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If most managers are not giving feedback, according your feedback model, then what are they doing when they say, "Yes, I give my people feedback"?

In other words, what are their wrong assumptions about giving feedback?

Mark's picture

JonP-

Question of the DAY! :D

Let's start with the simple answer. If we define feedback as the model, they're surely NOT doing that, right? Okay, good - that's settled.

And, even if we don't use the model as the standard (because that's more about process than outcome), we can use the PURPOSE of the model as outcome: [b]encouraging effective behavior.[/b]

There are two wrong assumptions most managers make about feedback.

1. That praise is feedback. Praise is general positive comments, such as, "nice work today," or, "knew I could count on you," or, "This report proves why you're my best."

All the above is great to hear...but its not effective as feedback. Many managers have argued with me here, saying, "wait, they love to hear this stuff." And I've said yes, but I'm not arguing that. Praise is praise, and it's NOT feedback. Give all the praise you want - it's GREAT! But it's not feedback.

Then they say, "but it IS encouraging!" And I've responded, yes, but only generally - it is "encouraging" but it does NOT encourage effective behavior because it's too general.

2. That vague discussions about disappointments serve as feedback. This sounds like, "you could have done that better", or, "that didn't go as well as it could have," or, "I'd like to see you do more analysis next time." Separate from the fact that this is not feedback, it's terribly frustrating. You know your boss is disappointed, you know it didn't go well, but you're not really sure what you would have done differently... what will happen the next time you're in this situation? I would argue that sometimes all I wish for is a boss who doesn't step and do it herself for the direct the second time. THAT is a step forward in many cases.

The bottom line is that managers are rarely willing to do the hard work of observing behavior, knowing what made an effort ineffective or successful, and describing the connection between behavior and results. Then, they lack the emotional maturity to speak candidly about directs' performance.

Comments? What you expected?

Mark

US101's picture

Yep, that's what I expected. Thank you.

Regarding praise, I agree I think it's great managers are at least praising. I know one VP of Finance who never praises. He told me it's just not his "style." So managers say they're encouraging people, but what are behavior are they encouraging? Good job? Nice report?

I hate the "vailed threats." I totally agree about managers not having the emotional maturity to speak candidly.

Also, they just don't have practice saying the right words. To help, I sometimes recommend the book "Perfect Phrases for Managers" [url]http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0071452168/sr=8-1/qid=1148355767/ref=sr...

ericballinger's picture

One of my directs told me this morning that I am not getting the point across in the negative feedback. She said that instead of saying "Can I give you some feedback?" I should come out and say what it is I have a beef about.

My directs do things that tee me off. Whose donesn't, but could I be trying to hard to say things in a "nice way"? Could I have become (gasp) P.C.

Once upon a time my non-Manager Tools feed back was a one step model that started with yelling.

Peter.westley's picture

ericballinger,

[quote="ericballinger"]One of my directs told me this morning that I am not getting the point across in the negative feedback. She said that instead of saying "Can I give you some feedback?" I should come out and say what it is I have a beef about.[/quote]

My guess is that she's telling you that she's a high D and she just wants you to start with "When you ABC, ..." which, for the right behavioural style can be effective. However, be careful that the reason for asking "can I give you some feedback?" is still being satisfied - that is, that they are [i][b]receptive[/b][/i] to it and you have their permission to give feedback.

Recall that Mark said not to put M-T's name against it if you choose to skip the first step. You could try using a key word or expression like "got a sec?" Explain that you need to get her permission, and that is how you will do it if she doesn't like you explicitly asking. She will soon learn that this is asking for permission to give her feedback but without the exact words "can I give you some feedback"? It achieves the same end.

[i][b]It is a critical step, and the function of it cannot be skipped[/b][/i]

I'd still be interested in M&M's comments on this.

Mark's picture

Eric-

Thanks for not yelling anymore. :wink:

I'm not sure I understand your question, if it is one. I'd never give feedback without asking first, even to a high D. I could go on for hours about this, but basically, even high D's aren't ready for feedback always.

Of course it's probably over-picky, but feedback is not about stuff you have a beef about. It's just... feedback.

It's not about being nice... though professional performance discsussions are always pleasant in tone. If you can't stay pleasant, walk away.

It's about performance.

ALWAYS ASK. She'll get over it.

