4 Reasons Your Feedback is Being Ignored

The number one frustration I hear from team leaders is that their feedback falls on deaf ears. The employee seems to get it–for a minute, and then they go right back to their old habits.

So they give the same feedback again, this time “louder” either literally, or through progressive discipline, or sadly sometimes threats or biting sarcasm.

Sure, there are some folks out there “you just can’t fix,” but frequently that’s not the real issue.

4 Reasobuilderns Your Feedback is Being Ignored

When I turn the tables and ask the employees why the behavior continues, here’s what they tell me.

  1. The Feedback Flood Factor
    “I’m trying to do better, I really am. But it’s all just too much. Every time we meet, he’s giving me something else to work on. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get it right, so I’ve learned to just block him out and do the best I can.” If you want real change, isolate one behavior at a time.
  2. The “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” Factor
    “My boss keeps telling me my customer courtesy credits are too high– that I’m costing the business too much money. So I really worked on that for a while. But then, I found my customers started to ask to speak to my supervisor. And guess, what? She always gave them the credit! She looks like the hero, and the credit she gives them goes against my numbers and I still end up on progressive action.” If you want your employees to hear your feedback, be sure you’re following your own standards. If there are reasons you make exceptions, be sure you clearly differentiate and explain the thought process, so they can follow consistent parameters.
  3. The “I Don’t Know How” Factor
    “My manager says I need to be more strategic. That sounds awesome. I’m all for that. But what does that mean? How do I do that?” Be sure your feedback is specific and actionable. Explain what success looks like in terms of specific behaviors.
  4. The “I Disagree” Factor
    “My supervisor keeps asking me to do this, but I just don’t think it’s right. It’s going to have a negative impact on MY customers. I’ve tried to explain my concerns, but she just keeps citing policy, and that this decision is ‘above my pay grade.’ ” Sure, we all have to implement policies we may not agree with, the important factor here is to really listen to the concerns and explain why. Just shutting down the conversation MAY lead to compliance, but not always. And it certainly won’t lead to commitment.

Most employees want to do a good job. If your feedback is being ignored, dig deeper to get to root cause.

stuck in the middle with you

Stuck in the Middle With You

The other day I got the kind of feedback that kicks you in the gut and makes your brain hurt for days. I’m sure you know the kind, it stings with truth, but you’ve got a gazillion counter points you would never say out loud, for fear of appearing to not be listening. It’s from an amazing leader who worked on my team for several years, and is a regular reader of LGL.

This is a long one, so for those of you who prefer a musical soundtrack with your pondering, click here.

She writes:

One area of frustration for me in business is much like my frustration in the collection and recording of history down through time, and that is the winners make the history, it’s from their perspective and rarely is it all-inclusive of the realities of the time. Many leaders go through their career (certainly once they get to a higher level) believing that their station or title in their company validates that their perspective is somehow best, or more insightful. These leaders don’t leverage the best from their people or their organizations, and the idea that they understand how their employees feel is somewhat silly. To me your book represents a leader saying why and how I should relate to them, excuse them, allow for and understand their human nature.

That’s where the disconnect was for me, at what point do leaders really need to understand, and act on how their behaviors, their decisions affect the masses below them? In short I want leaders to improve, have better sight, understand and truly grow about those in their care. I want leaders to see more than market share, and stack ranks. I want leaders to see and appreciate intention, effort and of course results. But more over I want leaders to be real with me, and I want them to strive as hard to understand me as I strive to understand them. In doing this leaders improve the lives and careers of their employees.

Karin I think you are a great leader and I will admit I expect a lot from you, to that end the brilliance I’ve seen in your past writing and have referenced and yes even bragged about to others simply was not here for me. Frankly this seemed safe, when what all leaders really need (throughout their careers) is to be grabbed by the shoulders and shaken from time to time and forced to remember from whence they came, to understand the politics of our world are their making, and thusly they have the power to unmake it. Knowing that leaders in business buy and read this type of book, I feel you have the knowledge and credibility to improve them in their view down their chain of command as opposed to another attempt to give line employees better understanding of how and why their bosses do what they do so they can advance.

