Confrontation or Learning Experience? Delivering Feedback Effectively

18933836_sIn a previous Huffington Post article , I talked about why it isn’t good enough simply to say “good job” when you’re giving feedback. While it is important to acknowledge performance that is meeting or exceeding expectations, it is imperative to provide corrective feedback when things aren’t going as you’d like.

What happens when your team isn’t delivering as expected – when your expectations go unmet?

Can we just hope for it to change or go away? Not if we want to meet our business objectives without doing all the work ourselves.

Things don’t just change. If we aren’t telling people what they are specifically doing or not doing that is getting in the way of the results we want, nothing will change.

I know it can be uncomfortable. There are so many reasons why we don’t want to give people feedback- we don’t want to have conflict, we are worried what they will say or think, or we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.

Yet if we don’t … our team members (or vendors) can’t stop the behavior that is unproductive (or driving us crazy) and everyone ends up frustrated.

A Framework to Deliver Effective Feedback

A simple yet effective model for delivering corrective or constructve feedback effectively is the SBI framework:

  1. Describe the situation where the behavior was observed.
  2. Describe the behavior– be sure to include observable actions or interactions that are specific and factual.
  3. Describe the impact – the effect the behavior had on others, the work activity or results.

Here’s an example showing the SBI model in action:

Situation: Our project deadline was October 1, and we’ve now exceeded that initial date by two weeks.

Behavior: You haven’t provided us with the regular project updates that we originally agreed upon.

Impact: Regular updates are essential to the long-term success of this project, and our team depends on them. The rest of our project team is frustrated by a lack of timely, consistent updates. This lack of communication has led to other delays and is not conducive to good teamwork.

Remember that every situation will be different, but the primary goal is to describe the situation and behavior clearly, staying focused on the facts. Follow up with the impact the behavior had, and close with a question or two that encourages the person to consider what they might do differently going forward.

Ask the Right Questions

As part of the feedback process, asking the right questions can have a significant impact on the outcome. Follow the guidelines below so you know what to include – and what to avoid.

  1. Plan first. Instead of brazenly jumping into the process without thought, take a step back and plan out what you want to say. As you do this, you’ll be able to outline the questions you’ll ask as you deliver feedback.
  1. Make your questions open-ended. Questions that are open-ended often start with “who”, “what”, “how”, “where”, and “when”. Notice “why” was missing from that list…using “why” in an open-ended question as you’re delivering feedback can make the other person feel like they’re being judged.

For instance, instead of asking “Why did you do that?”, try “What was your objective behind doing that?” instead. This sounds less confrontational and accusatory.

  1. Stick to the facts. Avoid making personal judgments or criticisms. In other words, your goal should be focused on providing feedback about a behavior and the impact it had.

Don’t: “Why do you always rush through things? If you weren’t so hasty, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Do: I know you mentioned you have a lot on your plate right now. What would make it easier for you to focus more of your time on this task/activity?

  1. Change up the perspective. As you’re delivering feedback, use thought-provoking questions to guide the other party to see the situation from a fresh perspective.

For instance, if the other person blames the situation on a disagreement she had with a co-worker, direct your questions to help her consider a new perspective.

Instead of following along with the same line of thinking by saying something like, “I can’t believe she said that!”, try asking questions like “I understand where you’re     coming from. What do you think might have led her to say that?” or “What would need to happen for you and her to improve your relationship?”

  1. Involve the other person in the solution. The most effective feedback is a 2-way conversation. It is not your sole responsibility as the business leader to solve everything. Ask the person you are giving feedback to come up with a solution or alternative way of acting. Questions such as “how could you address this differently in the future?” or “what can you do to resolve this issue?” assist the other person in coming up with solutions that she or he can own and commit to.

Remember, knowing what questions to ask can significantly change the outcome of the feedback experience. Instead of the recipient seeing the feedback as a one-sided ambush, the process can actually represent a dynamic learning experience for both parties.

What tips do you have for delivering corrective feedback effectively?

