Telling People How to Improve is Pointless


I’ve always felt that telling people how to improve was pointless. That’s like telling them from the start that they’re not good enough and this makes them shut right down. Applauding and guiding them for excellence while personalizing only to yourself and not them engages people. 

I use the FBI method. “I FELT you really demonstrated great anticipation skills when you (BEHAVIOR) pulled that comparative research on the results of our last campaign. The IMPACT of this is changing our direction to be more focused on one-on-one relationship building and not costly mass acquisition initiatives.” This is far better than, “Great job” or “We didn’t do a good job on that.”

Legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry turned around his struggling team not by showing highlight films of mistakes but by combing through game footage to create a highlight reel for each player of them doing something easily, naturally and...

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How to Give Feedback that Matters

Feedback is crucial to performance improvement because it enables us to look at situations and ourselves from a third-party perspective. It unlocks self-reflection and growth, and opens the door to opportunity. “You are doing a great job” or “You have to do better,” does not give the employee the needed tools to improve or the intrinsic fulfillment to make him want to stay with the company and grow.

Effective feedback has three mindful components. It is 1) Strategic, 2) Developmental and 3) Aligned with the values of the organization. These require us to be aware of our restrictive biases.

Strategic Feedback: The employee can most benefit from feedback that answers this question: “What should this employee do more or less of to be maximally effective?” If you aren’t sure of the answer, ask the employee. Once you have the answer, you can work with her to clear distractions from her workload and position her to do the most meaningful and...

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