The gist of the issue: Hey, whose side are you on here? The imperfect bosses or the people?
The short answer is: Yes.

You see, I’ve been running around talking to every podcast, radio station, or media outlet sharing my opinion that your boss is just an imperfect human being doing the best she can, just like you. I’ve been firing people up and empowering them with practical tools and advice for advancing their career, even if their boss is a jerk. I believe strongly that helping people defend themselves against an imperfect system and regaining their power is vital.

And I’ve also seen the other side. I do agree there are leaders who need to be “grabbed by the shoulders and shaken from time to time.” I can’t stand the arrogance and abused power. I hate it when leaders forget about the human beings they’ve been entrusted to support. I worry about a system that over-grooms their leaders and the cycle of intimidation continues. I cringe when leaders are too busy to understand their impact.

The question on the table: Am I cutting the leaders too much slack?
The longer answer is: Yes and no.

We’re All Stuck In The Middle of Something

Sure the system is imperfect. People are imperfect. There are good guys and bad guys at every level. I’ve learned a heck of a lot about getting unstuck on both sides of the equation. I must help, and will do everything in my power to help you, them, and the guys in the middle.

We must work together to create the conversation that will build better organizations through meaningful visions, great cultures, and brilliant execution. Such results come from imperfect, inspired people who care for the big picture – at every level.

I’m not ready to pick a side. The best good I can do is right here, stuck in the middle – with you.

Interviewing? 4 Ways to Set Yourself Apart

It takes more than qualifications to get the job. Don’t count on your track record. In a close race, best prepared wins.

Two candidates were interviewing for a District Sales Manager position. Both had great backgrounds and qualifications. Both nailed the Behavior Based Interview, and we moved on to talk about their planned approach.

Joe (not his real name) came with his generic 90 day strategy. It was as if he had read Michael Watkin’s Book, The First 90 Days,* and copied the generic advice into his plan. His key actions looked like that of so many other candidates. Part of Joe’s plan was to visit every store in his territory in the first 30 days. Yawn.

*p.s I love Watkin’s book. It’s a great read when applied well.

Before her interview, Jane (not her real name), took 2 days off and visited all the stores in the new territory (across a 200 mile radius) in plain clothes. She came prepared with a list of observations, priorities, a platform for improvement, and a robust plan to begin tackling the issues in the first 30 days. She nailed the interview.

Jane’s now knocking that job out of the park.

A Deeper Approach to Interviewing

When interviewing, don’t bring generic plans. Do your homework. Go learn something deeper to discuss.

1. An Understanding of the Business

Talk to people. Arrange advanced visits if you can. Determine who is best-in-class. Understand the current priorities. Use real data to share specifics for your strategy. Come with informed questions. How far you can go with this will depend on whether you are interviewing internally or externally. However, you may be surprised how much data you can find in either circumstance. You can gain much from a solid google search.

2. A Platform

Just like a political candidate, be prepared to share your vision for this role. What is the one big thing you will accomplish? Share why you are passionate about your vision. Articulate the unique aspects of your leadership.

3. Your Angle

Describe your key skills and abilities and how they will benefit this organization. Make connections between unrelated roles. Describe how your diverse experience has built transferable skills perfect for this position.

4. Your Track Record

Come prepared with specific results and deliberate stories that highlight your leadership. Don’t just share your stack rankings(a common approach), share how you achieved them.

Frontline Festival-April 2013: Feedback and Coaching Edition

This month’s Frontline Festival is all about Feedback and Coaching. I am delighted by the outpouring of submissions. It’s an amazing line-up.