Mark

PierG's picture

In my experience, some managers (I'm guilty on this topic :( ) , sometimes spend A LOT OF TIME talking/reasoning with few collegues about some topics.

All this 'tallking' makes them so comfortable with/used to this specific topic that they fill like anybody in the team has to know about it ... in an hosmotic or magic way. It's not an 'active' thinking, it's just that the don't feel the need to communicate "we have been talking about it for weeks!!!"

So they feel they are giving feedback but they are not!

PierG

P.S. Of course this is not exactly 'feedback' related: it can be applied to different communication topics

cowie165's picture

I have an [b]in[/b]direct report. This person reports to me on internal training issues, as I am the department training manager.

When a problem arises, I [b]usually[/b] provide feedback. [i]May I give you some feedback? Great, thanks. When you do [this], here's what happens[/i]. Frustratingly, the changes taking place are either very slow or non-existent. When the same problem arises again, we are both already tired of discussing it. I am tired of repeating myself and he is tired of hearing it. In my opinion, he feels I am criticizing rather than providing feedback.

He is a high-D and in my opinion could use some more C :)

Any advice would be appreciated. He is a great guy however tends to shoot from the hip with little attention to detail. Sound like a high-D? Unfortunately, our type of work (aviation industry) requires rules to be followed [b]with[/b] the attention to detail.

Thanks guys.
Mark

Mark's picture

Mark-

Keep giving him feedback. Over time, you may need to give him systemic feedback if you're correcting the same thing over and over again.

On the other hand, we've never suggested that everyone will automatically correct their behavior. As long as you're certain that you're not being too picky, it sounds like this guy just doesn't like to be corrected.

Probably wouldn't hurt to give some positive feedback too, using the model, to offset his sense that you're criticizing him.

That doesn't eliminate your responsibilty to help him be more effective.

Mark

cowie165's picture

Mark thanks for your reply and for your encouragement.

I have actually used positive feedback with him and enjoyed great results. It did throw him off a bit - like he was waiting for the punchline or a "but..." at the end! You're right, it is a great tool. Moreso, in my opinion it is a [b]requirement[/b], as being recognised for good performance has value far beyond the hip pocket. Credit where it is due.

That said, and I'll try and stay general rather than specific (this isn't Dr Phil!). It seems that he lacks a little self-confidence, which leads to the conflict when I approach with negative feedback. I guess I'm answering my own question here - more positive reinforcement for what he does do right should breed confidence which will [i]hopefully[/i] allow him to receive corrective feedback in the pursuit of further positive feedback.

Boy I hope that made sense.

Mark, great point regarding having a responsibility to help. If I can increase his effectiveness the whole organisation will benefit. Specifically, he can fulfil all the requirements of his job, and the guys picking up the slack can get back to delivering their own! Nice. (He'll also be a lot happier to boot).

Thanks once again. This place is a great sounding board.

Mark

lotstolearn's picture

I am working on giving feedback, just have a really stupid question. My Executive Assistant walk in and hands me something she did. After she hands it to me and I look at it while she stands there - rather then saying wow, this is great thanks. You now want me to say - "Can I tell you something? When you create such a great report for me, it makes my life so much easier, makes me feel like I can continue to give you greater responsibilities, and I really appreciate it. Thanks." - Just want to make sure I understand what I am supposed to be doing.

Secondly, if I understand correctly, if she walks in 3x during the day, each time with a great piece of work, I am supposed to say the same thing again or do you try to vary it so you don't sound canned. Do you just do it once per day per person?

juliahhavener's picture

Feedback like this is geared toward telling them exactly what they're doing well. 'Nice job' could be talking about the spacing on the page, the thoroughness of the report, or the ink being dry. 'When you consistently bring me reports that are clear, concise, and complete, it makes my life so much easier, makes me feel like I can continue to give you greater responsibilities, and I really appreciate it. Keep up the good work.'

You don't want to say the same thing over and over unless it's something you've been working on. Let's say your EA previously has had trouble with formatting different reports the way you want them. You would want to identify pieces of the reports that she's doing the way you want them for your affirming feedback.

The goal is to identify and reinforce the behavior you WANT or to ask for change to the ones you don't want.

Mark's picture

Lotstolearn-

Yes, you have it mostly right (I'd be more specific: on time, right formatting, research done, etc.). Beats hell out of that other canned and completely dismissed response: "wow this is great thanks."

