OK, so it's hard for me to give feedback to my team. I keep trying to provide both positive and adjusting feedback but it's just not getting any easier and I don't feel like I'm getting any better at it - ugh!

The opprtunities:
1) I feel that I am not being genuine with my positive feedback.
2) I don't know if I am clear on the "behavior" for the adjusting feedback episodes which ofter causes confusion for both me and my employee. For example, when I give adjusting feedback - "when you reply in meetings with defensive tones and raise your voice in meetings it (WHAT DO I SAY???). This is the part that is difficult for me... pinpointing their behavior and the impact it has and how I want it to change is the big confusion point for me.

I have stumbled in my pursuit of the MT Trilogy and would like some guidance from my fellow forum members. Anyone else struggle with this and/or any guidance, suggestions on how to overcome this challenge are greatly welcome.

To Mark's emphasis.. I want to breathe (or have feedback be as easy as breathing) and I feel like I am suffocating :D .


lalam's picture

Feedback is hard...until it becomes a second nature. One technique I have been using that proved very helpful was to give very specific examples first, rather than describing the behavior: "When in the meeting today you responded to John and said that (insert quite here), this made you sound very defensive. You had a valid objection but because it came through as being defensive, the impact was lost on the audience."

Same applies to positive feedback. "When you spoke up in the meeting today and made a point about X, you really helped move the team along towards making a decision."

WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

Are you not being genuine with your positive feedback? Remember, "you're not that smart and they're not that dumb." :) You should always be genuine.

Do you not like anything they're doing?
Does nothing they do add value?
Are you taking their good traits for granted?
Are you taking your directs for granted?

Some of your directs are probably better at some things than others. Those things would be worthy of feedback. Especially for the directs who could improve!

What is a defensive tone? That's not behavior, you're interpreting.

What happens when they raise their voice? Does it prevent further discussion? Does it intimidate others?

How you want it to change - 2 things. You want it to stop. They have to offer up how they are going to do that.

If you want to pm me with something more specific I'll be happy to work through a couple with you.

bflynn's picture


1) You care or you wouldn't be doing this. You're trying to do something good for yourself and for your directs.
2) You're stumbling a little in the implementation. You don't like that because you want to do good things.

My recommendation is to slow down. Give positive only feedback for some time period. Try to give one positive feedback tomorrow. If you feel like it, go for two. Then add one in when you get the opportunity until get the point where you're giving five pieces of feedback a day. By that time, it should be like breathing. If absolutely necessary, give one correcting feedback per day until you're breathing.

For tracking feedback, I've read that Mark recommends using some kind of counter in your pocket, say a poker chip. Start the day with all the chips in your left pocket. Each time you give feedback, move a chip to your right pocket. You'll have no trouble tracking how your doing.

When you give feedback, remember cause and effect. You're identifying the action, the physical thing that happened. Then, simply state what happens as a result of that action.

- When you come into work on time, it just makes everything run more smoothly. Our meetings kick off on time, you're more relaxed, I'm more relaxed and the entire day goes better. Thank you for doing that. Can you keep it up?

- When you deliver such great code, I notice and I'm really impressed. I am in such awe of your abilities as a programmer. You give me confidence that I can rely on you if we have a crunch. Please keep this up. I see good things in the future for us.



misstenacity's picture

Oooh boy, this is a tough one and I live it nearly every day. Still trying to give all positive feedback as I (and they) are getting used to the concept, but then the glaring examples of needing adjusting feedback pop up and it gets very uncomfortable.

I manage 2 customer service people, and they are literally 3 feet away from me, with no cube walls. I hear everything - especially when they are dealing with a client that for whatever reason is driving them crazy.

I hear the tension in their voice, the slowing down of their voice as if the client were hard of hearing, the banging against the keyboard when they cannot believe how many times they are repeating their instructions, the sighs.... wow, sometimes it makes me feel like I'm hearing fingernails on a blackboard.

In the middle of a call like that - what's the option? IM is the chatty tool of choice here, but IMing them to say, "when you let your annoyance come through in your voice...." just isn't effective, and I'm not aggressive enough to tell them to put the client on hold and give the call to me, or take a breather. Wowsa, I'm getting chills just writing this.

Even giving the feedback right after the call is done is uncomfortable because it's in front of everyone, and they can't walk away because they might have to take another call right away.

Does anyone else here do customer service and have to handle this kind of frustrated actions between your people and the company's clients?

Thank you!

WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

MT - beginning with positive will be really key in your situation. Note when they do a good job of handling a difficult customer. Recognize and reinforce that behavior.

Then, do exactly what you just did. Note the tapping fingernails and loud sighs.

You sound like a pro already. :)

WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

[quote]then the glaring examples of needing adjusting feedback pop up and it gets very uncomfortable. [/quote]
It occurs to me that M&M said to start with affirming before adjusting. But to read between the lines, when starting with adjusting, start small. Work your comfort level up.

misstenacity's picture

[quote="WillDuke"][quote]then the glaring examples of needing adjusting feedback pop up and it gets very uncomfortable. [/quote]
It occurs to me that M&M said to start with affirming before adjusting. But to read between the lines, when starting with adjusting, start small. Work your comfort level up.[/quote]

You're correct - and that is what I'm doing, albeit slowly. I have to be both patient, as well as more assertive. Both attributes will help in the end, surely.

Thank you!

MattJBeckwith's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Not much to add except to suggest you do it everyday.

As others have said, start small, start small, start small. And, do it often.

Look for the little things.

Do it quickly. Let it be an instance, not a session.

Practice, practice, practice.