Courageous Feedback

Lolly Daskal, encourages us to take some risks in giving feedback in her post, We Need a Courageous Conversation “In most organizations, and in our relationships, we’re all so busy being polite with everyone that we’re either not aware of the breakdown, afraid of the breakdown, or avoiding it altogether. We kid ourselves into thinking that if we don’t deal with it, maybe it will go away. When we fail to engage and say what we honestly think and feel, our business performance will suffer. When what “goes unsaid” is not being said, our relationships will fail.” She offers, 10 approaches, my favorite is number 7. 

Blair Glesser takes a different stance in, Honestly Speaking, encouraging us to think well about if, when, and how we should offer feedback. She concludes, “Often the whole issue of whether or not to be honest dissipates when you tune in and connect with your heart. Your heart knows exactly what needs to be said and when, and it never is about the shallow stuff. Its feedback is always geared to bring more love to yourself, your loved ones and the world.”

Susan Mazza wins the prize for the post that made me cry (I won’t tell you why, just read it). In The Ultimate Source of Empowerment “People always have a choice even if they do not see that they do. A critical role of every leader is to bring people to choice.”

Encouraging Feedback

Dan McCarthy gives fantastic advice on encouraging feedback in, 10 Ways to Get More Feedback (and 5 Ways if You Can’t Really Handle the Truth). The best part is the 5 Ways to protect yourself against unwanted feedback. “I once had a VP tell me “I hate feedback”. I had to admire his honesty. Actually, a lot of us do, we just won’t admit it. So, if you really don’t want to find out about your weaknesses, and would prefer to keep your head blissfully buried in the sand, then use any or all of these 5 methods.” Perhaps you know someone who needs this post.

David Dye shares 6 practical ways to encourage more feedback from your team in his post, 6 Ways to Not Walk Naked Down the Street.  I can’t help but wonder what search terms brought folks to that title 😉 The best point, “It may take time, but if you begin asking for the truth, showing gratitude for input, and responding to it, you will earn trust, gain credibility, and have the information you need to make the best decisions.”

In her post, What it Means for Leaders to Show Up, Wendy Appel explains that encouraging feedback starts with how we “show up.” Ask yourself,” how do I show up?” Am I present? Do people feel and experience my availability to be there for them or am I distracted, on to the next thing, focused on what I want to say; the point I want to make, forcing an outcome I think is best?” I like this one because it’s advice packaged for daily use.

Robyn McLeod. of Chatsworth Consulting asks Are You Getting Honest Feedback? And then, offers 4 Ways to ensure you receive it. “To get the feedback you need, you have to encourage and invite feedback from others so they know it is OK to be honest with you. This ASK FOR IT model offers tips on how to do that”

Coaching

Dan Rockwell shares 3 reasons you need a “coach” in 5 Sure Fire Ways to Spot a Great Coach, and then teaches us how to know one when we see one. Great, practical advice. A must read. My favorite, “Your ideas seem right because they’re yours – you need tough questions.” Dan’s got good ones.

I love this practical post from Jennifer Miller, Should You Give Advice or Coach?  “Giving advice is saying what you would do. It makes the conversation about you. Coaching helps people decide what they are going to do which is a far more powerful outcome.” The best part, she tells us how to do it.

Brian Smith shares Leadership Lessons: When Mistakes are Made Create a Teachable Moment. Although I might debate his reference to a roast beef sandwich as a healthy choice, his metaphor works. The best point, “You need to be able to separate the act (What the person did) from the person they are. (You’re OK; it’s what you did that isn’t.)”

“Being a good coach means putting others before yourself and always making decisions for the good of the team.” Here are a few tips from Tom Walter in his post, How to Be a Good Coach: Tips for Employee Focused Leaders. Some practical, easy to apply principles for front line leaders.

 How to Give Feedback

In his post, Give Frequent and Useful Feedback, Wally Bock advocates for frequent feedback. “Problems are like dinosaurs. They’re easy to kill when they’re small. But if you let them grow up they can eat you.” Don’t make feedback a once-a-year event. Make it frequent. Don’t make it an ego trip. Make it helpful.

