Call Shari 303-863-0948 or Email Us

Posts Tagged ‘receive feedback’

Build Confidence by Taking A Step Back

One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is hire someone to care for my almost two year old son. “Here is the person most important to me in the world. Keep him alive.” I had no idea how difficult it would be to trust a relative stranger so implicitly. And asbuild confidence a result, let’s just say I’ve not been the easiest for a nanny to work with.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I wrote sixteen-pages of instructions of how to take care of my kid. And I gave that ‘booklet’ to a nanny with much more childcare experience than I have. When I work from home and hear my son crying, I tell myself not to walk into the room and check on him, knowing it undermines the nanny, but I do it anyway. When the nanny sends me an update of when my son last ate, I reply telling her when he should eat again, even though I know she knows. Yes, I’ve really been doing these things.

Each time I over instruct, monitor, and advise, I regret it. I know micromanaging the nanny makes me difficult to work with, which is not how I want to be. It reminds me of a comment an old boss said to me after we interviewed a candidate for a job together. He said, “Shari, your job as the interviewer is to make the candidate feel comfortable and ensure she leaves feeling good, regardless of how well or poorly she interviewed.” My face must have said anything but, “I want you to feel comfortable and you’re doing a great job.” His words stuck with me and I’m reminded of them each time I over manage our nanny.

Many people attend training on how to manage others; I’d suggest we also look at how we manage ourselves. How does working with you make people feel? Do your questions, requests, and interactions make people feel more self-confident and valued or do people feel questioned and undermined? Do you pick your battles? Do you give just enough direction but not so much as to squelch the other person’s ideas, initiative and spirit, especially when the stakes are high?

As you know, I’m evaluating how I do these things too. We are always a work in progress.

Here are four ways to build confidence in the people you work with:

Build Confidence 1: Ask people for their ideas and implement those ideas whenever possible. And if you aren’t open to others’ ideas, don’t ask for them. It’s better not to ask for ideas than to ask when you’re really not interested.

Build Confidence 2: Ask for and be open to others’ feedback. People will be more receptive to your feedback when you’re receptive to theirs.

Build Confidence 3: Say “thank you” regularly and mean it. Give specific examples about what you’re thankful for.

Build Confidence 4: Admit when you’re wrong. Strong people admit mistakes, weak people don’t.

People can work with you, around you, and against you. Earn loyalty and respect by respecting others’ talents and knowing when to take a step back.

build confidence


Build Confidence by Taking A Step Back

Build Confidence One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is hire someone to care for my infant son. “Here is the person most important to me in the world. Keep him alive.” I had no idea how difficult it would be to trust a relative stranger so implicitly. And as a result, let’s just say I’ve not been the easiest for a nanny to work with.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I wrote sixteen-pages of instructions of how to take care of my infant son. And I gave that ‘booklet’ to a nanny with much more childcare experience than I have. When I work from home and hear my son crying, I tell myself not to walk into the room and check on him, knowing it undermines the nanny, but I do it anyway. When the nanny sends me an update of when my son last ate, I reply telling her when he should eat again, even though I know she knows. Yes, I’ve really been doing these things.

Each time I over instruct, monitor, and advise, I regret it. I know micromanaging the nanny makes me difficult to work with, which is not how I want to be. It reminds me of a comment an old boss said to me after we interviewed a candidate for a job together. He said, “Shari, your job as the interviewer is to make the candidate feel comfortable and ensure she leaves feeling good, regardless of how well or poorly she interviewed.” My face must have said anything but, “I want you to feel comfortable and you’re doing a great job.” His words stuck with me and I’m reminded of them each time I over manage our nanny.

Many people attend training on how to manage others; I’d suggest we also look at how we manage ourselves. How does working with you make people feel? Do your questions, requests, and interactions make people feel more self-confident and valued or do people feel questioned and undermined? Do you pick your battles? Do you give just enough direction but not so much as to squelch the other person’s ideas, initiative and spirit, especially when the stakes are high?

