All posts by Casey

Motivation From the Outside In: Beware the Carrot and Stick

“Some mornings it’s just not worth chewing through the leather straps.” Emo Philips

This quote makes me laugh because I see the biting truth of it (pun intended). Too many of us get out of bed each morning and go to work knowing that when we get there, we’ll experience either crushing pressure or dull monotony, conflict with other people, a boss who treats us like a child, and a company that sees us as little more than cogs in a great wheel.

It’s in our nature to work hard, to form deep connections with people, to steer our own course, and to make a contribution. When we go against our nature, when none of these things are happening, we lack the drive to work. We are unmotivated, and with good reason!

Motivating the unmotivated

To be sure, there are times when we even the unmotivated can be induced to work. It’s done through rewards and punishment. Management holds out a carrot, offering a week’s paid vacation to the person who has the highest production numbers, for example. Employees will work hard to reach that target (if the vacation is really what they want), but once the contest is over, they will revert back to their previous level of effort. Or, management wields a stick, threatening some kind of punishment if employees don’t do their jobs. In those cases, people will do just enough to “stay under the radar” and avoid getting into trouble. While some carrots and sticks may work in crisis situations or as a stop-gap remedy, what they mostly do is promote nearsighted thinking, mistrust, cynicism, and a diminished capacity to innovate and create. Hardly a recipe for a healthy workforce.

What is motivation?
From the Latin “to move,” motivation is that which gives purpose and direction to behavior; it is the reason for taking action. People can be motivated from two sources:

Extrinsic: Factors outside the individual (money, perks, bonus points, or other rewards; also threats and punishments). Think of this as motivation from the outside in.

Intrinsic: The internal desire to perform a particular task because it gives people pleasure, develops a skill, or is morally the right thing to do. Think of this as motivation from the inside out.

Carrots: Why (some) rewards work
There is nothing inherently wrong with using extrinsic rewards to motivate, as Dan Pink explains in his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. In fact, certain baseline rewards (salary, benefits, some perks) should be in place, otherwise people will focus on the unfairness of things. Beyond that, though, Pink says we should be wary of using external rewards as a motivational device. He uses this example: A company awards bonuses for those who meet their quarterly sales goal. People will work hard to drives sales for the quarter, competing with fellow co-workers to win. That strategy will work in the short term but not in the long-term success of the company, the customers, or their co-workers. If, on the other hand, the company gives bonuses based on current year’s results, profit in the next couple of years, customer satisfaction, and evaluation of co-workers, people will try hard to make their sales numbers, serve their customers, and help their peers along the way.

Sticks: Why (most) punishments do not work
So, certain kinds of extrinsic rewards can work. But what about punishments? What about using sticks to get people moving? The stick relies on fear—fear of job loss, ridicule, demotion, or other kinds of consequences. Sadly, the use of fear can be a motivator, at least in the short term. But the long-term fallout of this kind of strategy is enormous. People who work under threat of punishment become defensive and cynical. They spend their time and energy lying low (or plotting revenge). And when crouched down in survival mode like this, it’s impossible to think creatively or produce high-quality work.

If you’re looking for ways to create an environment where people are driven to do their best work, you’ll need to think beyond carrots and sticks. It’s a bit trickier, perhaps a little messier, but if you want to create a thriving organization, you’ll need to consider motivation from the inside out.

My next post deals with the intricacies of intrinsic motivation. In the meantime, here’s the link to Dan Pink’s book. Very worthwhile reading.

Until next time . . .

Checking In . . .

Just thought I’d check in with you before proceeding with more content. I’ve been exploring core management responsibilities using John Adair’s Action-Centred Leadership model as a  guide.

We started with meeting task needs, achieving individual, group, and organizational objectives:

  • Setting performance objectives
  • Casting the right person in the job
  • Delegating work
  • Analyzing performance issues
  • Giving/receiving feedback

We continued with meeting team needs, establishing team norms and managing group dynamics:

  • Defining roles and setting expectations
  • Understanding different personality styles
  • Resolving interpersonal conflict
  • Managing group conflict

In the weeks ahead, we’ll look at meeting individual needs, knowing what each person needs from you and the organization and meshing those needs with task and team requirements.

  • Motivating people
  • Empowering people
  • Retaining good people

Stay tuned. The very big topic of motivation is next.

Until next time . . .

I’ve Got a Crush on TED!

