This guide will teach you everything you need to know about leadership development.
Cool leadership training tips and techniques.
And feedback examples that I’ve never shared anywhere else before.
Let’s get started…
Giving feedback doesn’t have to be awkward it’s a very important part of leadership training.
Follow the steps in this leadership development guide and you can learn to give feedback as well as a Judge!
Customers demand more for less and organisations must constantly innovate if they are to remain competitive.
This is obvious, just take Apple as an example of this phenomenon.
If they hadn’t responded to their customer’s comments like “the screens are too small” or “I’d love a better camera” or “the battery doesn’t last long enough” then Apple wouldn’t have changed their original mobile phone.
Imagine they were still producing the 3G after all these years:
So why is Apple so good at constantly changing their product and delivering top end products? Think I-pods, iTunes, Apple Music ….
They listen to their customer’s feedback.
They actually take one step further, they actively seek out feedback!
Apple doesn’t get defensive when their customers tell them something could be better – so why do your employees? (maybe you do to?)
You’ll have to wait a little longer for the answer to that important question.
Before we can answer why people get so defensive we need to understand the issues relating to employee feedback.
Companies that don’t invest in leadership programs lack innovation and usually don’t last very long, a good example would be Blackberry.
By comparison to the iPhone the Blackberry phone didn’t change much at all and, by the time it did, Blackberry had lost a huge chunk of their market share.
Take a look at what happened to them:
Customers are happy to give their feedback very openly and honestly, unfortunately in the workplace employee feedback is somewhat lacking by comparison.
Even leaders and managers who give feedback can’t get people to change and their team’s performance will look more like Blackberry’s than Apple’s.
65% of employees say they want more feedback.
This coupled with the fact that feedback gives your employee a 30 times more likely chance of being engaged in their roles, goes a long way towards explaining why feedback is so important.
With so much positive evidence showing that giving feedback to employees promotes change, why do so many leaders and managers avoid communicating this feedback to their workforce?
First, a brief question:
Why do Managers and Leaders avoid giving feedback?
Giving feedback is a skill and like all skills the more you do it the better you get at it.
Chance’s are if you haven’t had any training in how to give feedback effectively then you probably sit in the 94%
Unfortunately, nearly all of us are brought up under the mantra of “if you don’t have anything nice to say then you shouldn’t say anything at all”.
This is great advice for ensuring that you stay really quiet around under performers, but not so good if you want them to improve!
Rather than deadly silence a better approach would be honesty, delivered fairly and with respect.
There’s a right way to do this and many wrong ways and these can bring you unwanted and undesirable side effects so practicing how to do this is critical to improving your skills in giving feedback.
Here are some of the different outcomes from giving employees feedback:
Our parents and teachers do a fantastic job of training us to resist the impulse of telling someone what we honestly think if it could upset them.
In the long term though a manager or leader (or anyone really) keeping quiet only does harm to themselves and the people they work with.
Did you know that the chances of you receiving regular feedback from your line manager will decrease as you get older? The same applies as you become more experienced in your role.
Check out these findings from a study of 10,000 employees in the tech industry:
Interestingly the more experience and the older the people got in the study the less feedback they reported they received. By comparison, employees that were younger and had less than 3 years experience reported receiving much more feedback.
This could suggest that older more experience people do not receive feedback very well or managers and leaders find they are more difficult to give feedback to.
Managers and Leaders skilled in giving feedback to teams would not find the difference in age or experience anymore challenging than a younger less experienced employee.
Regardless of age or experience, the principles you need to follow and the methods you use are the same.
This brings us nicely to:
I have a pleasant surprise for you, a much better solution is easier than you think.
A guaranteed way to move things forward is to speak honestly (this seems obvious right?) but there’s a catch.
You have to ensure that you do this in a respectful way.
Something that sounds easy in theory, but is much more difficult in practice when emotions are running high.
58% of managers admit that they do not give enough feedback to their team and this is dangerous, check out some of the consequences:
If you only focus on giving honest feedback you will not get the results you want.
Why is this?
Because it gets peoples backs up.
Unless you take the time to explain your feedback in a way that is both informative and respectful you will harm the relationships you have…
You may get a quick fix doing it regardless of the impact to the other person but in the long run, nobody will want to work for you.
Respecting people first is a smart way to go about giving effective feedback!
No one likes unfair feedback, but what if a member of your team reacts in an unexpected and negative way?
These are proven tips, tools and tactics to help you manage a negative reaction to feedback (Constructive Feedback).
If you don’t know what to do, you risk the relationship between you and them breaking down, and that is never good!
Things can quickly escalate to a relationship without trust:
Check you’ve communicated correctly before you start to give your feedback.
There are a number of common mistakes that people make in communicating. You can save yourself a lot of time and heartache by following a proven communication process.
To make sure you’re ready to proceed and for the most comprehensive practical communication guide on the web check out our Communication Hub
Stage 1 – Self Awareness – Be aware of how they are reacting and why
Stage 2 – Use the correct feedback techniques to manage the negative reaction and get the conversation back on track. In this section we will be covering:
Are you concerned with how people react when you give feedback or do you get a reaction you didn’t understand or expect?
