Remember the manager you once had who said to you, “i need to talk to you” and you got a deep sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach

Remember the manager you once had who said to you, “I need to talk to you” and you got a deep sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach?  What was it that made you react to those words?

There are any number of reasons that you reacted that way, many of which were based on the experiences you had following the statement “I need to talk to you.”

The first reason was that your manager never gave you any positive feedback.     All you heard were the things you weren’t doing right.  And for those of you who did get positive feedback, the feedback which was focused on changing behavior, wasn’t given clearly and you often walked away wondering what exactly you needed to do.

So that was then and now you’re the manager.  But what are you doing differently from the dreaded manager who couldn’t give you any effective feedback that you finally got so frustrated that you left the company for greener pastures?

Here are some steps for providing effective feedback that, if done correctly and consistently, will move your team members to a higher level of productivity and effectiveness.  The key is that you need to be consistent or you won’t get these results.  Remember: you won’t see changes over night.  Change generally happens incrementally and not all at once.

There are six general rules for providing effective feedback (see below).  During steps 1-3 of the conversation make your statements using the pronoun “I”, rather than “You”.  And during steps 4-6, transition the emphasis to the word “You”.

1.    At the very beginning of the meeting, make sure you clearly state why you are meeting with the person who is getting feedback.

2.    State facts or observations you have noticed and your concern about this behavior.

Example: “At the meeting yesterday, I saw you cut Jim off five times
                 while he was speaking, which is a concern to me.”

3.    Explain the impact the negative behavior has on you.

Example:  “The reason I am concerned is that when you cut people
                   off such as Jim, I and the other team members may be
                   missing some good ideas that he hasn’t been able to share
                   with us.  And since one of our key values is innovation, this
                   behavior does not align with our company values.

4.    Ask for the employee’s view of the situation and use as many questions or question-like statements as possible to get their perspective.

      Example:  “I’d like to understand what caused you to cut Jim off so many times.”  
                       “Please tell me more…”
                       “How do you think it made Jim feel?”

5.    Once the employee understands the impact their behavior has on their    performance and others around them, coach the person to their own solution.

Example:  “So what technique could you use that will stop you from
                 “What else could you use?”

6.    Get commitment on a SMART Goal from the employee. A SMART Goal is a Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound goal.

Example:  “What solutions are you committed to trying?”
                 “When will you try it?”
                 “How will you know that you have been successful?

7.    Set a specific time for a follow up discussion.

Now that you know the steps for effective feedback, when are you going to start the process?  The sooner you start, the sooner your employees will become more productive and effective.  And as a manager or business leader, this means greater profits and a more engaged workforce.

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