Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Feedback - are you a Cat....?

What's your style of giving feedback....and have you even thought about it?

Are you a Cat?

The Cat is someone who wants to be liked. They don't really like conflict and believe it is really important to build really good relationships with people - that makes for a better working environment, right?

What's it like to be on the receiving end?

It's strange. All of the feedback that the Cat gave you was really positive, he even gave you some good examples. However your rating was 'meets expectations'....that just doesn't seem to make sense. I am not sure if I have done a good job or whether I need to do a bit better.

What's it like to be the Cat?

As the Cat you feel it is important that the person feels good about the feedback. You certainly don't want it to impact your relationship with them. You really want to try and avoid any conflict so it's probably best to avoid those negative thoughts that you might have. If only they knew what you were really thinking - imagine that!

If you are a Cat have a think about the impact you are having.

For some tips and advice on feedback check out these posts:

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Feedback - are your a Parrot....?

What's your style of giving feedback....and have you even thought about it?

Are you a Parrot?

A Parrot is someone who doesn't really have anything original to say about you. In fact they don't really have much to say at all. They seem to have a list of special phrases that they think are insightful.....but are really quite meaningless. For example 'attitude and aptitude gets you altitude..'.

What's it like to be on the receiving end?

Confusing! You were keen to get some feedback from them but it was like talking to a mirror. Whenever you asked for feedback they just seemed to ask back what I thought. When I suggested an area I should focus on they did seem to agree but didn't really provide any advice or suggestions.

What's it like to be the Parrot?

Well as a Parrot this feedback stuff isn't really top of your agenda. You know that the activity has to happen once or twice a year but you would rather get it over and done with quickly if possible. You are sure that people already know what they need to do and anyway that coaching course you were told to attend taught you that it is better for people to find out things for themselves. Sometimes, if I take some time to think about it I can come up with some good examples that might be useful to them....but that's not my job is it?

If you are a Parrot have a think about the impact you are having.

For some tips and advice on feedback check out these posts:

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Feedback - are you a Bull...?

What's your style of giving feedback....and have you even thought about it?

Are you a Bull?

A bull is someone who likes to 'tell you like it is'. They don't believe in 'skirting the issue' and feel it is their duty to deliver the message loud and clear. They believe that there should be no doubt in your mind about the message being delivered and really can't stand those HR types that just try and dress the message up with corporate speak...

What's it like to be on the receiving end?

Well, if you like to get your feedback in a very direct manner then it's fine. However for most people the messages are often delivered without any empathy or consideration of the emotional impact. For some people it can be quite upsetting and this can be made even worse if the direct message isn't backed up by any solid examples or constructive suggestions as to what needs some focus. Tears can be a common outcome from the feedback session...

What's it like to be the Bull?

As a Bull you think it is really important that people get the feedback that other people may not be capable of delivering. You feel it is your duty to avoid any 'flowering up' of the message - you don't want people to get confused now, do you? If people can't deal with the truth then that's surely their problem isn't it? You have often noticed that people find it hard to deal with the truth and some even seem to get all emotional - you just can't understand that....they should just deal with it and move on.

If you are a Bull have a think about the impact you are having.

For some tips and advice on feedback check out these posts:

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Some irrational thoughts on training and change management

McKinsey have recently published a very interesting paper entitled 'The Irrational Side of Change Management' You will need to have registered on their site to read the full paper but it is well worth it (and free). Thanks to my colleague Simon for pointing me in the right direction.

It provides some very insightful comments about traditional approaches to change management and how it is the practical implementation of the approaches that determine success or failure. It takes the following four conditions required for change and then examines what works and what doesn't:
  • a compelling story
  • role modeling
  • reinforcing mechanisms
  • capability building
All of the insights are essential reading but for Learning and Development professionals I found a couple to be of particular interest.

