Fudge is the staple diet of many leaders. Some of us have experienced it before, and most of us have done it before! Picture the scene!
Mary is called in to speak to her manager, Angus. She comes in, is asked to take a seat, and unsuspectingly duly does so. Angus, in an uncomfortable effort to do this humanely, asks Mary about her family and they get distracted while they discuss little Johnny’s successes at pre-primary school. Some five to ten minutes later, Angus remembers the purpose of the meeting – he has some feedback to give Mary, feedback he wishes he doesn’t need to give.
Okay, so I have hammed it up just a little bit. But how many times have we experienced or seen managers fudge feedback? How many times have their team members left their office wondering what that was all about – “Am I in trouble, or am I getting that bonus (but perhaps not as big as I hoped)?”
Part of the problem, I believe, is that we confuse confronting and criticism. So, let’s settle that upfront:
We need to confront team members whenever their actions, behaviour or performance are inappropriate or contrary to agreed behaviours and / or standards of performance. The golden rule of confronting (that is giving constructive feedback) is based on the universal golden rule of conduct – apparently followed by all thirteen of the world’s major religions – namely, to treat others as you would like to be treated in the circumstances. In other words, if we as leaders or managers were in the position of the team member about to be confronted, how would we like to be treated.
Of course, some people might respond that they wouldn’t like to be confronted at all. This avoidance, however, denies us the opportunity to learn and to perform. Ongoing avoidance would only lead to an ongoing lack of effectiveness as leader and is not really an option.
Accordingly, the question is not whether one would like to be confronted but, if one were to be confronted in the current circumstances, how this confronting could be done meaningfully and effectively in a way that leads to optimal learning and improved performance and at least maintains self-esteem. So, ask: how would I like to be treated in similar circumstances?
Here’s a feedback technique you might find useful. It’s called AID that can be used in giving both positive and constructive feedback. The three-letter acronym has three steps to it:
Let me illustrate this by way of a simple example:
I would love to hear your thoughts. How would this work for you?
Furthermore, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you believe I can help you move from good to great? Contact me on email@example.com and let’s explore this.
Until next month