As you know, I’m evaluating how I do these things too. We are always a work in progress.

Here are four ways to build confidence in the people you work with:

Build Confidence 1: Ask people for their ideas and implement those ideas whenever possible. And if you aren’t open to others’ ideas, don’t ask for them. It’s better not to ask for ideas than to ask when you’re really not interested.

Build Confidence 2: Ask for and be open to others’ feedback. People will be more receptive to your feedback when you’re receptive to theirs.

Build Confidence 3: Say “thank you” regularly and mean it. Give specific examples about what you’re thankful for.

Build Confidence 4: Admit when you’re wrong. Strong people admit mistakes, weak people don’t.

People can work with you, around you, and against you. Earn loyalty and respect by respecting others’ talents and knowing when to take a step back.

P.S. Congratulations to our Denver Broncos!


Repair Your Professional Reputation – It’s Not Too Late

reputation

Changing a damaged reputation is challenging. My number one piece of advice: Be very overt about the changes you’re making.

Here are eight steps to discover and repair your professional reputation:

Step one to repair your professional reputation: Make a list of people who observe your performance and who can impact your career. If you’re not sure who these people are, ask your boss and peers. They know.

Step two to repair your professional reputation: Ask for specific, candid feedback at least twice a year, and tell people why you’re asking for the information.

Asking, “How am I doing?” is not specific. Instead, say something like, “I want to learn more about my reputation in the office and want to eliminate my blind spots. I’d be grateful for any input you can provide on my reputation and what people say about me when I’m not there.” Then schedule a specific time in the near future to discuss the feedback, so you don’t catch people off guard. You’ll get better feedback when people have had a chance to observe your behavior and think about what they’d like to say.

Step three to repair your professional reputation: Listen to the feedback and no matter how hard the feedback is to hear, say, “Thank you for telling me that.” Don’t defend yourself. Instead, leave the conversation, think about what the person has said, and then go back to him a few days later with questions, if you need to.

Step four to repair your professional reputation: If the feedback you receive doesn’t feel accurate, tell others who you trust about the feedback and ask them to provide input.

Step five to repair your professional reputation: Sit with the feedback before taking action. Let yourself be emotional. You might feel angry, sad, or betrayed. All of those are normal responses to feedback.

Step six to repair your professional reputation: Take action. Make changes that feedback providers suggested.

Step seven to repair your professional reputation: Tell people who provided input and who are impacted by your behavior about the changes you’ve made. You could say, “I recently received feedback that I’m not careful enough and that my work often has errors. I’m really working on this. Will you pay attention to the accuracy of what you receive from me and let me know if you see changes? I’d really appreciate your input.”

Step seven is very important and something people rarely do. Don’t assume people will notice the changes you’ve made. Instead, assume they won’t. Without being told what to look for, the decisions people have already made about you will supersede changes you’ve made. It takes a lot of effort to see people differently. Validating what we already know and think about someone is much easier and more likely than noticing changes.

Step eight to repair your professional reputation: Continue to ask for feedback. Receiving feedback is not a one-time-event. It’s an ongoing process. Don’t ask for feedback weekly, rather check in once a quarter, tell people the changes you’ve made, and ask for specific input.

You can change your reputation, if you want to. Doing so will require courage, openness, and effort on your part. Work on one or two things at a time, not ten. And then reward yourself for the changes you’ve made with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, because too often we’re hard on ourselves and forget to celebrate wins.

 reputation


Become a Candid Culture – Make It Easier to Give Feedback at Work

For the most part, people are afraid to speak up at work. Despite the town hall meetings and roundtable discussions executives host, the feedback training offered, the existence of ask-the-CEO email addresses and blogs, and employee satisfaction and engagement surveys, many employees are still afraid to give feedback at work, citing fear of damaging relationships, being fired, and other forms of retaliation.

Those of you who have worked with me, read How to Say Anything to Anyone, and/or used our tools, know that I am on a quest to make it easier to tell the truth at work.

