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I showed this model to our training person and she was concerned about the lack of attention to intent of the person receiving feedback. Her concern was if we don't address why the person did or said as they did then they won't be as likely to listen to the feedback.

Any thoughts?

jhack's picture

Why does it matter? And is this even knowable?

Many people actually resent probing into or speculating about intent.

The great thing about the feedback model is that it doesn't go there. It says, you did this, this is the effect, what could you do different?

If the person wants to explain their rationale, that can be informative, and if they want you to acknowledge their good intent, you can certainly do so. But your focus should be on what they do, not what they claim or you speculate that they're thinking.

John

PS: My soapbox moment: the "psychologicalization" of discourse is not a good trend, despite its growth and acceptance over the last 50 years.

bflynn's picture

The basic thinking - you can't determine intent. You can't see it, feel it, hear it, touch it or taste it. Whatever intent you attribute to an action is YOUR projection of intent. So intent can't be used to address behavior.

And it doesn't have to. By addressing the [i]outcome [/i]of the [i]actions[/i], you bypass the who problem of determining intent AND of judging it. All you have to do is identify the action, show the effect of the action and get a promise of future behavior (good or bad).

People are responsible to you for what they do, not for what they intend. Trust me - intent isn't necessary. Feedback works.

Brian

rwwh's picture

I'm not sure, but I seem to remember that one of the podcasts explains what to do about intent. Something like:
[b]
Manager:[/b] Joe, can I give you some feedback? When you do X, Y happens. What can you do differently?
[b]
Joe: [/b]I was just trying to Z.
[b]
Manager:[/b] Interesting. When you do X, Y happens. What can you do differently next time?

WillDuke's picture

Getting past intent is entirely the point of the feedback model. At least it is for me. You can sit around and ineffectively argue intent until the end of time.

Perhaps your training person is concerned that the feedback model will be viewed as judgmental. The feedback model doesn't say something is bad or good, it's just pointing out behavior and the results of those behavior. So, if they "intended" good, and it came out good, great. If they "intended" good and it came out bad, they should know so their intentions can be more effective next time. Heck, if they "intended" bad and it came out good, do I really care? I'm paying salary for effectiveness, not intention. Has anyone ever had a really well-intentioned but utterly useless employee?

It's not about intention, it's about effectiveness.

juliahhavener's picture

One thing that made it a lot easier for me to give up the 'intent' part - some time in there Mike or Mark brought up that EVERYONE has a reason for what they did - and all reasons are valid (or appeared to be at the time the decision was made or they would not have made the decision).

I found this to be a great way for me to get away from 'intent' and into 'actions'. I (like most people) have those folks who use their good intent to cover their poor decision making. I absolutely tell every one of them when they begin to explain that I KNOW they had a good reason for making that decision, and I'm asking them to consider these consequences they did NOT consider and tell me what they can do differently.

jhack's picture

I just reread your original post...

- The trainer's stated concern is that the direct won't listen to feedback.
- In the MT model, the direct agrees to listen to feedback.

Sounds like that issue is already covered.

John

My mom used to tell us kids: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." We learned not to use that as an excuse.

bjonet's picture

I wasn't clear enough in my statement. Our trainer is concerned that the person giving feedback will not discuss the intentions of the direct report. Her belief is that unless the direct can explain their intention and feels like they have been listened to then they won't really hear the feedback.

LouFlorence's picture

BJ-

Your trainer brings up a question that is central to the feedback model and much more of what you find here.

I would frame the question like this: do I have to feel that my motives have been heard and understood in order for me to accept feedback. The answer, in my experience, is a clear no.

What I [i]do[/i] need is to trust the person who is providing the feedback. That's why feedback doesn't happen in a vacuum. It should take place within the context of an established relationship.

When the relationship is solid, then the supervisor and direct can focus on behavior. And it is behaviors that produce or fail to produce results.