Eric Dingler shares How to Make Feedback a G.I.F.T. by making it Genuine, Immediate, Friendly and Tailored. You’ve got to read his list of very practical suggestions. Eric’s posts are always actionable. His approach works.

Jon Mertz shares a sentiment I am considering painting on my office door, “Life is too short for unproductive drama and spoiled relationship,” in his post Go Hard on the Issue, Soft on the Person: 5 Leadership Ideas. He shares 5 practical tips to make that happen.

Jonathan Green, AKA Monster Leader, shares how to coach to REALLY tough conversations in his post, Dude You Stink: Coaching to Odor Issues. I know this guy. If you had to have anyone tell you that you smell, you would want it to be him.

This one’s fun and powerful. Ted Guloien of MU Field Management Research shares Giving Performance Feedback on American Idol. My favorite point,  “Concentrate on and attend to the other person, and not so much on your own feelings, fears or anxieties about providing feedback.”

Alli Polin explains why we all hate performance reviews in her post, Performance Reviews Don’t Have to Suck.  My favorite thought, “They suck because they’re more about process than the person.” Often true. Alli shows how you can do it better.

Feedback doesn’t work in shallow relationships. Joseph LaLonde explains that it starts with building real communication in his post, The Power of Real Communication. “It involves taking the time to get to know the employees. Finding out their dreams and passions. If things are going well at work. If their job is still fulfilling.”

Recognition as Feedback

Tanveer Naseer asks Are You Following These 3 Rules For Giving Feedback? He also shares the how to use the recognition more strategically as feedback. My favorite line, “feedback should make you hungry to achieve more.” Let it be so.

Greg Richardson highlights the importance of substantive recognition as a feedback strategy in his post, On Recognition.  The best point, foster peer recognition, “Receiving tangible recognition from a peer can be much more meaningful for many people than anything a manager can say.”

Personal Feedback

Peter Friedes shares an activity and an opportunity for a free assessment to help work with your blind spot in, Find Your Blind Spot: A Self-Reflection Activity For Managers

Jesse Lynn Stoner, asks a vital question in her post, Are You a Team in Name Only? “Do you really want a team?” A great example of feedback using provocative questions. Ask tough questions gets to root cause.

In his post, Start With the End in Mind, Mark Miller encourages us to look 30 years out to plan for success in 5 key areas of our lives (he’s also looking or a clean “F” word that means influence if you have any suggestions). He suggests you spend an 8 hour day planning (and giving yourself feedback) on how you’re doing in each of these areas as you make your plan. 

Chery Cegelman writes  Leaders are You a Candle or a Beacon? She encourages us to be in a constant state of self-feedback, “As you think through the meetings you have scheduled this week. Do you need to be a candle or a beacon?”

Next month’s Frontline Festival’s Topic is Trust and Transparency. Submissions due May 10th. The Festival will go live May 17th.

5 Indications the Feedback is Not About You

Have you ever received frustrating feedback? Have you ever wanted to shout, “are you freaking serious?” “Have you looked at the impact YOU are making?” “I don’t want to roll like you.”

How do you know if the feedback is frustrating because it’s wrong or because it’s exposing a sensitive blind spot. What if it comes from your boss? It’s VERY TRICKY.

There’s usually a degree of truth worth exploring.

Start With Thank You

I always start with, “thank you.” And then decide. It never does any good to get defensive. You do not want to develop a reputation as “not being able to take feedback” (a sure way to take yourself off the succession planning “grid.”)

Here’s a line I’ve used (albeit VERY sparingly).

“I’ve heard you, I’ve thought about it for 3 weeks. I’ve gathered some additional feedback and although I appreciate your perspective, this is why I can’t change this behavior and why.”

I’ve also had a direct report say something like the above to me. I deeply respect that choice (warning not everyone will and had it been a different guy, in a different circumstance not sure how I would have reacted).

Be sure you’ve thought well. Some feedback that ticked me off early in my career turned out to be 79.6% correct

Of course, every now and then, feedback is not about you but about them.