The Candid Culture Vision:

  1. Coworkers, leaders, and managers set clear expectations before problems occur. No one has to guess what is expected of them and what a good job looks like.
  2. Employees ask for and receive regular, balanced and candid feedback and always know where they stand performance wise.
  3. Managers and leaders are open to and ask for feedback. They always know what’s really happening in the organization and can lead accordingly.
  4. People talk to each other versus about each other. Gossip and drama is the exception, not the norm.
  5. Work is a fun place to be. People enjoy working together and produce their best work.

Many of you are taking actions to create the environment I’ve described above. I want to hear from you and want to use this blog to share practices for creating more candid communication at work.

VerticalResponse1.20.14blog

Add a comment and tell us:

  • What you are doing to increase the trust and communication in your organization.
  • The avenues you are using to give feedback on your team, in your department, or in your entire organization.

We’ll enter you to win 50 of our new door tags. The door tags were designed to tell your coworkers that your office is a place they can speak freely, without concern.


Giving Feedback is Hard – Setting Expectations Is Easier

Setting ExpectationsMy last few blog posts focused on giving feedback. The posts were designed to help managers get ready to write and deliver performance appraisals.

Giving feedback will always be hard. No one wants to hear that she isn’t doing a good job, thus no one wants to tell her. Part of the performance appraisal process is setting expectations for the next year. And asking for what you want, before problems happen, will always be easier than giving feedback.

If you’ve seen me speak or attended one of our training programs, you received a list of Candor Questions designed to eliminate the guessing at work. They may have been questions for leaders, managers, strengthening business relationships or managing careers. Regardless of which Candor Question Cards you received, the goal is the same. Ask more. Assume less.

The most frequent request I get is for feedback training. Managers tell me, “The communication in our company isn’t good. Can you help our managers and employees be more candid?”  And I tell business leaders, “I teach people to be more comfortable giving feedback. But why start with something hard? Why not start by asking more questions and getting to know people better, which is much easier and will reduce the number of feedback conversations you need to have?”

When we know what people expect, we can give people what they need. We make fewer ‘mistakes’, requiring fewer feedback conversations. So start with what’s easy. Ask more questions.

Start with what I call Introductory Candor Questions

  • How do you like to receive information – email, voicemail or text message?
  • Are you a detail-oriented or a big-picture person? How much information do you want to receive and in what format?
  • What are your pet peeves at work? What would I do that would be frustrating, and I’d never know it?

Then move on to Candor Questions for Managers:

  • What had you choose to work here, and what would make you question that decision?
  • What kind of work do you love to do most? What kind of work do you like to do least?
  • What do you wish I would start, stop, and continue doing?

You can download samples of our seven types of Candor Questions here.

People are not us and don’t do things the way we do. Don’t assume someone will create a report as you would, participate in a meeting as you would, or dress for an event as you would. Setting expectations before the event of what you want, gives them a chance to be successful.

 

 

Giving Feedback is Hard – Asking for What You Want is Easier. By Shari Harley.


The Feedback Formula – Give Feedback in Two Minutes or Less

The Feedback Formula:

1. Introduce the conversation so feedback recipients know what to expect.

2. Empathize so both the feedback provider and the recipient feel as comfortable as possible.

3. Describe the observed behavior so the recipient can picture a specific, recent example of what you’re referring to. The more specific you are, the less defensive he will be, and the more likely he’ll be to hear you and take corrective action.

4. Sharing the impact or result describes the consequences of the behavior. It’s what happened as a result of the person’s actions.

5. Having some dialogue gives both people a chance to speak and ensures that the conversation is not one-sided. Many feedback conversations are not conversations at all; they’re monologues. One person talks and the other person pretends to listen, while thinking what an idiot you are. Good feedback conversations are dialogues during which the recipient can ask questions, share his point of view, and explore next steps.

6. Make a suggestion or request so the recipient has another way to approach the situation or task in the future. Most feedback conversations tell the person what he did wrong and the impact of the behavior; only rarely do they offer an alternative. Give people the benefit of the doubt. If people knew a better way to do something, they would do it another way.

