Motivating Feedback

In a recent workshop for managers, I taught a feedback technique that has been very useful in my work. Since that workshop, I have been pondering the whole concept of feedback and how we use it on ourselves, both to motivate and as a way to crush our own spirits.

Feedback, in its purest essence is neither positive nor negative. It is merely data. How it is received cannot be controlled by the person providing the data; how it is received is controlled completely by the data’s recipient. When the provider and the recipient are one and the same, it can get very interesting.

I often lament that, if we talked to a small child the way we sometimes talk to ourselves, we would be arrested for verbal child abuse. I doubt that any readers of this column would say to a child, “How could you be so stupid? What on EARTH were you thinking, you idiot? You never get anything right!” And yet, we feel perfectly comfortable talking to ourselves this way, sometimes even sharing it with others. “I can’t believe I was so stupid. Wait until I tell you what I did!” or, “I’m such an idiot. This won’t happen again, I promise.”

I am using this week’s column to teach a feedback process that will assist enormously in removing the sting of the whip from your internal feedback process.

When completing a project or a task, ask yourself the following two questions:
1. If you would do anything differently next time, what would it be?
2. What did you like best about what you did?

This is called the NT/LB process (“Next Time/Liked Best”). When it was taught to me, the process was reversed (LB/NT). However, since I began using it in my coaching, I’ve noticed two things that caused me to change the order:
1. Nearly everyone first thinks of what they’d like to do differently next time, even when asked what they liked best.
2. Because the Law of Attraction says, “You attract what you focus on,” it is important that the afterglow of the feedback is focused on what went well so that more things that go well will come your way.

The NT/LB Feedback Process accomplishes several very important things; it
1. Helps you take an objective look at your work so that you can improve it;
2. Encourages a feeling of satisfaction for what you did well;
3. Makes you more productive. When you employ the NT/LB process you are, in effect, acknowledging completion of a task or project. Completion generates energy and we are infinitely more productive when energetic.

In a perfect world, your immediate supervisor would use this sort of technique as a development tool. Because we are so intensely busy these days, even good managers who DO use these tools cannot use them on everything you do. It’s up to you to provide your own job satisfaction.

When you decide to be your own manager, you get to choose the kind of manager you will be. You know all those complaints you’ve had (and have) about supervisors? Examine those complaints and, when it comes to being your own manager, DO THE OPPOSITE. If you never received enough acknowledgement from past supervisors, make sure you acknowledge yourself. If you never got enough information for the work you need to do, go out and gather the information yourself. If you never got rewarded for a job well done, reward yourself.

The NT/LB Feedback Process will go a long way toward helping you to have the best supervisor you’ve ever had – YOU! Try it out for a few weeks. Watch for how much more interesting work gets (and how much better you get at your work!)