Diaper Genie Feedback

Today’s post is a direct response to a subscriber’s question:

I took my first real leadership position when my oldest son was still in diapers. Every time I used our diaper genie, I thought, this is just how feedback and bad news works. Each level takes the poop and seals it in a bag before it gets sent to the next level up. Then, that level sanitizes it some more with another layer of protection. By the time it gets to the top, it smells pretty benign.

“I would love to hear your thoughts on eliciting candid feedback from your team and stakeholders? How do you get your team to take the risk of saying what needs to be said to those in power? How do you go about it? What suggestions do you have to do this effectively?”

Diaper genies work great for babies, but are a dangerous leadership tool.

So how do you get your employees to tell you the truth?

How do you ask for feedback in a way that feels safe?

5 Ways To Get More Feedback

Create an Environment of Trust

When I put this question out on my Let’s Grow Leaders Facebook page for insights, Eric Dingler shared:

You have to start with the end in mind. I think the best way is to have a culture of trust to start with. If you have a reputation of being a jerk and closed off to input, no trick will work. Once you have a culture of trust. You can simply ask for feedback. If you don’t feel like you are getting feedback, you’ve probably failed to establish a safe environment.

For more on creating a trusting environment see, A Matter of Trust: Why I Trust You, Why I Don’t.

Model it

I often see managers say to their employees, “I am wide open to feedback,” but then discourage their employees from being open with others above them. Or worse, they model their fear of repercussions. Employees will always listen to what you do more than what you say. If you are open in giving honest feedback to your boss, your team will be more likely to give you truthful feedback as well.

Ask

There are many ways to ask for feedback on both a formal and informal basis. I use one-on-ones to do this on a regular basis, so the feedback is casual and frequent. I also ask for feedback more formally during mid-year and end-of-year reviews. Employee surveys can also be good. Read more about feedback in Feedback: Getting Great Insights From People Who Matter.

Respond Elegantly

Start with “thank you.” Always. Watch how you react, not just with your words, but with your face, eyes, and body language. Listen attentively and react calmly, even if you disagree with the feedback. Work to understand the perceptions, even if you know there is more to the story.

Close the Loop

When given the gift of formal and informal feedback, be sure to close the loop. Recap what you heard. If you are going to take action, share that. Circle back and ask for feedback on your progress. Closure helps to build the trust, and encourages future feedback.

Who's Really Writing Your Performance Appraisal?

The best leaders I know have one song stuck in their head as they enter performance appraisal season.

“I can’t get no satisfaction? Nope

“You can’t always get what you want?” I sure hope not.

I see them humming, that old Christmas classic, “Do you Hear What I Hear?”

Where The Input Begins

Great performance appraisals are not written in a vacuum.

Chances are your boss is looking from a good bit of input into your performance appraisal.

Great leaders know they only have one perspective.

They go for more, and ask around. Hopefully, that starts with you. Here’s your chance to influence the situation. There are at least four places your manager is looking to for input.

You

The tangible results are the most important part of the performance appraisal. You are in a position to highlight some of your key accomplishments. Hopefully you had a performance agreement, or list of goals and measures you agreed to near the beginning of the year. If not, take the lead and share tangible results with your boss. Position it carefully as helpful input to lighten the load.

Focus on outcomes. What is the % improvement over last year? What is the retention and success rate of the new hires you mentored? Avoid highlighting results that just measure activity. “I visited 25 locations.” “I trained 15 classes.” It’s also fine to share some of the behind-the-scenes work your boss may have missed– particularly work you did for other workgroups or special projects.

Your Peers

A recent study by TribeHR of 20,000 employees found 85% of the recognition employees receive throughout the year comes from peers, not bosses. And, the amount of recognition correlates to end-of-year raises. I don’t know the ins and outs of the study, but I believe the premise. While employees are not supposed to talk about ratings or pay, I always assume something will leak out. It’s important that the people rated at the top are viewed as key contributors, and their peers would smile and say, ‘well deserved, that makes sense.”

Other Key Stakeholders

This is important no matter what kind of role you are in. Are you in HR? You boss will likely ask those you support about your style and impact. Are you in a field job? Your boss may go to Finance and ask how you are to work with. No, it’s not time to go buy pumpkin cheesecakes for all your staff support. However, it is good to know that others may be asked for input and to consider that in your interactions throughout the year.

Their Peers

Not everyone does this. I always do. Before anyone submits a rating, I always meet with my direct reports as a group to go through anyone being rated on either end of the performance spectrum. It always leads to interesting dialogue about perceptions and hidden interactions. Ideally, you do it a few times a year, so nothing new surfaces this late in the game.

You want everyone in that meeting nodding enthusiastically when your boss submits you for a top rating.

Who’s Really Writing Your Performance Appraisal?

The best leaders I know have one song stuck in their head as they enter performance appraisal season.

“I can’t get no satisfaction? Nope

“You can’t always get what you want?” I sure hope not.

I see them humming, that old Christmas classic, “Do you Hear What I Hear?”

Where The Input Begins

Great performance appraisals are not written in a vacuum.

Chances are your boss is looking from a good bit of input into your performance appraisal.

Great leaders know they only have one perspective.

They go for more, and ask around. Hopefully, that starts with you. Here’s your chance to influence the situation. There are at least four places your manager is looking to for input.

You

The tangible results are the most important part of the performance appraisal. You are in a position to highlight some of your key accomplishments. Hopefully you had a performance agreement, or list of goals and measures you agreed to near the beginning of the year. If not, take the lead and share tangible results with your boss. Position it carefully as helpful input to lighten the load.

Focus on outcomes. What is the % improvement over last year? What is the retention and success rate of the new hires you mentored? Avoid highlighting results that just measure activity. “I visited 25 locations.” “I trained 15 classes.” It’s also fine to share some of the behind-the-scenes work your boss may have missed– particularly work you did for other workgroups or special projects.

Your Peers

A recent study by TribeHR of 20,000 employees found 85% of the recognition employees receive throughout the year comes from peers, not bosses. And, the amount of recognition correlates to end-of-year raises. I don’t know the ins and outs of the study, but I believe the premise. While employees are not supposed to talk about ratings or pay, I always assume something will leak out. It’s important that the people rated at the top are viewed as key contributors, and their peers would smile and say, ‘well deserved, that makes sense.”

Other Key Stakeholders

This is important no matter what kind of role you are in. Are you in HR? You boss will likely ask those you support about your style and impact. Are you in a field job? Your boss may go to Finance and ask how you are to work with. No, it’s not time to go buy pumpkin cheesecakes for all your staff support. However, it is good to know that others may be asked for input and to consider that in your interactions throughout the year.

Their Peers

Not everyone does this. I always do. Before anyone submits a rating, I always meet with my direct reports as a group to go through anyone being rated on either end of the performance spectrum. It always leads to interesting dialogue about perceptions and hidden interactions. Ideally, you do it a few times a year, so nothing new surfaces this late in the game.

You want everyone in that meeting nodding enthusiastically when your boss submits you for a top rating.