Monday, November 30, 2009

Food for Feedback

Hopefully you and your boss will get through the dreaded formal review process at your company with your self esteem intact and your temper untested. Here's some advice for next year and the ongoing feedback process that should make every formal review discussion an easy one. You can get a P.H.D. in feedback, but a few simple reminders can help keep you on track all year. There are dozens of tips I know I've left off the lists, so feel free to add your own.

Getting Feedback An old adage – “You don’t ask, you don’t get.” If a boss doesn’t give feedback, shame on them. If you don’t ask for it, shame on you.
  • Evaluate Yourself – think about your own view first
  • Pick Your Spots – know when and where to ask each person
  • Make It Matter – don’t ask on everything, pick key stuff
  • Get Specific – ask what worked and what to work on
  • Offer Thanks – courtesy goes a long way in business

Giving Feedback Follow a time honored HR tip – “Feedback should be about a person’s performance or behavior, not about them as a person”. Respect counts.

  • Be Prepared – avoid ‘shoot from the lip’ feedback
  • Be Specific – vague feedback gives you nothing to work on
  • Ditch the Dump Truck – people can change 1 thing, not 12
  • Focus on Facts – make it personal and you lose credibility
  • Watch Your Language – substitute “and” for “but”
  • Refuse to Dance – don’t return emotion with emotion

Receiving Feedback Follow Ken Blanchard’s advice – “Feedback is the breakfast of champions”. Great performers use feedback to raise the level of their game.

  • Open Your Mind – don’t get stuck in preconceptions
  • Listen Well – don’t interrupt and play it back for clarity
  • Write It Down After – what’s the use if you can’t remember
  • Gauge Its Relevance – to yourself and your role
  • Do Something With It – if you don’t apply it, don’t ask again

Busy leaders need to constantly challenge themselves to communicate with their people and let them know where they stand. The formal twice-yearly discussion milestones aren't enough and feedback by osmosis doesn't cut it. People need to know when they hit or miss the mark and how they can replicate what's working and work on what's not. Often it's too easy for all of us to get wrapped up in the next deal or transaction and not make time to talk to the people who make us great.

That includes our loved ones back at the ranch. They need it too.

For phone feedback to loved ones, a little Stevie Wonder tip. Start the discussion with "I just called to say I love you..."

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