Let people write their own story:-

This reveals something about human nature: when we choose for ourselves, we are far more committed to the outcome (almost by a factor of five to one). Conventional approaches to change management underestimate this impact. The rational thinker sees it as a waste of time to let others discoverfor themselves what he or she already knows—why not just tell them and be done with it? Unfortunately this approach steals from others the energy needed to drive change that comes through a sense of ownership of the answer.

At BP, to develop a comprehensive training program for frontline leaders, a decision was made to involve every key constituency in the design of the program, giving them a sense of “writing their own lottery ticket.” It took a year and a half to complete the design using this model but was well worth it: now in implementation, the program is the highest rated of its
kind at BP. More than 250 active senior managers from across the business willingly teach the course, and, most important, managers who have been through the training program are consistently ranked higher in performance than those who haven’t, both by their bosses and by the employees who report to them.

Employees are what they think and believe in:-

As managers attempt to drive performance by changing the way employees behave, they all too often neglect the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that, in turn, drive behavior.

The articles describes a successful training programme that focused on the the mind set of the delegates and helped this determine the most appropriate training approach to help change their behaviour

Good intentions aren't enough:-

Good skill-building programs usually take into account that people learn better by doing than by listening. These programs are replete with interactive simulations and role plays, and commitments are made by participants regarding what they will “practice” back in the workplace. But come Monday morning, very few keep their commitments.

Instead, a “field and forum” approach should be taken, in which classroom training is spread over a series of learning forums and fieldwork is assigned in between. Second, we suggest creating fieldwork assignments that link directly to the day jobs of participants, requiring them to put into practice new mind-sets and skills in ways that are hardwired into their responsibilities. These assignments should have quantifiable, outcome-based measures that indicate levels of competence gained and certification that recognizes and rewards the skills attained.

Some really good practical advice is contained in the paper and these are items that are simple to put into place. For me they have reinforced what I have also seen - both on the receiving end and the delivery end....

Feedback - are you a Hare...?

What's your style of giving feedback....and have you even thought about it?

Are you a Hare?

A Hare is someone who is probably well intentioned but always extremely busy. Allocating some time to give feedback is always on the 'to do' list but other items always seem to push it down in priority - client meetings, that important sales pitch, meeting your own manager etc. The Hare often rearranges feedback sessions at the last minute and may have to cut them short to dash off to something else.

What's it like to be on the receiving end?

Even though the session has been rearranged twice, you are still looking forward to receiving some feedback from the Hare. After all you respect them and believe their feedback will provide some valuable insight. When the Hare does actually arrive it is a whirlwind of rushed messages that you find quite hard to decipher. Although there are some really insightful items you just don't have time to explore them further because the Hare has had to dash off to something else.

You are left feeling like you only have half of the picture and also quite undervalued as you seem to be low on the priority list. Clearly getting on around here means allocating minimal time to this sort of activity.

What's it like to be the Hare?

Well as the Hare you actually feel that feedback is important and have been thinking about what to say for a while. However there always seem to be other things that are more important too. However you always do your best to provide some insightful nuggets and of course they can always follow up with you if they want to know more....... Actually it is quite frustrating being a Hare because you really want to allocate more time to giving the feedback but never seem to be able to......maybe next time.

If you are a Hare have a think about the impact you are having. For some tips and advice on feedback check out these posts:

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Feedback - what's your style...?

I have been on the receiving end of quite a bit of feedback recently as part of our bi-annual performance review process. On the whole I have been impressed with the way the feedback has been provided and people have been prepared to share some really valuable insights. Lots of feedback food for me to consume and consider.

It was really interesting to observe the different styles of the various individuals that provided the feedback and how effective they all are (or aren't). Over the next couple of posts I am going to examine a couple of different styles of feedback delivery to compare their impact and effectiveness. Which one are you....the Hare, the Bull, the Cat, the Parrot.....? If you aren't sure then ask the people who are on the receiving end......they might just give you the feedback YOU need!

I have written about feedback in some previous posts so if you want some general tips then check these out:

Monday, 13 April 2009

Your Favourite Teacher....?