Mark

jhack's picture

Taking Mark's point a bit further: your best performers also have the greatest potential.

So by being specific, you do two things. First, you ensure that they will continue to do _specifically_ what makes that work product great:

"...When you include a graph of the data, I can understand this more quickly and it will have a greater impact on the [whatever] team..."

Second, you're establishing a foundation for positive input, adjusting feedback and/or coaching. When you provide input like, "using a grouped column chart will more effectively show the time trend data than a series of pie charts..." they already know you appreciate the things they do well, and are likely to see this as developmental rather than reprimand.

John

jhack's picture

For the record, I find feedback to be the hardest of all M-T recommendations to do well. It is powerful. It is not my natural style, it feels so formulaic, it requires constant attention to behavior so that frequent feedback can be given, one has to then understand and articulate the consequences of the behavior, and the result needs to come out sounding natural and easy, like breathing.

Metaphor du jour: feeling like a lungfish.

attmonk's picture

[quote="jhack"]For the record, I find feedback to be the hardest of all M-T recommendations to do well. It is powerful. It is not my natural style, it feels so formulaic, it requires constant attention to behavior so that frequent feedback can be given, one has to then understand and articulate the consequences of the behavior, and the result needs to come out sounding natural and easy, like breathing.

Metaphor du jour: feeling like a lungfish.[/quote]

Glad I'm not alone.
Whilst I understand the model conceptually I have been struggling to apply it anything like consistently, you have just given me one of those "ah ha!!" moments. I need to give constant attention to my people and their behaviours until this becomes another boring, routine management behaviour.
Thanks, I think the penny may have just dropped for me.

LouFlorence's picture

Me too.

To be completely candid, I actually deliver feedback (as described in the model) 1-2 times daily. Some days more, some days not at all (although those days are becoming more rare). Half is affirming, half is not. This does not include praise, which is easy and nice to do but does not count as feedback.

I know that with 6 directs, 5 matrixed and a couple hundred more in my organization, I should be doing lots more feedback and that the proportion of positive feedback should be much higher. In spite of my failure to come up to the standard, the feedback I am doing is having a transforming effect on the organization. It's amazing.

Lou

thaGUma's picture

Top tip for us Brits. Start with positive feedback. It allows you to get used to giving feedback (and you know how weird it can be to get a compliment). After a while it gets easier to include adjusting feedback.
Chris

cowie165's picture

[quote="donnachie"]Top tip for us Brits. Start with positive feedback. It allows you to get used to giving feedback (and you know how weird it can be to get a compliment). After a while it gets easier to include adjusting feedback.
Chris[/quote]

Chris that is such a great idea. Giving positive feedback is so much easier than adjusting feedback - what a great way to get your foot in the water.

WillDuke's picture

It's interesting too that she stands there waiting for you to read it. She's waiting for the feedback. Don't deny her.

tomw's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]Thanks for not yelling anymore. :wink: [/quote]

It took me a long time to get to that point. A few years ago I got dinged on a review for my patience and personal skills, that I tended to get too upset with people who were not performing as well as I had hoped.

I was getting better, thanks to Covey and Carnegie... then I just found Manager Tools about 6 months ago and have gotten WAY better, since I now have a much more focused approach of one-one-ones (almost always), feedback (still getting the hang of it, but doing it as much as I can), and coaching (just starting to work on this)

lotstolearn's picture

I get it - be very specific re the feedback. It does make it harder in the sense you need to articulate in your own head why you are happy with the report/their work so you can give better feedback.

I don't know if it will ever feel natural. I am practicing the positive to get used to the process. I even did it to my son last night to help me get used to it. My husband said, don't do that management crap on me so I won't use it on him I guess!

I am glad to hear that others find this hard to implement.

:o

terrih's picture

I used it on my husband, a little modified though...

"Can I mention something?"
"sure what is it?"
"When you hang your washcloth on the far end of the shower bar... it drips onto the toilet paper." :lol:
"Ohhh! I'll watch out for that."

OK, so I left out "What can you do differently." He got the picture. :wink:

Terri

cowie165's picture

[quote="terrih"]

OK, so I left out "What can you do differently." He got the picture. :wink:

Terri[/quote]

Yep. You leave that step out when you're talking to the boss :D

oh sooooo kidding. I'm going to pay for that remark :)

Mark

terrih's picture

Yes you are. :wink:

Terri