Don’t serve a feedback sandwich: how to give constructive feedback in a more palatable way

Don’t serve a feedback sandwich: how to give constructive feedback in a more palatable way

Have you heard of the “feedback sandwich” or “compliment sandwich” approach?

This is feedback-giving advice that some people still dole out. And some people still practice.

And I hope (very much!) that after reading this post, you will not use it, ever again.

In this blog post, I’ll first describe what the feedback sandwich is, and why its proponents think it’s a good idea. I’ll then describe what’s wrong with it and what to do instead.

Read More

How leaders can create a culture of candor and upward feedback: advice from 3 TalentGrow Show podcast guests

How leaders can create a culture of candor and upward feedback: advice from 3 TalentGrow Show podcast guests

The topic of feedback comes up in many of my conversations with my own clients, and it has also been a topic of conversation on my podcast, the TalentGrow Show. We frequently talk about how to give feedback, but are you also encouraging upward feedback from those whom you lead and manage? In this blog post, three podcast guests share some concerns about why you might not be getting all the feedback you need and actionable advice for changing that reality to ensure you are preventing blind-spots and creating a culture of candor and upward feedback.

Read More

Asking your boss for feedback? Here are some Dos and Don'ts to keep in mind

Asking your boss for feedback? Here are some Dos and Don'ts to keep in mind

It might seem scary to ask your boss how you’re doing at your job—especially if you’re the kind of person who responds emotionally to criticism or breaks out in hives at the thought of it. But the experts agree: regularly asking for feedback is the easiest way for you to improve at your job, and get a clear understanding of what value you’re providing. You just need to know a few tricks of the trade to make sure you’re maximizing the ask—and timing it well. Here, we break down the dos and don’ts. By author: Corie Hengst, levo.com

[I was interviewed for this article, which originally appeared on levo.com and is re-posted here with permission. ~Halelly]

Read More

The Top 10 Conversations Every Leader Should Have with Every Employee

The Top 10 Conversations Every Leader Should Have with Every Employee

Last week I visited sunny Ft. Lauderdale to speak at a financial services association’s conference about how to radically transform the way in which we do performance appraisals. The number one tip of the 5 best practices for a better performance management approach I shared with the audience is this: Make performance feedback an ongoing and informal practice. Ongoing, regular, and timely conversations with employees about performance, goals, career, and feedback contribute tremendously to their current and future level of performance and engagement at work. Here are my top 10 types of conversations that I think every leader should be having with every employee throughout each year:

Read More

Do you have the right mindset for effective feedback?

Do you have the right mindset for effective feedback?

Giving and receiving feedback can sometimes backfire - we've all experienced it. One of the 'tricks' to giving and receiving feedback effectively starts BEFORE you even open your mouth or begin the conversation: it starts with your mindset and the context of the relationship between the feedback conversation partners. In my latest vlog (video blog), I help you recognize both the right mindset and the proper context for giving feedback in a way that's better received.

Read More

The "STS Formula" for giving positive feedback and appreciation

Thankful!.jpg

It was very nice to see TalentGrow's annual gift featured in this guest post on WordOfMouth.org by our friend and colleague Jeremy Epstein, VP of Marketing and Social Navigator at Sprinklr. It just shows that when you give thoughtful, meaningful, authentic gifts, it really resonates with the people who receive them.

The same is true with positive recognition and appreciation; in my opinion, it is the most influential tool in any leader's toolkit. When you say "thank you" or "job well-done" to a staff member, peer, supervisor, client, associate or friend, it has a lasting positive effect, often with a multiplier effect rippling off of it.

Let's face it: NO ONE has ever felt TOO appreciated. Period.

