How are you shifting the performance of your people?
Frustration or Feedback
There is a significant difference between dumping your anger or frustration on someone who is not meeting your standards, and communicating in a way that will create a real and permanent shift in behaviour – as well as the required results. Your ability to give meaningful and effective feedback is probably the most useful skill you can develop as a business leader.
However, like all effective communication, it takes a little effort and practice. You need to consider if it is worth practicing a skill that will create continuous improvement in your teams and ultimately the success of your business.
While it might feel like a good release of pent up feelings; barking at someone, becoming sarcastic or resorting to insults about their abilities, will only create a negative cycle. People who feel unjustly criticized will always become defensive and create their own self justification for why their performance is what it is. It can easily create unhelpful arguments or the silent resentment and systematic collection of evidence against you to use in a grievance or a claim of unfair or even unlawful treatment. This will put you on the back foot because it requires a lot of time, effort and money to defend yourself.
Effective feedback is about raising awareness. It is about the impact of someone's behaviour, not about them personally. Giving effective feedback is a skill that needs to be developed by practicing regularly. Like all good things in life, it's about keeping it very simple.
You should always address 3 topics: you can think of them as the First-AID for improved performance.
A - Action: The observable things the person is doing poorly.
I - Impact: The effects these actions are having.
D - Desired Outcome: The ways in which the person could do things more effectively.
Some Phrases You May Want to Practice:
- "What I have observed is . . ." (their Action, or lack of Action. This can also be applied to unwanted behaviour)
- "Do you understand how that looks to me? The impression I get if I observe that is . . . (this is an opportunity to share how you feel about it – but remember to avoid becoming personal!)
- "The Impact of that on the (business / team / work / Client) is . . . (explain the consequences of their actions / behaviour because they are probably unaware)
- "What I need to see is . . . ." (the desired outcomes or behaviours you want to see )
- "If there is no change, there will be consequences like . . . (be specific: me always on your case / going down the more formal route i.e. disciplinary hearings.)
- "How can I best support you to succeed?"
- "What will you do differently now?
- "When will we review this?"
Catch People Doing Something Right
It is also very powerful to give AID Feedback when you see someone doing something right. Being very specific about the actions and behaviours you observed, the positive impact it is having, and what you like about it will encourage more of the same.
An ‘Inspired Working Article’ reprinted with the permission of David Klaasen, Founder and Managing Director of Inspired Working. Inspired Working works with leaders, directors and senior managers who want to avoid pitfalls and performance traps that arise when implementing their business strategy. For more information visit www.inspiredworking.com and www.the7performancetraps.co.uk for information on how to avoid the performance traps that makes it easy for people to dodge accountability.