I love TED. TED nourishes and sustains me. TED lifts me up and makes me a better person. I’m gushing, I know. I can’t help it.

For those who might not know,  TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” TED holds two conferences each year, where some very bright people speak on wide-ranging topics in the Technology, Entertainment, and Design realms. Their talks, roughly 20 minutes in length, are then posted on TED’s video site for all the world to see. For free.

Go ahead and make a date with TED. (I won’t mind.) You’ll find that it’s well worth the time. You can use it to spice up a routine staff meeting, or just to break up the day. You’ll be amused, delighted, and enlightened. I guarantee it.

To introduce the big topic of motivation, which is the subject of my next post, here’s a link to Dan Pink’s talk on the surprising science about motivation. Enjoy!

Managing Group Conflict

Imagine that you’re sitting in on a group meeting. You notice immediately that there is a climate of openness, respect and high energy. You see that all viewpoints are welcomed; everyone feels free to bring up even the thorniest of issues. There is no shortage of opinion here. Everyone has strong ideas, and yet as impassioned as they are, they engage each other in a civil debate focused on the issues. They work hard to get the best that the collective brain of the team has to offer.

Sounds like a fantasy, doesn’t it?

Most groups I’ve seen or have been a part of seem to swing between two extremes. On one side is a “floating” team is where everyone “makes nice” and avoids conflict at all cost. Team members float along on someone else’s agenda to avoid rocking the boat. They may view teamwork as unnecessary, as something which diminishes their own high standards of performance. At the other end of the spectrum is a team in “friction.” Group members clash openly, criticizing each other’s ideas or using sarcasm and putdowns to make their case. Or, they go underground, resorting to gossiping or back-stabbing. They talk about issues but only with one or two other members and their discussions take place outside the meeting room (water cooler, restroom or parking lot).

Such dysfunctional teams, whether floating or in friction, cannot get any real work done. Fortunately, as manager or project team leader, there are ways to steer your team toward productive conflict. There are ways to turn the fantasy scenario above into a reality. Here are some strategies and techniques:

Stage Setting Meeting
Facilitate a team meeting (or several shorter meetings if time is a factor), which accomplishes the following:

  • Help the team redefine the word “conflict.” The word itself brings up negative images for most people (war, struggle, misery, stress, etc.). Given those terms, who would want to engage in conflict? Try introducing this definition instead: “Conflict is any situation in which incompatible goals, attitudes, emotions, or behaviors lead to disagreement or opposition between two or more parties.” That seems to take some of the heat out of it. Also, emphasize that conflict in itself isn’t a bad thing; it is harmful only when it distracts the team from achieving its objectives.
  • Establish the vision: Ask the team to paint a picture of what productive conflict looks like so they will know when they’re doing it right, such as: all viewpoints are welcomed; issues are surfaced as soon as they arise; concerns are discussed in the room; people focus on issues and not on personalities.
  • Explore the impact: Ask the team to describe the benefits of productive conflict, such as: motivates change and innovation; more serious conflict is defused; people build skills in conflict resolution.
  • Establish ground rules: Ask the team to set their own ground rules for how conflict will be handled. Once they do this, they own it.

During Team Meetings

  • Encourage open discussion of issues and problems as soon as they arise. If team members are unable to discuss the real issue, encourage them to acknowledge what’s getting in the way.
  • Teach your team to recognize what they are in conflict about:
    • Task Conflict—Differences over what work is to get done
    • Process Conflict—Controversy over how work is to get done
    • Relationship Conflict—Dislike or distrust among team members, lack of understanding of different personalities and work styles
  • When you see members engaged in productive (if uncomfortable) conflict, interrupt them right then and there and tell them they are doing it exactly right.
  • If members are in direct conflict with one another, coach them on how to resolve their differences. (For some tips, see my previous post: “How to Resolve Interpersonal Conflict.”)
  • Continually foster an atmosphere of trust and respect within the team.

Steering your team toward productive conflict is not easy. It will take time and it may get messy, at least for a while. But it’s worth the effort. After all, the purpose of forming a group is to get different viewpoints. And the only way to hear those different views is to allow for some healthy conflict. So, rather than avoid conflict, we should move toward it. The benefits are enormous, to individuals, your team, and your organization.

Let me know how it goes.

. . . Until next time.