It was the annual parents evening recently for my youngest son so my wife and I trotted up to the school to hear the low down on how he is doing. After crouching down onto the little chairs and sitting around the little table I felt like I had drifted back in time....and even started to get a little nervous myself.

The teacher started to tell us how well our son is doing and also some areas where he needs to focus on. The dreaded SATs exams are approaching and we all know how important it is to get good results......

Actually I was really impressed by how well the teacher really knows my son. He can see him for what he really is and recognises his strengths and works really to hard to help them come to the surface.

I came home thinking that the whole experience has so many links to the corporate world that we all live in:
  • How often is it that we only find out about our performance once a year? Sadly for a lot of people this is not unusual......
  • How may managers really take the time to find the strengths of their people, and then take the next step to make the most of them? Come to think of it how many managers even bother to look for strengths and just focus on those 'development needs'....?
  • How often are we too focused on results and not so much on how we might be able to achieve them. Are we focusing on the catch when we need to work on the throw?
It made me think about all the great teachers I have had in my life so far (...not just at school) and what they did to make me remember them. So this post is dedicated to them and how they have helped to shape my thinking......thanks!

If you have a moment then have a think about the people that have been your great teachers....what did they do and how can you learn from that?

Monday, 6 April 2009

A Carnival of Leadership....

It's carnival time again at Dan McCarthy's Great Leadership blog. Check it out for insightful musings about leadership, management, coaching.....and just about everything for people in a leadership position.

Thanks to Dan for taking the time to put together another great collection.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Unlearning...stop before you start...

I read an interesting article on the Training Zone site this week that focuses on the need to unlearn old ways before you can really take on board new ideas and techniques.

The ability to continuously change and develop is something that I have experienced and witnessed so many times not just in myself but in my work. It is always interesting to observe people who are stuck in their old ways of working and just stuttering in their ability to move forward.

From a training perspective it is really important for people to be able to take on new ideas so a technique that can help prepare them for this is worth taking note of. Here are some excerts from the article:

"Research in Denmark and the USA sheds new light on how most adults learn. It is based on the old concept of unlearning. As adults, much of the time we need to unlearn what we have picked up in the past before we can properly take on the new learning

At the University of Copenhagen, Professor Avril Einn has been working on the psychological principles behind this approach. "It is rather like having to empty a glass before we can fill it again," says Professor Einn. "Except that is not what actually happens in the brain. It is a mere psychological trick. If we believe we are letting go of old learning then somehow we are more open, more willing and more able to take on the new." This is based on ideas in psychosynthesis. "If you write down on a piece of paper something that has been troubling you and then tear up that paper, or burn it, somehow that symbolic act allows us to let it go. We have conducted research with over 2,000 subjects asking them to symbolically let go of past learning. Some have done this using their imagination, just in their own heads. Some have spoken it out loud. And some have written it down and torn it up."

What is most significant is the second phase of the study. What they have found is that almost every person is able to learn more and faster immediately after taking this preparatory action. On average people are able to learn, remember and use 39% more than was the case in a control group. This is a staggering increase. I have looked over the comprehensive research evidence and I have to say it looks both sound and compelling."

I can remember a leadership course that I developed and delivered with a third party. We gave the delegates the task of writing down some behaviours on a slip of paper and then screwing up the paper and throwing it in the bin. For some it sounded like a stupid gimic but they went along with it. For others they found it quite a difficult task and getting them to part with the piece of paper was quite a challenge.

However I do remember that for all of them it was clear that there was an emotional trigger taking place by undertaking the act. What was more interesting was observing any behaviour change that then took place. Those that grappled more with the parting of their paper typically had a greater change in behaviour....their glass had been emptied and was ready to be filled up with the new learning.

If you are currently designing a learning intervention and are particularly looking for people to take on new ways of thinking or behaving then consider how you will help them unlearn their old ways first....