How do you know?

“It’s Not About You” Feedback Indicators

  1. The feedback-giver is insecure and uncomfortable (warning, there could still be stuff to learn)
  2. The feedback is inconsistent with all other sources (ahh, but perhaps they have a different perspective)
  3. You have other signs that they don’t have your best interest at heart (are you sure?)
  4. You aren’t in the right job, but they are trying to mold you in (oops, this is about you, but the feedback will feel wrong find a more aligned job)
  5. Okay, the guy’s just a jerk (sometimes that’s true)
  6. ? What would you add?

How to Transform Mid-Team

The best time to transform to a radically new leadership style is when you start fresh with a new team. But that’s not always practical or feasible.

You’ve been reading blogs, books, and maybe attended a course or got some 360 feedback, but your team doesn’t know all of that. If you transform your style now, what will they think? If you suddenly start asking questions instead of tellingrecognizing their wins, or take a sudden interest in their personal life, will they trust you?

If the transformation is dramatic, your teams may be shocked at best and at least skeptical. They may even distrust your motives.

Working on becoming a better leader is always worth it.

So, how can you ensure your team will take you seriously? Can you transform with credibility?

4 Ways To Transform in Trust 

  1. Explain why
    Tell them you are working on your leadership. Be a role model for taking development seriously. Explain why you are making this change.
  2. Be specific
    Tell them specifically what you are working to change, and what they should expect to see.
  3. Share your feelings
    Share a bit about what excites and scares you.
  4. Ask for help
    Ask for feedback about how you are doing along the way. If there is a specific behavior you are working on, ask them to help you recognize that. Consider developing a signal or other safe and easy way for them to let you know.
  5. Have you ever transformed your leadership midstream? How did you make the transition go smoothly?

    What if you need the team to change too (come back on Monday as the discussion continues).

The Input Paradox

When you take your leadership seriously, you are on a constant search for input.

“How am I doing?”
“What do you think”
“How did that go?”
“Am I on your short list?”

Before I go any further, let me stop and warn you.

This is one of those “do what I say not as a I do” posts.

I don’t have this handled.

Maybe you wrestle with this too.

Perhaps we can work on it together.

The Trouble With Input

Leading well is edgy.

You will tick people off.

And if you are leading well, you will be on a constant search for how you can lead better.

At any given point you will have just annoyed someone. In fact, at any given time, you may have done something that really made them mad.

And thus the Input Paradox

In an ideal world, when we make our courageous choices, there will be a locker room of support, patting us on the back, yelling.

“HOORAY FOR YOU.”

The truth is, your most courageous moves will likely be made quietly if you are lucky.

More probable, those moves will be made against opposition and naysayers. Your best decisions may be made with very few saying “amen”. In fact, they may be made against such an onslaught of differing views that you begin to question your own motives, values and credibility.

Here’s where it get’s tough.

Should you listen absolutely? perhaps? no way?

In my life, all of those have been the right answers to input received from credible sources.

Good Advice, Kept Warm

Some of the best input I ever received from a senior leader was this:

“I question your stance on X.But Karin, stop thinking about what we all think. That’s just going to make you bat shi_. Keep your head down, do the right thing. Lead courageously, and get results. That’s all that matters. If that’s not enough, that’s too bad.”

I have been carrying that in my heart. It goes a long way.

At the end of the day, you must lead from you.

If you lead to please, and it hurts your heart, something is wrong.

In fact, in might just make you “bat shi_.”

it’s worth a close listen to your heart.

Move and lead from there.

3 Easy and Practical Team Building Activities

It’s been a rather heavy week on Let’s Grow Leaders, talking about Courage, Fear, Transparency, and Chaos. So I am going to end the week on a lighter note. I had my team in town this week, working on business strategy and plans. We also made time the day before for a few practical and easy team building activities.

These activities are not original, but they worked quite well, with little prep, and without an external facilitator. If you are looking for a good way to kick-off the year, you might find value in giving them a try.