Resolving Interpersonal Conflict

My last post dealt with whether it is more painful to deal with conflict than to avoid it. If you choose to avoid conflict, just know that it will not go away on its own. It will crop up again and again, often disguised as something else (the person ignores your emails, gives you the cold shoulder in meetings, or targets you as the subject of gossip and ridicule). I think it’s better to try to resolve the conflict, to make it go away forever. It can be a difficult conversation to be sure, but here are some general strategies and techniques to help guide you.

Prepare
Don’t attempt to resolve conflict in the heat of the moment. Allow time to calm down and collect your thoughts. Ask yourself: What is the real problem or issue and how is it interfering with my/our work? What, if anything, is getting in the way of our discussing the real issue? What do I want/need from the other party? What can I give to the other party?

Express yourself
Communicate your position clearly and thoroughly, providing specific examples pertaining to issues and behaviors rather than emotions and personalities. Be clear about what it is that you want. Many people are not able to express how they feel or to state what they want or need. Speaking your mind requires that you truly believe you have a right to voice your thoughts, wishes, and opinions.

Listen
Actively listen to the other person’s position. Ask questions to clarify. Check for accuracy and reflect back feelings to get a clear understanding of the issue/problem from the other person’s perspective. Seek to understand, even if you disagree. Probe for the person’s underlying concern or need.

Work Together
Build a partnership. Take responsibility for your part of the problem. Focus on issues of fairness. Seek to find commonalities. Summarize the apparent needs and desires of both parties. Try: “What I hear you saying is . . .” “This is how I see it . . .” “We both want . . .” Drawing on agreed upon points and shared needs and desires, discuss possible alternatives to solutions. Brainstorm! Be creative in exploring options.

Plan for Action
Select the solution that is mutually acceptable, even if it’s not perfect for either party. Agree on the details of what each party must do, who is responsible for implementing the various parts of the agreement, and what to do if the agreement breaks down.

Follow Up
Plan to meet again to monitor how well solutions are working.

Learn From the Conflict
Analyze the outcome. Ask yourself: Was the conflict resolved? If not, why not? Did I fully express my thoughts and feelings? Did I convey my needs and wants? Was I being fair-minded? What would I do differently next time?

The key to pulling off this kind of conversation is having strong communication skills in three areas: assertive speaking, active listening, and asking probing questions. Practice building these skills and see if you don’t get better at resolving conflict (or just about anything else that’s required of you as a manager).

I liked this book by Tim Ursiny. It appealed to my “scaredy cat” self.

Until next time . . .

Resolving Conflict: Weighing the Pain Factor

I don’t like conflict. I never have. I prefer to smooth things over and remain on friendly terms with people. When I become involved in a confrontation with someone I experience a physical reaction, a clutching sensation in the pit of my stomach. Naturally, I want to avoid that uncomfortable feeling so I take myself out of the situation. I keep my thoughts and opinions to myself. I put aside my wishes. I stuff my feelings.

I have come to realize that conflict avoidance has not served me well in life or in my work. Not rocking the boat is exhausting and gets me nowhere. There are times when I do need to stand up for vital issues, or let someone know that they’ve stomped on my feelings, or repair the damage I have caused when I’ve stomped on someone else.

Dealing with conflict is necessary. The tricky part, at least for me, is to have the guts (literally) to face it and then work through the process of resolving it.

Facing conflict is hard for a lot of people, but here’s something that might help. When faced with a choice to confront or to avoid conflict, ask yourself: Does the pain of doing nothing outweigh the pain of taking action?

Let’s say that your boss chewed you out in front of your employees and let’s say this isn’t the first time she’s done this. You have a choice to make: either say nothing and kick the dog when you get home, or let your boss know that her behavior is unacceptable. In the short term, for scaredy cats like me, it’s less painful to say nothing. After all, who wants to go up against Attila the Hun? But think longer term. By saying nothing you’re sending a powerful message: Your employees see you as weak and ineffective and your boss thinks you’re a pushover and will likely continue treating you that way. Avoiding this conflict will cause you much more pain later on.

So, bite the bullet and deal with the conflict. Yes, the conversation likely will be difficult. You don’t know how your boss might react; she may get angry and defensive; she may call you a wimp. (Of course, there’s an outside chance she may thank you for pointing out something that no one else has had the guts to do before!) In any case, you can’t control her reaction, but you can control yours. For your sake and the sake of your career, deal with the pain now and confront her.