Here are some likely scenarios:
1. Your team member thinks that you feel they have have intentionally done a bad job.
2. They did not understand what they were expected to do and now you’ve caught them by surprise
3. Uses defensive tactics to try and deflect from them having to face the reality of doing a bad job
4. Not wanting to be seen as struggling (Pride)
If you are giving feedback and you often find people are getting defensive – Here’s some tips from our leadership training course.
Stop and reassure them:
“I know you care and you know and want to do a good job”
Repeat this as many times as needed throughout the conversation, there is a good chance you’ll need to use this multiple times.
It is very important that they understand your view of their intentions here, so watch closely and don’t press on until you are sure they are on your wavelength…
Moving forward too fast here could create unnecessary tension and possibly lead to a frosty relationship between you which isn’t good for you, them, or the business.
When you’re sure they are no longer trying to defend their intentions, its safe to move on.
Another way of saying this is:
If they believe you think they were being lazy and don’t care, chances are this conversation is over. They aren’t listening anymore.
Only now can you highlight why you needed to speak to them about this, trying to continue to address an issue or situation while they still feel the need to defend themselves will only lead to failure, so be observant.
For example: (and explain in more detail if required)
“This has a negative impact on the company/customer/team”
Your colleague may not be used to receiving feedback and may view it as far more serious than it actually is.
I actually had a situation where for about 6 weeks I had weekly coaching conversations with a new manager. On the sixth meeting I caught a flash in the guys eye which I would only describe as the look of extreme concern.
I coached a lot of people while I worked in that role so a sit down chat to catch up on the office was normal for me.
This was not the case for him.
I meant to come across like this:
Instead of being taken like the supportive boss I intended, he thought of me more like this:
Since then, I ‘ve adopted the habit of always taking the time to fully explain the reason I am speaking to people now!
Reassurance is key here.
Again assure them you know that they care and want to do a good job. If your colleague is hardworking then make sure you let them know you recognise this.
They will be looking for a reason why you have decided to talk to them, so a good practice is to take the time to explain there are a lot of changes in the organisation and everyone is having to change what they are doing. (Again reassure here. Let them know that what they used to do was good so they understand this is not something they have done wrong)
Lots of people make a big mistake and miss this, but giving people a reason why this conversation is taking place stops them second guessing and worrying.
They may feel you are picking on them or treating them unfairly.
This could be a tactic to “get off” by escalating their response, or they might just be having a bad day.
This can be particularly damaging to your relationship if not managed correctly.
This situation is a little different and it catches people out.
You need to actually stop talking about the task you previously set them and address the unacceptable behaviour.
All organisations have a clear expectation about remaining professional and this means keeping your emotions in check.
When you discuss this a helpful example might be :
“We’ll talk about the task a little later, right now I need to discuss your current behaviour as it is not acceptable.
In your position you have a responsibility to remain professional.
Going forward I expect you to communicate in a professional way.
If you really feel you cannot control yourself then you are to ask for some time away from the situation but you cannot behave like this.
Do you understand?”
What happens here is a lack of impulse control.
The solution is to address it and then escalate (disciplinary process) if you need to.
If you do not deal with this now, you can guarantee you’re going to get it again in the not to distant future.
Plus behaviour problems always start small and develop into to bigger more serious issues, getting in early is good practice…
Once they have settled down you can explain that you do not think they have done it intentionally and that you know they care about doing a good job.
Explain that it is important that you discuss this with them, due to the negative impact their actions are having on the company and/or other members of the team because of something they have done/not done.
They may have done exactly what they thought you asked them to do, but because they misunderstood the instruction they did not deliver to your expectation.
Be careful here, it is very likely that the way you communicated to them in the first place was not good enough and you have left too much to chance. (Read our Communication Hub to discover how to get your communication to industry leading levels using a tried and tested simple process. We give you a step-by-step process to follow)
If you find this is the case, be honest and apologise for not taking the time to check they understood your instruction. Something like:
“This isn’t your fault. It is because I didn’t explain it properly, but I need to discuss it with you because it’s important you understand that what you’ve done has had a negative effect on the company/customer and has meant others have had to pick up the slack and that isn’t fair on them.”
Sometimes people struggle to express themselves.
One of the most common reactions is to go quiet.
This is actually a thing:
In this situation people can feel all of the above but you won’t know because they don’t say.
This can also be harmful to your relationship in the long term if not managed correctly.
This is very common and it is even likely you do this yourself without realising it.
Another reason could be they have misunderstood your intentions (hopefully you’ve got good intentions!) and they see you as a potential threat to them in some way. ie taking advantage of them by stepping on them to get what you want…
Because this can also cause a breakdown in your relationship you need to address their behaviour.
You may need to give them more time and that’s okay.
Leadership training courses teach that, what is important at this stage is you get information about how they are feeling about the situation.