Making it Personal

We held the team building session at my house, followed by a home cooked dinner. I am a huge believer in having my team to my home, a tradition I have done for over a decade. There is value in wearing jeans, eating together, seeing the natural habitat, and meeting my family.

I now have a National team, so including significant others in the dinner is not practical. However in years past, I have included spouses and friends in the evening activities. A few years ago, my son ended up on the shoulders of team member riding a unicycle on my deck, so you have to be prepared for surprises. 

Vision Board and One Word Double Header

I combined the “one word” exercise that so many are doing this year with a vision board exercise (see, What the Heck’s a Vision Board and How it can Change Your Life). All you need is some old magazines, poster board, and glue and a bit of creativity.

I asked each of us to identify one word that we would focus on for the entire year (across all aspects of our lives), which served as the center of the boards. We then spent the afternoon sifting through stacks of magazines, cutting out words and pictures, sharing hopes and dreams, recognizing common interests and plans, and finding humorous suggestions for one another.

My word for this year is “inspire.” What’s yours?

I’ll pause here.

Book Exchange

In lieu of holiday gifts we elected to draw names, and we each purchased a book for one member of our team. The reasons for selection made for interesting conversation, some were strategic and business focused, other’s were more personal. I chose to give How To Work for an Idiot to one of my direct reports 😉

“What I Get From This Team” Matrix

We also did an exercise designed to talk about how we were doing as a team. I can’t remember where I learned it, so I apologize for not knowing the original source.

We used a 4 quadrant matrix, and asked one another 4 questions in the context of the team. and also in the context of my leadership.

  • What I get that I want.
  • What I get that I don’t want.
  • What I want that I don’t get.
  • What I don’t get that I don’t want

That simple structure led to rich conversation. It also led us to share some of our struggles and leadership philosophy
What Are Your Team Building Favorites?

Time to Grow: What's Next for Let's Grow Leaders

When I began writing Let’s Grow Leaders this Summer, I had no idea of the remarkable adventure that had begun.

It has been a journey of introspection, challenge, connection, friendships, support and collaboration.

I am deeply grateful for the growing international community of followers and subscribers who share their insights and add to the conversation. I am delighted by the growing network of thought leaders with whom I learn every day. I am humbled by those who so frequently comment and enrich the dialogue, particularly for Steve Borek, who began commenting early and often, and always enhances the post.

I’ve been working to digest the traffic and trends to interpret which posts and topics have been most helpful as I work to plan for 2013.

What would be even more useful would be your candid feedback. What would you like to see as we continue to grow on our leadership journeys?

Let’s Grow Together

  • What topics would be most useful?
  • Do you prefer conceptual conversation or practical advice?
  • Are the stories helpful?
  • What about guest posts, would you like more or less?
  • I have tried running a few special series on Saturdays, how do those feel?
  • If you are not a subscriber, what would encourage you to subscribe?
  • What types of posts are you most likely to share with others?
  • How can I better encourage your comments?
  • What ideas do you have for enhancing the Let’s Grow Leaders Facebook page?
  • What other ideas do you have?

I would appreciate any ideas and insights as I work to grow Let’s Grow Leaders in 2013. Please share any ideas you have in the comments, or send me an email at letsgrowleaders@gmail.com.

Time to Grow: What’s Next for Let’s Grow Leaders

When I began writing Let’s Grow Leaders this Summer, I had no idea of the remarkable adventure that had begun.

It has been a journey of introspection, challenge, connection, friendships, support and collaboration.

I am deeply grateful for the growing international community of followers and subscribers who share their insights and add to the conversation. I am delighted by the growing network of thought leaders with whom I learn every day. I am humbled by those who so frequently comment and enrich the dialogue, particularly for Steve Borek, who began commenting early and often, and always enhances the post.

I’ve been working to digest the traffic and trends to interpret which posts and topics have been most helpful as I work to plan for 2013.

What would be even more useful would be your candid feedback. What would you like to see as we continue to grow on our leadership journeys?