7. Building an agreement on next steps ensures there is a plan for what the person will do going forward. Too many feedback conversations do not result in behavior change. Agreeing on next steps creates accountability.

8. Say “Thank you” to create closure and to express appreciation for the recipient’s willingness to have a difficult conversation.

If you’re giving more than one piece of feedback during a conversation, address each issue individually. For example, if you need to tell someone that she needs to arrive on time and also check her work for errors, first go through the eight steps in the formula to address lateness. When you’ve discussed an agreement of next steps about being on time, go back to step one and address the errors. But talk about one issue at a time so the person clearly understands what she’s supposed to do.

Here’s how a conversation could sound, using the eight-step Feedback Formula:

Step One: Introduce the conversation.

“John, I need to talk with you.”

Step Two: Empathize.

“This is a little awkward, and it may be uncomfortable. I want you to know that while I wish I didn’t have to tell you this, I’m doing it because I care about you and I want you to be successful.”

Just because you’re direct doesn’t mean you’re not empathetic. But remember, these are my words. You’ll need to find your own words that you feel comfortable using to deliver such a difficult message.

Step Three: Describe the observed behavior.

“John, I’ve noticed that you have an odor.”

Step Four: Share the impact or result of the behavior.

“I know this is a very awkward subject (more empathy). We work in a small space. I don’t want others to avoid working with you or say negative things about you. And as awkward as this is, I would rather you hear this from me than from someone else. Sometimes health conditions can cause certain odors, as can eating certain foods.”

Step Five: Have some dialogue. Ask the recipient for his perception of the situation.

“What are your thoughts?”

Give John time to say whatever he wishes to say.

Step Six: Make a suggestion or request for what to do next time.

“Again, I’m really sorry to have to tell you this. Please make sure you shower every day before coming to work and wash your clothes regularly. And please tell me if there’s something else you’d like me to know.”

Because of the awkwardness of this subject, skip step seven, and go to step eight.

“Thank you for being willing to have this conversation with me.”

You Can Say More Than You Think You Can

You might be gasping, thinking there is no way you could ever tell someone he smells. It’s definitely an awkward conversation, one I hope you never have to have. I used one of the most difficult things you will ever have to say to demonstrate that even the most awkward feedback can be delivered empathetically and quickly.

The short and concise body-odor conversation is a lot less uncomfortable for the recipient than the drawn-out, evasive first version. Just think, would you rather listen to someone tell you that you smell for two minutes or for twenty?

You may also think, “I shouldn’t have to tell someone to take a shower and wash their clothes.” That’s true, you shouldn’t. But if you’re working with someone who doesn’t do these things, clearly someone needs to tell him. Remember, other people are not you and don’t do things the way you do, even when those things appear to be no-brainer basics.

Lastly, you may think that telling someone to shower and wash his clothes is insulting and demeaning. It’s true: No matter how you spin it, there’s nothing nice about this message. But which is worse, having your coworkers ask for different desks and be unwilling to work with you, or having someone who has your best interests at heart tell you privately to clean it up—quite literally? When you tell people the truth, you do them a favor.

Here’s another example: A few years ago I had a coworker who was a lingerer. Lisa would hover outside my office until she saw an opportunity to interrupt. She then walked in uninvited and started talking. I was still mid-thought about whatever I’d been working on and wasn’t ready to listen. After a few sentences, I would interrupt Lisa, saying, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Will you please start over?”

Embarrassing as it sounds, this went on for more than a year. I wanted to be seen as accessible and open, yet this “lingering” method of interrupting was driving me crazy. And it was a waste of both of our time. After many months of frustration, I decided to use the eight-step Formula.

Step One: Introduce the conversation.

“Lisa, I want to talk about something I’ve noticed.”

Step Two: Empathize.

“I probably should have said something a long time ago. I’m sorry I didn’t.”

Step Three: Describe the observed behavior.

