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Fed up with feedback?

Feedback? what comes to mind when you hear that word? BOHICA? Bend Over Here it Comes Again!?  In many organisations feedback is just a moderately polite way of beating someone up, or a way of making you feel you have ‘done your job’ and ‘sorted someone out’ – as you SHOULD as a manager.  But it doesn’t have to be like that……

This blog post was inspired by Sarah Williams and Lis Geake and their comments on my last posting about ‘yes but…’

Lis’s very precise take on feedback (I’m choosing my words carefully here as I know she’ll be checking this!) “It would be a lot easier to avoid ‘yes but’ if people giving praise focused on specifics. “You did great work” isn’t half as much use as “The errors you corrected in my presentation have saved me a lot of time and saved my blushes”. It’s much harder to say ‘but’ after specific praise, which pops up in childcare books but is just as worth doing for adults. Should I be bold and share this thought on Caroline’s blog? Maybe, but…”

Apart from being making me laugh, she’s right of course!specific feedback

Some key tips for giving feedback:

  • be sincere – if people detect you don’t mean it they will lose trust in you
  • know why you are giving it – do you genuinely intend it to help them improve their performance or boost their morale, or just to cover your back?
  • adopt the ‘Dutch’ belief about feedback – how can someone act on something if they don’t know about it?  rather than the British approach that it’s either  i) a cruel and heartless thing to do and should only be used in extremis (if negative) or  ii) a very unBritish expression of emotion and they should just know I think it’s good (when positive)
  • a useful formula for being specific is ‘AID’ – what was the ACTION, what was the IMPACT, what could they DO more of/do differently or DEVELOP

What are your top tips for effective feedback? share your thoughts here or on my Facebook page: CarolineTalbottLtd Facebook

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Get those monkeys off your back!

November 4, 2011 4 comments

“As he spoke I saw the monkeys coming towards me.  As they climbed up on my shoulders I peeled them off one by one and passed them on.  In the past I wouldn’t even have seen them coming!”  What a brilliant metaphor for learning to delegate!  This is what one of my coachees told me recently.  For years she had happily accepted every meeting invitation, volunteered for every action point until she realised she really could not carry on taking responsibility for other people’s ‘monkeys’* and that she had to delegate if she was not going to collapse under their weight.

So how did she do it?  A change in her beliefs.  In my opinion the real key to delegation – top tips and guidance are all very well but unless you examine your beliefs and assumptions about taking responsibility and delegating you will never do it successfully and feel comfortable about it.

She realised that she did not have to accept every invitation that came her way – that it was OK not to always be a ‘dog’ ie an enthusiastic puppy eternally bounding excitedly on to every bone thrown to her.  And in doing so she was actually giving others the opportunity to shine and learn new skills.  It was not being lazy and irresponsible to pass things on.  Now she orchestrates and delegates rather than running herself ragged doing everything herself.

So what unhelpful beliefs or assumptions do YOU have that are stopping you delegating?  Might it beDelegation

  • “I don’t have time.  By the time I’ve explained it I may as well do it myself”
  • “It won’t get done properly/on time”
  • “It’s my responsibility”
  • “I’ll look as if I’m shirking if I don’t do it.  People will think I’m lazy”
  • “I need to do it myself to show the team I’m supporting them”

Develop some more helpful ones instead:

  • “Actually this is what management is all about”
  • “It may take longer in the short term but it’ll save me time in the long run”
  • “This will develop some useful skills and experience in the team”
  • “It’ll really motivate Joe if I make him responsible for this”
  • “My job is to help the team by seeing the bigger picture and sorting things out properly, not continually firefighting”

Then you can use those helpful hints and tips to actually do it!  And remember you ARE still ultimately responsible – another  manager I worked with knew one of her team was not doing what she should have been, did not do anything about it,  and cost them both their jobs.

What’s been the successful ingredient for your delegation – or what’s stopping you?

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* Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey? by William Oncken Jr and Donald L Wass (1974)  Harvard Business Review

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