Want to Conquer Time Poverty? Enter Your Genius Zone.

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

  • Time trap | time poverty | DeadlinesThere just aren’t enough hours in the day – you’re always stressed because you never seem to have ample time to accomplish everything.
  • You zip through your day, going from task to task, but when the day is over, it doesn’t feel like you got anything done at all.
  • Your burgeoning to-do list is nearly driving you insane.

If this sounds like you, you’re experiencing time poverty. What on earth is that?! When you’re in time poverty, you’re always rushing through life, but you’re definitely not running at your productive best.

Not surprisingly, entrepreneurs encounter time poverty all the time. Overcoming time poverty is an absolute must if you want to truly enjoy success in your business – and in life.

Here are three of my favorite tips to help you overcome time poverty and start getting things done productively:

Enter your genius zone.

ID-100294722When you’re working on the things that you’re passionate about, you’re operating in your genius zone. It’s your sweet spot – where you’re most likely to get stuff done – and do it well.

Time just flies by and you’re ultra-productive. Why? Because you’re doing what you were meant to do – what you’re good at. Now that you’re in your zone, stay there – and delegate everything else.

Don’t force yourself to work on tasks that you don’t like or aren’t very good at. These types of tasks will waste your time and siphon your energy. Don’t let that happen!

You may sit on to-do-lists for months, telling yourself you don’t have the time. Be honest – you don’t really want to do these tasks, do you? And that’s why you’ve avoided them.

Remember: Work in your genius zone and for everything else, delegate, delegate, delegate.

Recognize your distractions.

Everyone faces distractions – social media, email, phone calls and texts…even free offers from programs you’ve purchased.

Sure, it doesn’t seem like much to interrupt your work flow to spend five minutes answering a text or email – but those five minutes add up, and before you know it, you’re out of time and frustrated…again.

Start by identifying what it is that distracts you most often. Once you’ve done that, you can develop new habits that will help you overcome these distractions.

Listen to your inner voice.

What are you really telling yourself? Your outward condition is a result of what you’ve been thinking about in your mind. Meaning, if you keep telling yourself you don’t have any time, you’re going to create that experience in your life.

Does your inner voice sound something like this, “I don’t have time! There is no way I’m going to get all this done.” Or, does it sound more like, “I have enough time to accomplish everything I need.”? It’s pretty simple to identify which statement is the more positive one.

Try this easy technique the next time you find yourself saying, “I don’t have time to do this!” Replace that phrase with this one instead, “That’s not important to me right now.”

You’ll soon have a surplus of time you’re spending efficiently, because you’ll only be focusing on the things that are truly important to you.

If you put even one of these simple suggestions to work in your life, you’ll be well on your way to greater productivity and a thriving, profitable business.

For a more in-depth look at time poverty – and what you can do about it – visit the Huffington Post to read my latest article.

What are you doing to conquer time poverty? Which of these suggestions do you think is most useful?

The MOST Important Question You Can Ask

I recently read an article in Fast Company that shared the most important question to ask a new team member: “Describe a decision that the company has made that raises an eyebrow for you?”

I think it’s brilliant question – even if a little scary.

We spend a lot of time looking for and selecting talented people for our teams, whether they are full time employees, contract staff or virtual team members.

They come to us with a fresh perspective, aren’t hung up on the way “we” do things, and are pretty sharp (or else we wouldn’t have hired or contracted with them in the first place). So why not ask their opinion on what we are doing that just plain doesn’t work?

I know it’s a little scary. Being told what we aren’t doing well is a little disheartening, but it’s better to know than lose a team member (or a client for that matter). We get very comfy with how we do things, and perhaps need a reminder to stay sharp and focused.

Feedback

Why leave this question to just new employees?

You can ask a similar question to your current team members and even your clients, coach or mentor.

If you like to hear the good along with the bad, you can use the following approach to get a well-rounded view:

  1. What are we doing that isn’t effective, that we should STOP doing?
  2. What are we doing really well that we should CONTINUE doing?
  3. What aren’t we doing, that if we START doing would make us even more effective?