The next time you’re faced with a choice to deal with conflict or not, try weighing the pain factor.

I’ll offer some tips and techniques for resolving conflict in the next post.

Until next time . . .

It Takes All Types: The Personality Mix

True confession. I spent a lot of time as manager and co-worker insulting anyone who differed from me on practically any subject. (Fortunately, I always did this in my head, so no one knew about it.)

During meetings, when others shared thoughts and ideas that differed from mine, I’d quickly conclude that they were wrong-headed, pea-brained, or just plain idiotic. I’d grow increasingly impatient with their faulty thinking and would issue all kinds of silent putdowns, such as:

“What planet are you on?”

“Could you possibly be any more thick-headed?”

“What a jackass.”

Not nice, I know. In my ignorance (and arrogance), I thought my way of thinking was so sound and so right that I wondered how anyone could possibly see things differently. Eventually, I discovered that people really do differ in how they perceive and react to things. People’s personalities are varied and distinct and that’s as it should be; it’s those very differences that enliven and enrich group experiences.

Think of why we work in groups. What’s the purpose of putting forth a group effort? It’s to gather different perspectives, right? A single individual can only go so far based on his or her background, knowledge, and experience. To build on that person’s ideas, you need to gather the wisdom of the group. It is the collective brain that comes up with the best ideas and the best solutions to problems.

Let’s face it, though, group work can be messy and time consuming. It’s not easy to get group members to value different perspectives and approaches.

Here’s a place to start.

You may have heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or the MBTI. It’s been around for ages. It’s a self-reporting instrument that determines people’s natural preferences in four areas:

  • Where they get their energy (Introverted vs. Extraverted)
  • How they take in information (Sensing vs. Intuiting)
  • How they make decisions (Thinking vs. Feeling)
  • Their lifestyle choices (Judging vs. Perceiving).

I took the instrument as part of a course to qualify as an MBTI practitioner, which means that I can administer the instrument and provide feedback to individuals and groups to help them gain a better understanding of their unique contributions and potential growth areas.

I learned a lot during that course. I found out that my personality, my way of being in the world, is only one of sixteen types and that all 16 types have a great deal to offer. I also learned how to bring out the various personalities of my team members. Here are some tips for maximizing different personalities in group settings.

Extravert/Introvert: Extraverts typically like to talk things out while Introverts like to process stuff in their heads. Send a meeting agenda to your team in advance, which allows the Introverts to think about the topics beforehand and come ready to discuss their thoughts and ideas.

Sensing/Intuiting: Sensing people generally concern themselves with the concrete and practical matters at hand, while Intuiting people prefer imagining possibilities. Encourage the team to talk about the known facts as well as future “what if” scenarios.

Thinking/Feeling: Thinking decision-makers typically use logic and analysis to form their conclusions, while Feeling decision-makers base theirs on personal convictions. Some on the team will troubleshoot the nuts and bolts of a project (Thinking) while others will stress the need to consider how the project’s outcomes affect morale (Feeling). Both perspectives are vital to the decision-making process and both should be heard.

Judging/Perceiving: Judging people are generally concerned with maintaining structure and obtaining closure while Perceiving people are more flexible and want to keep their options open. Balance the need to meet deadlines with the need to change course when new information is received.

There’s a lot more to understanding personality types than what I’ve covered here, but I think this is a good place to start.

When people who work together understand the value of different personalities they can become a force to be reckoned with. People will be more willing to consider other points of view. You might even hear someone say: “Gee, I hadn’t thought about that. Talk to me some more.”

That’s much more productive than calling someone a jackass.

What do you think? I’m interested in hearing your opinion or offering ideas, so please feel free to comment.

Until next time . . .

Assume the Position: Defining Roles and Setting Expectations

The last few posts dealt with meeting task needs—achieving individual, group, and organizational objectives. I covered a bunch of topics in this area: setting performance standards, matching the person with the job, delegating effectively, analyzing performance issues, and giving and receiving feedback.

In the weeks ahead, I’m going to talk about a different set of needs: the needs of your team. Meeting these needs is about establishing team norms and managing group dynamics. Before you can do that, however, you need to assume your role as manager of the group. You need to define your role and set expectations for how you will work together as a team.

One of the most challenging aspects of making the transition from individual contributor to manager is establishing your authority while at the same time setting the tone for a collaborative working relationship. It’s a delicate balancing act, one that calls for establishing clear boundaries and also allowing an open and honest discussion about current realities and future possibilities. Setting the stage in this way is a vital first step, whether you are promoted from within your team or are new to the company.

