Well, it’s that time of year. Another podcast rehashing the same stuff that comes up every January. What are you going to do differently in 2018? What’s your one word, your three words, your paragraph? This is the year you will write your book, right? The year you are going to get 1,000 clients, 10,000 email addresses, $1M in sales. If you think I’m talking about resolutions and goal setting, you are wrong!
Each of those things is important but this topic is more than planning, big thinking or big hairy audacious goals (BHAG). I’m talking about soliciting the information you need to move ahead. All of the goal setting, positive thinking, mindfulness, visualization, and meditation isn’t going to be worth anything if you don’t change your behavior. Time to stop doing the same things you’ve always done. What you need is for someone, or someones, to give you an educated perspective on the areas where you need to change to go to the next level. It’s time to get serious and find out how to get the feedback you need.
Feedback is critical to progress. Without it, you likely have little to no idea what needs to change. Are you improving or regressing? Can people look at you and say “I see a difference” or do they just see the same old attitudes and behaviors? How are you going to measure it?
Have you noticed how there are two very different contexts for feedback? On the one hand, you have audio feedback. Think about what happens when a microphone gets placed too close to a loudspeaker. It can not only be annoying but damaging to our eardrums! When that happens, the natural response is clasping our hands over our ears. We don’t want to hear it! When we give feedback that way, we disregard the receiver and generally are speaking about what I need – you know the scenario: we vomit up “constructive criticism” but in reality, it’s nothing but a whinge and it’s not going to bring any lasting change. For feedback to register, the receiver has to connect with what’s in it for them! They have to know why they want to change. It must be their decision, their idea.
The other context for feedback is when you request for someone to evaluate your performance and they respond with some helpful guidance or opinion. This is SO helpful. You know when you have received it too. It’s like someone opened your brain and dumped a new idea and you are like “Wow! I can’t believe I never saw that before!”
Now, this is forced on many folks annually in the form of a performance review. It’s too bad they happen so infrequently because they can be really beneficial for you as the leader or as a team member. Can you recall a performance review where you knew that you had made a mistake during the period being discussed? I’ve had several of these!
Or recall when someone offered you insight on how to approach a difficult customer or gave you questions to ask when closing a sale to make sure it didn’t fall through or a method for repair on a piece of equipment that saved time. When I’m getting feedback in response to my query, then I introduce the possibility of change.
Listening is critical in this process. I don’t mean hearing, I mean really tuning in to what’s being said. You can get some great tips on listening by using this link to LTL 042: Leaders Listen.
Marshall Goldsmith has a foolproof method for securing feedback. And he has to – he can’t afford not to (literally) because, in his coaching practice, he only gets paid if he gets results. That opens a whole other can of worms, doesn’t it? Imagine at your office if only those who produced a result got a paycheck. Dave Ramsey, who created the Financial Peace program and is responsible for helping tens of thousands of people out of debt, doesn’t do annual performance reviews or pay raises. He requires his teams to demonstrate value and then come to him when they think that value warrants an increase.
When Marshall Goldsmith works with coaching clients, he always gets confidential feedback from their coworkers at the beginning of the process. He enlists each person to help him out. He wants them to assist, not sabotage, the change process and does this by saying to them, “I’m going to be working with my client for the next year. I don’t get paid if she doesn’t get better. Better is not defined by me; it is not defined by her. It is defined by you and the other coworkers involved in the process.”
Marshall Goldsmith’s Four Commitments For Feedback:
- Let go of the past
- Tell the truth
- Be supportive and helpful–not cynical or negative
- Pick something to improve themselves, so everyone is focused on more “improving” than “judging”
He says there are just a few things you need to do in order to get the feedback you need:
- Pick 10-12 people with whom you’ve had professional contact–work friends, peers, colleagues
- Ask them to agree to the four commitments
- Ask them the one question that works:
“How can I do better?”
Marshall says to treat every piece of advice as a gift, a compliment, and simply say, “Thank you.” No one expects you to act on every piece of advice. Just act on advice that makes sense to you. The people around you will be thrilled!
Whitney Johnson’s Feedback Formula:
- Reach out to 5 people that you interact with on a regular basis
- Ask them for specific, concrete direction on how you could do your job better over the next few months
- Responses should be concrete about the work, not the person
- Share something you like about working with them or how you feel
Whitney also had this link to Kristen Pressner’s article called #FlitItToTestIt which addresses an unconscious bias between reviews with men and women.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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