I am struggling with negative feedback in one particular case where I see my direct struggling because he is not using a better way which I know exists. How can I effectively suggest this better way, while leaving my direct responsible of his new behavior?

Let's say my direct is a manager and he is not doing O2s. Given that his team is not meeting performance standards, my first response would have been to use the feedback model. But I have not figured out how to apply it with a behaviour that my direct does not do?

I then moved (mentally) to coaching, thinking about some general improvement goal. But I have not figured out how to state the coaching goal specific enough to solve the teams performance issue and general enough to allow my direct to come up with his own solution.

I then thought about rolling "DOWN" the trinity. Got the idea, I'm just not sure how it fits to the rest of the system. As a manager I am not supposed to "teach" the way my direct does his job. Asking them to do O2s seems to be just that.

How do you see this ? Should I just go ahead and impose? If I do this why would I not do for everything else where I "know" there is a better way?



pucciot's picture
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In this case I would recommend Role Power and Roll Down the Trinity.

Yes, It is part of Training.  

Sure, there are some things that you can and should let your Directs figure it out, and try new methods and ways of doing things.

But, Management requires Coaching and Training.


There is a Cast for That

Rolling DOWN The Trinity


Good Luck


alex_e's picture

Hi TJ, 

thank you for your comment. I understand and I can see why this makes sense.

Where I am still cautios though: suppose now I have an team of engineers that lack sales skills. And their internal customer relationships are a less than they could be because they do not engage in the kind of behavior that is effective in creating and maintaining those relationships.

In other words it is not what they do that hurts their performance, but rather what they fail to do (listen, get verbal committments, follow-up, etc.) Should one go about it by providing feedback on very specific and tiny topics, or provide the direct with the complete picture - the way Mark and Mike do in their casts? And if it's the 2nd - does it mean coaching ? While strongly suggesting a trusted source? 


pucciot's picture
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Small Feed Back is effective only if you have already set forth the ideas and goals.

 Take it Step By Step


1- Establish the Theme of Relationships in your Organization

2- Provide FeedBack

3- Provide Coaching when the FeedBack is not enough


1 - I would recommend that you make it a repeated stated thing that relationships are important.

Say it at staff meetings.  Say it at one-on-ones make it a recurring theme in what you say often.

Once you have done that - repeated many times over a few weeks & months ...


2 - Then you can start giving Feedback ..

Positive Feedback First ---- 

"Can I give you some Feed Back ?" (yes) "When you acknowledge a co-worker's idea like that, it helps build the team --- Thanks keep it up"

After another few weeks -- pepper in negative Feed Back if needed ...

"Can I give you some Feed Back ?" (yes) "When you don't look at your co-worker when they are describing a problem for you to troubleshoot, It makes them feel like you don't care about how the issue affects them. It damages your relationship.  Going forward, Can you please do better with that ?"


3 -  

--- Then eventually, one (or more)  of them will complain to you about "this whole stupid relationship thing".

--- They will complain that you are giving them too much Negative Feedback about relationships.

That is when you can reinforce how important it is to you and the organization ---- >  and then move into Coaching.

Apparently, this employee is weak in the area of positive work relationships that they would even complain about it.

They have brought their weakness right to your door - and you can now address it with coaching.

There is a Cast for that !

Listen to the cast on Coaching Interpersonal Skills.

 Good Luck



alex_e's picture

Thank you TJ, 

It makes very good sense indeed, the missing link was your step 1.

Of course, I should start by introducing the topic in general - without targetting anyone in particular. 

From then on, and once the "theme" is established - I can go on with feedback.

I realize also that I should manage my own expectations and do not expect immediate change - it can take weeks or months just to establish the theme...

But as Mark & Mike were saying - with people fast is slow ;) Thanks again, I'll listen to the coaching podcasts, I missed those two...



mrreliable's picture

It seems to me you're confusing management with teaching.

You said, "I have a team of engineers that lack sales skills."

Sales skills, operating a collator, baserunning, coding, performing surgery, are skills that need to be taught. You wouldn't say to a surgeon, "When you use the wrong thread to stitch up those nerves, your paitent will experience a foreign body reaction and you will need to go back in to fix the problem." I'm not trying to be flippant or sarcastic, I'm just trying to illustrate that feedback is not the answer to your problem. That's why you're having trouble with the "negative feedback about what direct does not do." Negative feedback is not necessary for this step. Teaching is.

It sounds like your staff needs sales training, and perhaps you would would also benefit. Sales is not just backslapping and establishing relationships. There are systematic methods and skills involved that need to be learned and practiced, and there are good sales trainers available to teach those methods and skills. If it's not related directly to selling products or services to customers, but establishing and maintaining good business relationships, those training sessions are available too.

Feedback would be for something like, "When you don't follow up with a phone call to the customer, we miss the opportunity to identify problems and to maintain a positive relationship." That feedback is not going to help with someone who wasn't aware that followup was an essential part of the skill set.

robbyvega's picture
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To build on this, maybe start with sales training from an internal sales trainer or outside trainer, then rollout a coaching plan for supporting the sales training. You won't have to directly address the issue with your manager unless he/she continues to fail at this rollout.

You may consider meeting with each of your managers 1-on-1 to hear their concerns about the shift.

alex_e's picture

Thank you for your comment, I agree that I might mix up teaching, training and coaching within a general contexte where I identify improvement potential by using some ways I have seen working well in a different context.

My understanding was training was merely a "resource" in a coaching effort of the individual. To start this effort it has to be established that the individual needed to progress in that area. And the feedback was the way to get there. At least this is my understanding of the "feedback continuum".

I could also impose a training directly, but I thought the above process was more effective in terms of making the training part of my direct's conscious effort to improve a specific skill within a specific time frame.

Thus my question...


mrreliable's picture

One of the analogies used in the feedback podcast is driving a car. As you're going down the road, you need to make continuous tiny adjustments in steering along the way to keep your car in the driving lane. If you don't make those tiny adjustments, before long you'll end up in the ditch. Feedback is the same concept.

To follow that analogy, making the tiny adjustments (feedback) is not going to do you any good if your steering column isn't connected to the front wheels. You can crank on that wheel until the cows come home and it's not going to do you any good.

Feedback is a completely different function than training, just like performing maintenance on your car is a completely different function from driving it. Even if you're an expert mechanic and can do the maintenance yourself, you have to approach the tasks as separate functions. You're not going to be successful if you try to repair the car while you're driving it.