Think back to when you first became a manager. How was it handled? Perhaps a company-wide announcement went out. Perhaps your boss introduced you to your new group. Then what happened? Did you meet with your team to clarify your new role, discuss current issues, and share your outlook for the future? No? Well, you’re not alone.

Of all the mistakes new managers can make, the biggest may be in assuming the position without first setting the stage for how the team will work together.

This was my biggest mistake and it caused no end of grief, for me and for my team. I was promoted from within the group. My boss made the announcement to my team and that was the end of that. It never occurred to me that I should meet with my team to talk about how things would change. (And boy, do things ever change!) I just assumed that they knew that I wasn’t “one of them” anymore.

What a mistake! My new role never took hold. My employees didn’t see me as their manager, a reality that came back to haunt me, especially when I had to make tough calls on policy or about performance issues. (Admittedly, much of my problems stemmed from my inability to assume a leadership role. My methods were often tentative and  inconsistent. I wanted to remain friends with my former peers and so I tiptoed—a lot. (I’ll address the challenge of managing former peers in a future blog post.)

If I could have my do-over, my first act would have been to hold a group meeting to talk about how things would change. Some of my talking points would be:

When Promoted From Within the Team

  • It’s important to talk about how things have changed so we can all make the adjustment.
  • There are some advantages to my being manager of this group: I’m familiar with the work and I know the people.
  • As manager, I’m expected to do things differently. I’ll have to make tough decisions. I may have to talk to you about your performance, and that may not be easy for either of us, because we’ve worked together as peers in the past.
  • I hope that my being manager of this group will be good for us and for the company. I look forward to our working together to create a team that we can be proud of.
  • If you have questions or concerns, we can discuss them now, or you can follow up with me later on.
  • Now, let’s discuss what’s on your mind regarding current issues and future opportunities. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts and ideas . . .

But what if you’re new to the company? You still need to set the stage as soon as you come on board. Here are some things you might cover in your meeting:

When New to the Team

  • It’s important to talk about how things have changed so we can all make the adjustment.
  • There are advantages and disadvantages to having been brought in as manager. As an outsider, I can take a fresh look at some of the issues. The downside is that I don’t know how things are done around here, but I’m willing to learn, and I hope I can rely on you to teach me the ropes.
  • As time goes on, we’ll figure out how we can best work together. You’ll get to know my style and I’ll get to know yours. Building relationships takes time, but I want you to know that I am committed to making this work.
  • I hope that my being manager of this group will be good for us and for the company. I look forward to our working together to create a team that we can be proud of.
  • If you have questions or concerns, we can discuss them now, or you can follow up with me later on.
  • Now, let’s discuss what’s on your mind regarding current issues and future opportunities. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts and ideas . . .

Even if you’ve been managing for a while and you haven’t held a stage-setting meeting, hold one now. You might begin with an apology for not doing it sooner, then fashion your message in your own style, covering the talking points above.

Until next time . . .

The Perils of Praise: How to Give Positive Feedback

As a manager, I handed out praise like candy to my employees. I thought it was the perfect way to make them feel better about themselves and make them want to work harder. Imagine my surprise when people’s responses didn’t match my expectations. I got no thanks for my candy handouts. In fact, most people seemed embarrassed and even a little suspicious by my praise.

Why? What was I doing wrong? Isn’t praise a good thing? Don’t people like to receive a pat on the back? Well, it turns out, they do, but it isn’t praise they’re looking for. They’re looking for something much more specific and meaningful. They’re looking for positive feedback, which is quite different from praise.

Praise is often experienced by the receiver as a negative thing: people can feel uncomfortable, skeptical, or even defensive. Heap praise on someone and they very well could be thinking:

“This is really embarrassing. I never know what to say in return.”

Or;

“I wonder what you want from me now.”

Praise is a vague statement that makes a positive judgment about a person, but contains very little information or any real meaning. Example: “You’re the best team member I have.” That statement is loaded with judgment, which can make us doubtful or even distrustful. There is no real information contained in the message, so there is nothing to grab onto as a way of building motivational steam.

Praise doesn’t work. But positive feedback does.

