My 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.