When I did a similar exercise I received some great feedback that will definitely help me be more effective as a CEO and business owner. Since I won’t ask you to do something I haven’t already done, here is some of the feedback I received:

  • My perfectionism causes me to be a huge bottleneck for my team being able to complete their tasks on time
  • I believe “diamonds are made under pressure” but not everyone else does. Waiting to the last minute affects my teams productivity and sanity (and my check book)
  • Even though I help my clients create systems for their business, my own systems need to be documented in a way that others can manage them (and I can better delegate them)
  • I need better scheduling and invoicing processes for my clients

Confession time: some of these are the same things that drove my staff crazy when I worked in the corporate world (ouch!). While I’ve made some progress I still have some work to do. On the plus side, all of this is fixable (some easier to fix than others), within my control, and will lead to a better team member and client experience.

Give this a try and see what type of feedback you receive. I’d love to hear about it so please share in the comments how it went.

Is Stinking Thinking Showing Up In Your Bank Balance?

 “Who do you think you are?”

“Who is going to work with you?”

“Why do you even bother calling, they are going to say NO”

“You just don’t have what it takes”

Would you say that to a close friend or colleague? Probably not, in fact, you probably wouldn’t even say those things to a stranger. Yet, it is not uncommon for business owners to have that conversation with themselves. You know, that little voice that reaches in from the sidelines. It’s that inner voice of doubt, pessimism and fear that plagues our wildest dreams. It’s the soft cynicism that appears in the moments of true inspiration.

Call it your Inner Critic, Gremlin, Demon, Saboteur, or Bully. The fact is, it is there, telling you that you are not good enough. This “stinking thinking” keeps you playing small. The more you listen to it, the smaller you play. The smaller you play, the less people you meet, the less calls you make, the less people you serve, the less revenue you create.

Whatever you choose to call it, that little voice in our head impacts our thoughts, which influence the actions we take, or don’t take and ultimately our bank balance.  I want to share a simple process to address it, to quite it down, so you can move forward.

STOP and observe when and where the saboteurs are showing up, maybe it’s when you are following up with potential clients, or when you talk with a “competitor”. Tune into the conversation you are having with yourself.

CHALLENGE the beliefs and thoughts that are keeping you for acting.

  • What am I telling myself about this event, person or situation?
  • What evidence do I have that this is true?
  • What are other possible interpretations?

CHOOSE a new belief that is more empowering, more connected to your goals and take action.

Below you will find a letter to my inner critic. I’d love to hear how you have (or have not) defeated your inner critic. Leave a comment and share with me your tips!

Well, old friend. Thank you for being there when I needed you. Thank you for protecting me from the hurt and disappointments that certainly would have occurred if I had taken risks and not listened to you. It felt so safe and cozy staying in my little cocoon. No challenges, risk taking or failing. Of course, since there were none of those, there was also very little success.

The thought of success is sweet and tempting, like stealing away in the night to meet a long lost lover. But since your love for me is so deep, I stayed locked up in the comfy confines of my home only reading about the excitement and fun that I so desperately craved.

When will it be my turn?” I wondered. Alas, it is time to break free.

I am bored in this tiny, cocoon of a home. I want the excitement, fun and fulfillment that others seem to experience.

“Oh, but you’ll never make it,” you say. “You are not smart enough, creative enough or talented enough to make it out there on your own. You will be disappointed and hurt.”

You have filled my head and heart with fear and worry. Too afraid to be open and vulnerable; I need and want to experience that which you have so sheltered me from. It is my time.

There is a saying that if you love something, set it free. So today, I set you free. By doing so I free myself. Please, don’t be sad and let’s not pout. You will always be there and I appreciate your constant attention, but I really must do this on my own. Feel free to check in and in time, perhaps you can change the song you whisper in my ear. How I long to hear a different song that moves me closer to success. Could you do that for me? Would you?

For now, I must say goodbye. A new day is waiting for me and I cannot let it down.

All my love,
Kim (aka Kim Possible)