Positive feedback is a specific, non-judgmental statement about a person that contains concrete and meaningful information. Example: “You ran that team meeting really well: you encouraged open discussion, stuck to the agenda, and ended on time.” There is no judgment here, only a statement of fact. The message has some meat to it: the person knows exactly what he or she has done (and likely will do in the future). There should be no need for the receiver to wonder about ulterior motives. There should be no embarrassment by the receiver, unless the person is not used to receiving such feedback and doesn’t know how to respond. If so, tell the receiver that a simple “Thank you” is all that’s required.

So, put away the candy handouts and give positive feedback instead. Give it soon and often. Make it specific and concrete. Then watch what happens.

Until next time . . .

Your Baby is Ugly! Overcoming the Fear of Feedback, Part II

My last post dealt with receiving constructive feedback. Now let’s switch sides and deal with it from the giver’s perspective.

Do you know which form of feedback is most prevalent in many organizations today?

Silence.

We’re very good about saying nothing when someone messes up. And when we remain silent, the message we’re sending is loud and clear: Your behavior is fine just the way it is.

It’s not that we don’t know what to say or how to say it. If you Google “feedback,” all that you need to know will come pouring out of your computer. (Alas, in a moment, I’m going to add to the deluge!)

We know what we should do, but we still don’t do it. Why? I think it’s partly because we don’t want to inflict pain on others. (Remember, the message you are sending is that “your baby is ugly.”) But I also think it’s because managers are unskilled in this area. They just haven’t had enough practice to get better at it.

Giving feedback is a communication skill that can be developed through practice. First, my own two cents on feedback and then some ways in which you can start building your skills.

Definition: Constructive Feedback is information about a person’s performance or behavior intentionally delivered to that person to facilitate change or improvement.

Goal: To help the person understand and accept the impact of his or her behavior on self or others. It is not to change the person’s behavior or to give advice. Any behavior change is up to the recipient. In other words, feedback cannot be forced upon the person, it must be voluntarily accepted.

The Feedback Conversation: Here’s a 4-step process to help you structure your feedback conversation.

  1. Ask the person if it’s okay to give feedback. Remember that the purpose of constructive feedback is to help the person adjust behavior. If the person isn’t ready to hear the feedback, chances are, he or she won’t be ready to change. Asking also shows that you respect the person. “Can I share something with you? or; “Can I give you some feedback?” And what if the person says “no”? Well, maybe now really isn’t a good time to hear what you have to say. The person may be stressed or not feeling well and wouldn’t be receptive to what you have to say in any case. So, if the person says “no,” respect that. Say, “Okay, let’s talk later then.” Try again later, and if you still get a “no,” schedule a time to talk. Say, “I respect that now isn’t a good time. You tell me when we can meet.”
  2. Describe the specific behavior that you’ve observed or experienced, keeping all judgment out of it. Tell only what you saw or heard. “You’ve been late three times in the last two weeks.” One of the most challenging aspects of giving any kind of feedback is in describing the actual behavior without judging it. When you judge behavior you are putting your own label on it. Saying, “You seem really lazy” is a judgment call. Saying, “You’ve been late three times . . .” is a statement of fact.
  3. Impact: Say how the person’s behavior has affected you, the team, the organization, or even the person him/herself. “When you come in late, others have to cover for you in the call center and you miss the morning staff meetings.”
  4. Next Steps: Ask the person how he or she can fix the problem. Don’t offer a solution. If the person is stuck, offer to talk again later. Offer help only when warranted. “What can you do differently?” or (maybe); “What can you do about this and how can I help?”

Building Your Skills: Think about this. How did you learn how to print your name? To play the guitar? To dance? You practiced. You worked through drills and exercises. You got frustrated, you made mistakes. But you got better at it, right? You can get better at giving feedback too. Here’s how:

Do it early. Address the issue as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the person’s performance has slipped well below standard before speaking up. Providing immediate feedback:

  • Allows the person to quickly change course (delayed feedback may result in dealing with ingrained behaviors, which are much tougher to tackle).
  • Is more accurate, since you are both likely to remember the circumstance.
  • Reduces anxiety because you’re addressing the problem before it has gotten out of hand.

Do it often. Feedback should be a daily occurrence, a part of your normal routine. Your first conversations may not go so well, but don’t let that stop you. Keep at it until it becomes second nature to you. If you need to rehearse the conversation with someone you trust beforehand, do that.

Feedback really is the “breakfast of champions.” Don’t skip it.

Until next time . . .