Regards,
Lou

TomW's picture

[quote="bjonet"]I showed this model to our training person and she was concerned about the lack of attention to intent of the person receiving feedback. Her concern was if we don't address why the person did or said as they did then they won't be as likely to listen to the feedback.

Any thoughts?[/quote]

Feedback is about future behavior. "Why" is about the past. All we care is that a person does not repeat the ineffective behavior.

Someone can mean well and still mess up. "The road to hell is paved with good intent"

rthibode's picture

bjonet,

Determining intent is very difficult to do, and I say this as a psychologist. Most people lack deep insight about the "real" reasons we do things, and trying to determine the intent just wastes time. Ultimately, why you were doing an ineffective behaviour is irrelevant, as long as you don't do it again.

Your trainer has a good point about the recipient feeling listened to and therefore being more likely to buy in. The MT feedback model takes a different approach to buy-in -- asking the recipient to determine what they can do differently. When people generate the ideas for fixing a problem, they have already bought in to some degree.

We finish up the behaviour modification by giving positive feedback that demonstrates the outcome of their changed behaviour.

magnus's picture

[quote]Our trainer is concerned that the person giving feedback will not discuss the intentions of the direct report. Her belief is that unless the direct can explain their intention and feels like they have been listened to then they won't really hear the feedback.[/quote]

[b]BLUF: By discussing intent, the behavior will be more difficult to change. Ignore, proceed and aks what can be done different next time[/b]

[b]Long version:
[/b]If you ask a direct "why did you do that" [i](to map the intent of the action)[/i], here's what happens. The direct will either give you a reason why the did it, or try to find a reason that seems rational. The effect is that they feel the action was right to take, and further, it will be harder to change the behavior.

[b]Highlighted by an example;[/b]

[b][i]Situation[/i]
[/b]A salesperson ask a prospect, that aren't completely convinced the product is right for them, "why aren't you impressed by the product?". The prospect responds "I didn't like it because of X,Y and Z!". This respons reinforces the focus on those three elements, and verifies the initial behavior. The likeliness for the sale to happen is drastically reduced because of the highlight on the products shortcomings.

In a transferred scenario, a manager asks "why did you do that?" to a(n) wrong, unwanted or ineffective behavior. When the direct responds with "because of X,Y and Z" the respons highlight and reinforces the three reasons why this behavior would be correct. The shortcomings of the product has the same effects as the rightness of the behavior. It is behavior we do not want more of. This drastically reduces the likeliness for the behavior to change.

[b][i]The action[/i][/b]
The response of the salesperson when a reason is highlighted; should be as following;
[b]Direct[/b]; "but I did it because of X"
[b]Manager[/b]; Okey. And how can you can you do that different next time?
It's the respons to any comment that justifies ineffective behavior is the same; "okey, and what can you do different next time?". You wave the reasons away. You have accepted their intents and moved on. This respons gives no field to further discuss their intent.

[b]Bottom Line[/b]
Do not discuss intent, it makes ineffective behavior harder to change. Ignore it and move to "okey, and what can you do different next time"

Good luck

peterlevy's picture

Here's an example dealing with behaviour vs intent that I discussed with my managers not long ago.

I work at a P&C Insurance company in Jamaica. In August the island had a visit from Hurricane Dean, in the aftermath of which there was no public electricity or running water. Our employees had to rise above their personal circumstances, and work long hours to provide support to our customers who had suffered damage.

Some of those employees might have done so out of a sense of commitment, duty, etc. Some might have come in early and left late because we have a generator and a water tank and air conditioning, and it was just more comfortable than being at home.

Assuming both sets of employees executed equally well, should the company reward them differently?

WillDuke's picture

[quote]I wasn't clear enough in my statement. Our trainer is concerned that the person giving feedback will not discuss the intentions of the direct report. Her belief is that unless the direct can explain their intention and feels like they have been listened to then they won't really hear the feedback.[/quote]
BLUF - Your trainer is wrong. :) They are right in that the person giving feedback won't discuss intent, they shouldn't.

