Fake or Fortune: Feedback

On Netflix is a series called Fake or Fortune. It’s about investigating if artwork is fake or real, and if real, worth a fortune.

Source: Netflix

It got me thinking about feedback conversations and the impact they have on organisational fortune, or productivity and profits.

You know when feedback has been difficult to swallow because it either started out with a platitude or a genuine compliment however was quickly followed by “but”. “But” negates everything that was said before it and this leads to the feedback receiver to wonder what’s real and what’s not in this feedback conversation.

Source: Shutterstock

Kelly, a manager I’ve been coaching, shared with me that her boss had called her into his office, started with some really nice positive feedback that was specific and seemed genuine to only then be followed with the line, “Well, Kelly, you need to know this is going to be a sh!t sandwich.” [A long version of “but”.] The boss then dived into the feedback he wanted to share with Kelly. When I asked Kelly about the whole experience, she admitted that she can’t recall much of what the boss said following that sandwich statement because she was in shock and wondered how real were the positive statements.

Another manager shared this with me:

“I personally didn’t find the praise sandwich technique effective. And I truly didn’t feel engaged or empowered. I felt I had little or no control during the conversation because my manager was using the technique step-by-step and actually reading from notes. Not using notes to jog his memory, I mean he actually had written out what he was going to say and that was the conversation. There was no back and forth conversation. The praise elements were ok but were not delivered sincerely.

I would prefer to get immediate feedback when I do something positive or negative, not wait a whole year or every 6 months. If it’s something positive – say specifically what you liked, what I did well that you would like to see again. If it’s something negative – again state specifically what was wrong and work with me to develop a strategy for improvement. I would like to see performance reviews for checking alignment of my goals to ensure they are supporting the company’s goals, and to work on professional development strategy.”

Do you relate to these situations?

The quality of the feedback conversation is a dilemma. According to Deloitte, 87% of companies say they don’t do an excellent job developing leaders at all levels. Feedback is an essential component of leadership development. For effective feedback, managers and leaders need to hone their skill so they can:

  • Be confident in giving feedback
  • Have regular feedback conversations
  • Self-Regulate emotions during feedback conversations
  • Ask questions that engage and empower
  • Create a safe environment for employees to initiate constructive two-way feedback conversations
  • Coach employees so effective goals and plans can be developed and implemented

I’m a firm believer in having a structure or agenda for your feedback conversation that can help the conversation stay on track. The structure is a guide, especially for those new to feedback, and new to creating a more conversational and coach-coachee situation.

Fundamentally the conversation should authentically aim for the As:

  • Awareness
  • Action
  • Achievement

If you focus on these in a genuine and authentic way you can avoid employees wondering if you’re being fake or actually interested in improving performance and productivity. And when these are improved so too are fortunes (aka profits).

I’d love to know your thoughts…

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