In this conversation a helpful example may be:
“I do need to talk through what has happened in the task as it has had a negative effect on the company/customer and the rest of the the team have had to work even harder to pick up the slack, which isn’t fair on them. For now I need to know what your thoughts about the situation are”
As the conversation progresses add in the reassurance that you know they care and want to do a good job and again if they are a hard worker then state this also.
Let them know that they need to watch out for situations where they don’t express themselves, as by saying nothing the situation will almost certainly come up again in the future. Offer your support and guidance for further reassurance that you have their best interests at heart.
By comparison, people skilled in feedback understand that feedback is a process that can involve periodic stops and direction changes along the way.
What this means is that although you get the where you want to go faster (in this case telling the person honestly how they are performing). Our leadership program shows you can do a lot of damage to them and yourself getting there:
When feedback is done well it builds trust in the relationship, making this a much more rewarding experience for everyone involved. Any time invested in planning or improving feedback is time well spent that will reward you and your team for years to come.
Why do people react so defensively to receiving feedback, even when it is constructive?
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to have a knack for giving constructive feedback?
Do you want to discover how people skilled from leadership training in feedback can give brutally honest feedback but still have the people in their team sing their praises?
We discussed these earlier, by now you’ve probably been able to remember situations where people have reacted in one of these ways.
Defensiveness isn’t the only unproductive way people react to feedback, although it does make the top of this list.
2. Worry about the consequences
3. Unreasonable and Disrespectfully Angry
5. Go silent and sulk
Why does it pay for you to watch for these 5 reactions?
Because if they react like this, they are definitely not listening to what you are saying!
If they aren’t listening to what you are saying though, what are they thinking about?
They are focusing more on how they feel:
Maybe you’ve tried the S**T sandwich or one of the other feedback methods out there with little success.
How can you give feedback and ensure they are listening and understanding what you are saying, rather than waiting for you to stop speaking so they can mount their defence?
There are effective ways and good methods for giving feedback from leadership training, however, for this problem, we need to go a bit further back.
I actually first spotted this when I was trying to model a top seller at a company I was working with.
When I arrived the situation was dire, sales were down and the company’s top KPI was lagging behind badly.
To my surprise, this was definitely not from a lack of effort or engagement at any level in the team.
The manager introduced me to his top seller and showed me somewhere I could watch him undisturbed.
The manager was super keen and had clearly put a lot of effort into this himself, but just couldn’t get his team anywhere near his top seller’s performance.
He went on to explain what his top seller usually said when he made the sale, then told me how this failed miserably when he or others in his team tried this.
At this point, I had an idea what the problem was but I needed to make sure, so I watched the top seller and then I watched some of the other staff.
The difference was clear!
The reason no one else could make the sales the top seller made was not that they didn’t get the sales pitch right -this was actually very well delivered by the team, as the manager had said.
The difference was that the top seller got his sale before he even delivered the sales pitch, the legwork was already done!
Sales Process Example:
By the time the top seller had delivered his sales pitch to the customer, he had already unknowingly and very skilfully delivered a fantastic approach and greeting, worked hard to establish the customer’s needs and presented his service in such a way to ensure the customer felt very special.
Something you cannot do in a one-line sales pitch!
By comparison his colleagues were essentially trying to skip straight to step 4 and you can’t get up the staircase to reach your goal with missing steps!
Using the same theory, you can’t just give someone feedback on their performance without doing the legwork beforehand.
The reason for this is because the feedback will come as a surprise to them and they will feel that it is very unfair.
For example: Imagine you care about doing a good job and you’re completing a task and you think it is to a good enough standard. Then someone comes and tells you it’s not good enough, but you’ve been doing it that way for years! (unfortunately, this is a common problem in most organisations!)
They’re going to feel confused and embarrassed but they’re also going to think it was unfair that no one has ever spoken to them about this before, and so you mount a defensive stance to protect your honour!
Now take the same situation and imagine your boss had told you that due to a recent change in process, the standard you’ve achieved used to be good enough, but it isn’t going to cut it anymore.
Your boss explains why it’s important and what the consequences are if you don’t deliver to the new standard, for both the company and the impact it will have on others in your team.
If you don’t get it right this time you’re still going to still feel embarrassed, but the difference is that you understand you didn’t do something important that you were asked to do.
This is a much better way to approach giving feedback in the workplace.
To stop the awkwardness during constructive feedback and to ensure your team is listening when you give feedback, watch for the 5 points above –
Silent and Avoidance
But more important to your success could be what happens in the lead up before giving feedback.
Give clear and specific instructions, so your team understands exactly what is expected of them.
Hopefully this leadership training guide has got you on well on your way to improving your leadership skills.
The skill of giving feedback effectively is a real Win/Win.
It’s very easy to see the correlation between improvements in feedback and increases in your teams performance.
You benefit by being able to delegate tasks to your team members, your team benefits in developing better skillsets the company makes or saves money and the customer gets a better product at a better price.
Which reaction do you find people tend to take when you give feedback, is it Silence or maybe you notice people get angry.
Either way, let us know by making a comment below right now.