ask yourself: Do I have the respect and relationships I need to move myself to the next level?
If you aren’t 100% certain of the answers to these questions, you might consider our Executive 360 process. Think of it like “This is Your Life” for business people.
Here’s how it works: We interview 20 to 30 people from your entire sphere of influence-from the receptionist to the director of the board, as well as employees, clients, vendors, and members. We ask them what it’s like to work with you, and we discuss your strengths and what you bring to the organization. The feedback is shared with you as a composite, not singling out any respondent, so they are incredibly honest in their remarks.
Senior leaders benefit greatly from the feedback and know what to focus on to move themselves and their businesses to the next level.
It’s win/win for everyone…
The 360 process benefits CEOs and senior leaders who want to improve their job performance, and it’s also good for subject matter experts who have personnel issues that could potentially leave the organization vulnerable to a hostile work environment.
So, if you want to get a clear picture of how you’re perceived and what you need to work on, talk to us about the Executive 360 (you’ll soon learn that we don’t have to be constrained by that survival instinct I spoke of earlier!).