“I’ve noticed that when you want to talk to me you stand at my door, waiting for a good time to interrupt. When you come into my office, you’re often in the middle of a thought or problem that you’ve probably been thinking about for a while.”

Steps Four and Six: Share the impact or result of the behavior and make a suggestion or request for what to do next time.

“Because I’m in the middle of something completely different, it takes me a few seconds to catch up. By the time I have, I’ve missed key points about your question and I have to ask you to start over. This isn’t a good use of either of our time.

“Here is my request: When I’m in my office working and you need something, knock and ask if it’s a good time. If it is, I’ll say yes. Give me a few seconds to finish whatever I’m working on, so I’m focused on you when we start talking. I’ll tell you when I’m ready. Then start at the beginning, giving me a little background, so I have some context. And if it isn’t a good time for me, I’ll tell you that and come find you as soon as I can.”

Step Five: Have some dialogue. Allow the recipient to say whatever she needs to say.

“What do you think?”

Step Seven: Agree on next steps.

“Okay, so next time you want to talk with me, you’re going to tap on the door and ask if it’s a good time to talk. If it’s not, I’ll tell you that and come find you as soon as I can. If it is a good time, you’re going to give me a second to finish whatever I’m working on and give me some background about the issue at hand. Does that work for you?”

We have just managed “the lingerer”—a challenge you probably have, unless you work from home or in a closet.

You may have noticed that I changed the order of the Feedback Formula during this conversation. It’s not the order of the conversation that’s important. It’s that you provide specific feedback, offer alternative actions, and have some dialogue before the conversation ends.

Summary: Good Feedback Is Specific, Succinct, and Direct.

Provided you have a trusting relationship with someone and have secured permission to give feedback, there is very little you can’t say in two minutes or less. The shorter and more direct the message, the easier it is to hear and act upon. Follow the eight-step Feedback Formula. Be empathetic and direct. Cite specific examples. Give the other person a chance to talk. Come to agreement about next steps. Remember, you do people a favor by being honest with them. People may not like what you have to say, but they will invariably thank you for being candid.

This week’s blog is an excerpt from my book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide for Building Business Relationships That Really Work. I hope it helps you have the conversations you need to have! Be candid. You can do it!


Performance Appraisals – Give Small Amounts of Balanced Feedback

If I hear this one more time I might lose it.

Manager:  “One of my employees has been making a lot of mistakes. He seems disengaged. I’m not sure what’s happening.”

Me:  “Have you talked to him?”People can only focus on one or two things at a time. Give small amounts of feedback often.

Manager:  “No. Performance appraisals are coming up, so I’ll just wait to give the feedback until then.”

Me:  “When are performance appraisals?”

Manager:  “In six weeks.”

Most people hoard feedback. We wait for the right time, aka when we’re comfortable. That time will never come. The right time to give feedback is when something happens or shortly thereafter. Practice the 24-hour rule and the one-week guideline. Give feedback when you’re not upset, but soon after the event occurs, so people remember what you’re talking about.

Most employees feel as if they’re treated unfairly during some portion of a performance appraisal. Employees receive feedback they’ve not previously heard, or receive feedback that is unbalanced – overly positive or negative, or the feedback is so vague employees aren’t sure what to do more, better or differently.

Good performance appraisals are a quick summary of all the performance conversations you’ve had during the year and planning for next year. To have an appraisal meeting like this one, managers need to meet with their employees regularly and give feedback every time you meet. And that is the management BEST suggestion I can make.

Meet regularly with your employees. If you never meet one-on-one with employees, start meeting monthly. If you meet monthly, meet twice a month. If you meet twice a month, consider meeting weekly for 30 minutes.

The one-on-one meeting agenda, which the employee owns:

  • What is the employee working on that’s going well?
  • What is the employee working on that is not going great, but she doesn’t want your help?
  • What is the employee working on this isn’t going great and she wants your help?
  • Give each other feedback: What went well since you last met?  What could be improved?

**  Give and receive feedback on the work and on your relationship. This will be hard the first few times you do it, but will become easier with each successive conversation.