Halelly's "STS Formula" for positive feedback and appreciation

Here's the simple formula that is guaranteed to work to make people feel truly appreciated:

  1. Be Specific. Describe in as much detail as possible WHAT you appreciated and WHY.While "Thank you" and "Good job" are way better than nothing, they don't really describe the behavior you appreciated and want to recognize. Here's a little secret: what gets appreciated, gets repeated. Don't you want to let the person know what behavior to repeat?
  2. Be Timely. Articulate your appreciation (whether orally or in writing) as closely to the occurrence of the appreciated behavior as possible. Otherwise, not only will the person possibly forget what they did, but they may not feel your appreciation is as authentic or heart-felt as it should be. I mean, "thank you so much for helping me that time two months ago" just doesn't have as much of a positive impact as "thanks for your help yesterday" does.
  3. Be sincere. People can read (and smell) 'fake' from a mile away. Humans are astute observers of nuanced body language signals that convey incongruence. And, when faced with a mismatch between the words and the way they were conveyed, we almost always trust the visual and vocal cues as the 'true message'. If you're giving appreciation as a 'management technique' or because you 'have to', not because you're truly appreciative, the receiver will pick this up and your positive feedback will have the OPPOSITE effect - it will create distrust and disgruntlement. The bottom line: if you can't find a way to sincerely feel thankful, it's best you don't give thanks. 

Take the "STS Challenge"

In the next week, look for opportunities to 'catch' people doing things right, and for things you can appreciate about them, and provide Specific, Timely, and Sincere appreciation. It can be as simple as a spoken appreciation face-to-face or by phone, a thank you card, or a symbolic gift. Then, come back and report about your experience and reactions in the comments below. I can't wait to hear about it!

Image: my modification of a photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Claudio.Ar


Sign up to my free weekly newsletter and get more actionable tips and ideas for making yourself a better leader and a more effective communicator! It’s very short and relevant with quick tips, links, and news about leadership, communication, and self-development. Sign up now!

Also, subscribe to my podcast, The TalentGrow Show, on iTunes to always be the first in the know about new episodes of The TalentGrow Show! http://apple.co/1NiWyZo

You Might Also Like These Posts:

[Vlog]: 10 conversations every leader should have with every employee

The Top 10 Conversations Every Leader Should Have with Every Employee

The 3 Secrets of Motivating and Inspiring Others

7 Tips for Building Mentoring to Develop Employees and Raise Engagement

No One is Ever 'Always' or 'Never'

Never by Olivier H.jpg

Here's a quick tip for you: No one is ever 'always' or 'never' __________ (fill in the blank with an adjective or verb).

One of the most sure-fire ways to make a difficult conversation instantly more difficult is to use a superlative  like 'always' or 'never' to describe the other person's behavior. It is guaranteed to make the conversation partner instantly defensive and offend their sense of justice, because it's probably certain to be a false statement. It's impossible for any human to be 100% consistent in any behavior or approach, positive or negative. And we have a natural need to establish fairness and justice, so the moment someone describes us in this generalized way, we immediately begin to search our memory for contrary examples to prove it is a falsehood.

If you're trying to give feedback, or resolve conflict, the conversation is hard enough to have in the first place - why add difficulty? The person who is now preoccupied with proving you wrong is no longer listening to you or open to hearing your side of things. You've damaged your credibility in their eyes. You've taken them on a detour and now you must dig back from that detour to get back on track. A waste of time for all involved!

Therefore, be very careful to stay specific and factually correct. Instead of saying, "Pat, you're always late with your reports", say, "Pat, you turned in the last three reports late." Keep it objective and keep it constructive.

Have you had any experience with this kind of derailment or escalation? I'd love to learn about it in the comments section below!

Photo by Olivier H. via Flickr Creative Commons


Sign up to my free weekly newsletter and get more actionable tips and ideas for making yourself a better leader and a more effective communicator! It’s very short and relevant with quick tips, links, and news about leadership, communication, and self-development. Sign up now

Also, subscribe to my podcast, The TalentGrow Show, on iTunes to always be the first in the know about new episodes of The TalentGrow Show! http://apple.co/1NiWyZo 

You Might Also Like These Posts:

How to REALLY Listen: Reduce Conflict by Staying Low on the Ladder of Inference

The common mistake we make during critical conversations and how to avoid it

Intention + interest + practice = communication success

To Micromanage or Not to Micromanage? A Lesson From Goldilocks

Goldilocks by Krystn Palmer Photography.jpg

You've seen it done: the manager hovers over the employee's work, breathing down her neck, and giving her specific, detailed, over-controlling instructions and corrections. It's every employee's nightmare: the Micromanaging Manager.