Step 1 - Ask permission to give feedback. This lets the direct know that feedback is coming, and verifies that they're in a frame of mind to accept it. They can say no.
(For this discussion, skip steps 2 & 3, of course you'd never ever skip them.)
Step 4 - Ask the direct what they can do differently. This gives the opportunity (forces) the direct to think about their behavior and its consequences. They cannot possibly answer this question without hearing the feedback in steps 2 & 3. Since you're not going away until they do answer, there's no way for them to "not hear" the feedback.

As others have said, the system definitely relies on a good relationship. I don't doubt any of my directs' intentions. It is a rare person who deliberately does something with bad intent. If I thought they had bad intent, I wouldn't have them on my team.

So, if the direct brings up their intent, I give it to them. "Okay, I can see that. But what do you think you could do differently next time?" But I only ever have to have that conversation with new employees. The people I've worked with know that I trust them and their intent. :)

ccleveland's picture

This thread seems to address primarily negative feedback...what about positive feedback. Don't underestimate the power of positive feedback.

Positive behavior.... positive result...
Positive behavior.... positive result....
Positive behavior.... positive result....
Positive behavior.... positive result....

That's what will get them listening. Shoot for a ratio of 9 positive to 1 negative or better!

CC

bflynn's picture

[quote="bjonet"]I wasn't clear enough in my statement. Our trainer is concerned that the person giving feedback will not discuss the intentions of the direct report. Her belief is that unless the direct can explain their intention and feels like they have been listened to then they won't really hear the feedback.[/quote]

Consider the situation where you have the same intent, but take different actions. If one action results in lost sales and the second results in doubling sales, where does the intent play into this? The salesman's intent was to sell in both cases, but his action was either effective or not.

It also sounds to me like there's a communciations issue here. She is not hearing that the focus of feedback is to [b]encourage future behavior[/b]. Lacking that, she is still caught up with this instance and is concerned about how the direct will feel about it. I think that as soon as you put the focus on the future, the intent today is clearly not relevant.

Also - is she a high I/S? Concerned about other's feelings? Resistant to change? Give her some time. Let her think about it.

Brian

Mark's picture

I'm sorry this has taken me so long. I regret my absence.

[b]Your training manager doesn't know what she's talking about.[/b]

You're not a psychologist. She's not a psychologist. NO ONE is smart enough to be accurate TO THE SATISFACTION OF THE DIRECT about the direct's intent.

Ask this: If someone had good intent but the behavior was ineffective, would we give negative or positive feedback? If someone had negative intent but positive results, would they not get a positive review?

This is pop psychology run amok. This is why I get so frustrated by HR.

It's good to be back, even when frustrated.

Mark

Mark's picture

I want to also echo Julia's comments about intent.

EVERYONE ALWAYS intends good results. Talking about intent is just a way to have the direct defend themselves. Because the feedback model is not an attack, there is no call for defensiveness.

Mark

Mark's picture

Rthibode-

Didn't know (or had forgotten, my apologies) that you were a psychologist. Thanks for the support for the model with some professional seasoning thrown in.

Mark

Mark's picture

Peter -

Your story about the Hurricane was well said and instructive.

Thanks!

Mark

peterlevy's picture

Mark,

Thanks for that.

The upper case emphasis in your statement "NO ONE is smart enough to be accurate TO THE SATISFACTION OF THE DIRECT about the direct's intent" goes to the crux of the matter, in my opinion.

In order to address a particular DR's intent, we do not need to satisfy ourselves, or HR, or our peers, or her peers, that we are right in our interpretation of that intent. We would need to address that particular DR. And convince her that we are right, and she's wrong, about what's in HER head. Why in heaven's name would we give ourselves that Sisyphean task? Especially when what really matters is her behaviour anyway?

So intent is harder to get our hands around, harder to move if we do get our hands around it, and after all of that turns out to be the wrong lever!

rthibode's picture

Nice to see Mark back on the boards!