Ask your employee to create a meeting agenda. Take notes on the agenda and keep your notes. The summary of these meetings becomes your annual performance appraisal.

Regardless of whether or not you’re meeting regularly, throughout the year and have performance notes, you can only give small pieces of feedback during the appraisal meeting. Discuss three SPECIFIC things the employee did well during the year and three things she should do next year. People can’t focus on more.

Think about the New Year’s resolutions you may have made last January. You might have promised yourself you’d save ten percent of your income, lose twenty pounds, take a two-week vacation without your phone, and apply to attend graduate school. How many of those things did you do?  Setting too many aggressive goals sets us up to fail. And performance appraisals are not different.

Consider how each of your employees must impact your department and your organization’s annual goals. In that context, determine the most important things each employee did to contribute to those goals this past year and what she should have done more, better or differently? That’s your appraisal. Not more and not less.

During performance appraisals, force yourself to focus on and present ONLY the most important behaviors and outcomes, and your employees will bring the same focus to the ensuing year.

How to Say Anything to Anyone Book


How to Respond to Negative Feedback

The normal, human response to negative feedback is to become defensive. Becoming defensive is a survival instinct, like hitting your breaks when the car in front of you stops short. It’s almost unavoidable.

The challenge with becoming defensive is that the person who risked telling you the truth (as she sees it) doesn’t want to deal with your defensiveness. Your defensiveness is . . . scary, intimidating, annoying – fill in the blank.

So what’s the right answer?

Here’s my recommendation on how to respond to negative feedback:

When someone gives you feedback, listen. Listening doesn’t mean you do what the other person wants. Listening merely means take in the message. Hear what the other person has to say. And ask questions for greater understanding, if you can do so without being defensive. In my experience, asking questions, in the moment, without being defensive is VERY hard to do.

I got critiqued for admitting, in last week’s blog, that I broke one of my own rules by sending feedback via email. I study, teach and write about how to communicate well. And I’m human. Sometimes my emotions get the best of me. But when they do, I clean it up fast.

The last time I got feedback from a friend I got defensive. And during the conversation, right after I became defensive, I caught myself, apologized, and asked the person to tell me again. I said, “I’m sorry I got defensive. Tell me again and I’ll do a better job of listening.”

You won’t always communicate perfectly. It’s not possible. The key is to catch yourself quickly and clean up the messes you make. If you raise your voice, apologize. If you cry, remove yourself from the situation until you can speak calmly. If you push back and defend versus listen, own your behavior and do a better job of listening. You’ll earn respect by admitting when you fall short.

It’s easy to mistake listening to feedback and saying “Thank you for telling me that” as agreement. I’m not suggesting you agree or give in. When you’re calm and can interpret the feedback, without emotion, go back to the person to talk more. It’s ok to push back. It’s ok to say you disagree or that she is mistaken. But if you have this conversation when you receive the feedback, the other person will likely be so daunted by your reaction that she is not likely to give you feedback again, and that’s a loss for you.

So few people will risk being honest with you, make it easy on those who do.

A few weeks ago one of my friends asked for feedback on how he communicated. When I told him what I thought he responded with, “So, you’re telling me I did it all wrong.” Aka, he got defensive, so I back peddled. In that moment my brain got trained, this guy can’t take feedback. So the next time he asks me, I won’t give any.

It doesn’t take much to train people not to tell you the truth. One instance of defensiveness will do it. Don’t do that to yourself. You need the data. You don’t need to agree with what the person says or change your behavior, but you need to know what people think and say about your performance.

Let’s review how to respond to negative feedback:

  1. Ask for feedback.
  2. Listen.
  3. Don’t defend.
  4. Think about what the person said.
  5. Wait until you’re calm.
  6. When you can ask questions and discuss without being defensive, talk further.

Now that you know how to respond to negative feedback, use our Advancing Career Questions to get more feedback:


Sign Up

Career tips
you won't get
elsewhere. Sign up
to get a free
tip card.