Or is it?

Defining Micromanagement

Let's take a closer look at this concept we call Micromanagement. According to Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, micromanagement is "manage[ment] especially with excessive control or attention on details". Dictionary.comdefines micromanagement as "manage[ment] or control with excessive attention to minor details".

Key word: EXCESSIVE.

Employee Development and Management Style

When I work with managers and supervisors on improving their management and leadership skills, one of the theories they find very enlightening is Ken Blanchard's time-tested Situational Leadership. In a nutshell, Situational Leadership says that there is no 'one-size-fits-all' way to manage employees. Rather, managers should always gauge the employee's (or team's) level of competence and commitment as related to a specific task or goal to identify the best-fit management style for them.

Some employees are highly-skilled and self-motivated to complete a task autonomously. They need little input and guidance from their manager for that task. Other employees are new to the organization, team, or task and are still facing the steep initial learning curve. They are not yet highly-skilled and usually feel unsure or apprehensive about their ability to succeed with a particular task or goal. These employees need lots of clear, specific instructions from their leader. They benefit from frequent follow-up conversations and feedback touch-points because they feel supported and guided in their first tentative steps on a new task or project.

Very briefly, the key take-away is that different employees need differing levels of controls and guidance. What might be excessive controls for one employee may be totally appropriate for another. Therefore, the very behaviors that exemplify the much-hated 'Micromanagement' and irritate seasoned employees are the Good Manager behaviors for new employees or for employees approaching unfamiliar tasks.

So I propose that we need to be more careful in throwing that term around.

Does Office Layout Contribute to Micromanagement Behaviors?

In addition to a tendency to be overly consistent in management style (instead of tailoring it to the employee's development level and needs), there are other traps and obstacles that may contribute to a manager applying excessive controls or attention to minor details that are environmental in nature.

Some organizations arrange employees and managers in open floor plans or in modular cubicles where managers and staff are sitting together. This is great for open communication and transparency, but can be a trap for those managers with a tendency to over-control. Managers who sit among their staff are more likely to hear how employees go about doing their work, overhear their conversations, and be the target for frequent questions and requests for input and advice.

My colleague Howard Walper recently described this very challenge to me. "Since I sit in an open-floor area with my direct reports, I notice how easily I can get 'in-the-weeds' and immersed in the tactical, day-to-day details of the work with which I entrust them" says Walper, a Senior Manager of Conferences for a publishing company in Houston, Texas. "I have to consciously resist the urge to allow my 'present-presence' affect my ability to lead strategically and let staff do their work independently. I have to resist hovering and doting and let them learn and solve problems on their own, serving as a go-to resource when they need me rather than flying in and 'saving' them from thinking through challenges."

Resist the Urge to Hover; Apply Appropriate Management Style

The bottom line for any manager is: the urge to micromanage is natural. In some cases, the behavior your intuition guides you to use is actually totally appropriate and should not be considered micromanagement. In many cases, however, it is an urge you must overcome and control if you want employees to be independent, critical-thinking, high performing team members. Too much hovering will create resentful automatons at best, and an exodus from your department/team at worst. Apply the lessons of Situational Leadership and be sure to treat employees just like Goldilocks wanted to have it: just right. Give them what their current commitment and competency level calls for; no more and no less.

Have you experienced micromanagement as a manager or an employee? What are your thoughts about it? I'd love to hear them - please comment below!  

Photo by Krystn Palmer Photography via Flickr Creative Commons


Sign up to my free weekly newsletter and get more actionable tips and ideas for making yourself a better leader and a more effective communicator! It’s very short and relevant with quick tips, links, and news about leadership, communication, and self-development. Sign up now

Also, subscribe to my podcast, The TalentGrow Show, on iTunes to always be the first in the know about new episodes of The TalentGrow Show! http://apple.co/1NiWyZo 

You Might Also Like These Posts:

5 Steps to Delegating Right and Reducing Your Stress

Are You Infected with the Responsibility Virus?

Don't Try This at Home: When Leading by Example Backfires