Let’s Grow Together

  • What topics would be most useful?
  • Do you prefer conceptual conversation or practical advice?
  • Are the stories helpful?
  • What about guest posts, would you like more or less?
  • I have tried running a few special series on Saturdays, how do those feel?
  • If you are not a subscriber, what would encourage you to subscribe?
  • What types of posts are you most likely to share with others?
  • How can I better encourage your comments?
  • What ideas do you have for enhancing the Let’s Grow Leaders Facebook page?
  • What other ideas do you have?

I would appreciate any ideas and insights as I work to grow Let’s Grow Leaders in 2013. Please share any ideas you have in the comments, or send me an email at letsgrowleaders@gmail.com.

How To Tell Your Boss The Truth

I learned this one the hard way.

My first year out of grad school, I was invited to a symposium on self-directed work teams. In academia, I was well versed. I had little practical experience. The morning began with a senior executive sponsor setting the vision. After he spoke, I immediately raised my hand and challenged one of his major assumptions. I shared my “truth.” There was a palpable gasp from the crowd. He was embarrassed, as was I.

It doesn’t matter if my “truth” was true. I am not sure if I ever recovered with that executive.

I believe in telling the truth. I need to hear it. My boss needs to hear it. You boss needs to hear it.

Frame your truth in a way that can be heard.

Truth Packaged Well

Your boss is likely working on her leadership as much or more than you are working on yours. No matter how confident someone appears on the outside, they are dealing with insecurities, complex personal and family dynamics, and personal triggers just like the rest of us.

When done well, your boss will hear the feedback, and be grateful that you cared enough to take the time.

A few tips:

  • Stay centered in your own intentions is this about you or about them, or the chemistry between?
  • Ask– are they open to some feedback?
  • Schedule some time, or look for an opportunity free from distractions
  • Provide the feedback in private
  • Come from a spirit of caring and helping
  • Ask questions, try to understand her point of view
  • Be prepared with specific examples
  • Own the feedback, this is from you, you are not representing the rest of the group
  • What would you add ?

The 3 Gifts: Grateful for Growing

They say “feedback is a gift,” but much of the time it does not feel that way.

So, what was different this time?

It was a cool, crisp night. The warmth of the make-shift spotlight was both frightening and friendly as I stood ready to give my final speech at the SCORRE conference. Frightening because my own expectations were high, and I knew the feedback would be deep, direct, and dead on. Friendly, because any feedback would be delivered with generosity and compassion.

I had come to this conference to hone my speaking. What I had not anticipated was how much I would learn from experiencing and watching the coaches coach. By the third day, I began taking as many notes on  how the coaches were giving feedback as to what they were saying.

What was it about their approach that made it both compelling and easy to hear?

Why was I so thirsty for more?

How was it that my group full of experienced speakers were transforming into magnificent motivators before my eyes?

and mostly…

What could these coaches teach me about giving better feedback?

Tonight I write to you not from the perspective of a leader growing leaders, but of a leader being grown. And so I re-gift the wisdom I gained from experiencing great feedback, and watching others do the same.

The Gift of Discovery

Focus on the behaviors to get to root cause.

Why did her eyes keep looking above the audience, what was she afraid of?

Why did he keep stumbling on the same words, perhaps he didn’t believe them?

What is the real message? What story lies underneath? How can THAT message be shared?

The Gift of Becoming

Focus on hidden strengths

What is her real passion and how do we draw it out?

What are the deeper gifts lying dormant? How can we get them on stage?

When is he brave? How can we translate that to this context?

The Gift of Letting Go

Give permission to discard

Who told him he wasn’t good at _____? Why does he still believe them?

What image is she trying to uphold? Why does she need it?

What old patterns keep joining her on stage? What can we put in their place?

Time To Re-Gift

When feedback is truly a gift, it feels like one not. Because it is sandwiched between snuggly fluff, but because it gets us further along our journey to what we are becoming.