Imagine going to work every day, doing the best you know how and not knowing whether your boss agrees that what you’re doing is what s/he wants and needs.
Imagine being surprised at your annual performance review (which is usually at least a month or two late) to hear for the first time that you’ve been doing it wrong.
Imagine your leadership team’s surprise that their employees are profoundly disengaged.
This is an all too familiar scenario at work places across the globe. Lack of useful feedback negatively impacts productivity and profitability, not to mention the over-use of employee health benefits due to stress.
Most importantly, it is impacting the quality of people’s lives.
When you spend the majority of your week in uncertainty and fear, life becomes burdensome very quickly. And the sad part is, it is neither expensive nor difficult to fix. Keep reading for how.
Humans inherently want feedback. It’s why children want us to watch as they perform feats on the playground, why we look for clues in the faces of others when we talk, and why we want our immediate supervisors to let us know how we’re doing.
Unfortunately, too many managers believe that a simple, “Good work,” will suffice. Or worse, in the absence of “good work,” a torturous silence. I use the word “torturous” deliberately – it feels that way when you’re on the receiving end of silence instead of feedback. (Silence is a form of negative feedback whether you mean it that way or not.)
Whether it’s “good work” or silence, what your employees crave are details. What did you like, what could I do better, how can I improve? Even those employees you think don’t care want detailed feedback. If for no other reason, they want to know how to keep you “off their backs.” (Smile)
The LB/NT Process is a simple, yet incredibly effective way to provide feedback.
First, you use two questions to inspire your team member to evaluate their own performance: (1) What did you like best (LB) about what you did? and (2) What would you do differently next time? (NT) LB/NT
Once you’ve gotten their self-feedback, take it into consideration as you tell them the answers to the same two questions: (1) What did you like best about their performance, and (2) what, if anything, would you like them to do differently next time?
Not only does this process satisfy their strong need for feedback, it teaches them important skills like ownership of results. It is also a quick and easy way for you to develop them in areas where they need it.
This election is over. Throughout the trials and tribulations we continually heard, “Why can’t we talk to each other rather than at each other?
We all crave dialogue. We resist monologue. Let me rephrase that – we resist the monologues of others but love the sound of our own voices.
It’s easier to see the lack of dialogue in the extreme rhetoric of what’s happening politically. It’s more difficult to see that we all engage in some version of this in our own lives.
Because my work is focused on Employee Engagement, I see it most clearly in the work environment. It doesn’t matter whether it’s leaders or front-line workers, we are making more declarative statements than we are asking questions.
The formula for dialogue is simple:
Questions = dialogue
Statements = monologue
In workplace situations, there are great questions to ask that can stimulate some eye-opening dialogue:
These questions have something in common: they can’t be answered “yes” or “no” and so open up a dialogue.
A monologue can feel like an assault. A dialogue is an invitation to participate.
If you’re bone-tired of the divisiveness we’re being subjected to, why not take on the task of improving your corner of the world? Encourage dialogue at work. Heck! Why not try it at home, as well?
Like the old joke goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One small bite at a time.”
How do you get people to talk with each other? One question at a time.
Every single interaction with a team member is an opportunity for that person’s growth and their supervisor’s freedom.
Each time you interact with an employee if, instead of answering questions, you ask questions, then you are continually developing them.
Employee: I’m not sure how you want me to set up this report you requested.
You: What are your ideas for setting it up?
This type of interaction accomplishes three things:
This is called the Socratic Delegation Process and results in direct employee development (we used to call it “hands on development” but that term is problematic these days).
Most direct supervisors act as “answer machines” when it comes to interacting with their direct reports. The trap here is that you then become indispensable–and it is a trap.
If your department cannot function without your presence then you can kiss any potential promotion goodbye. Taking you out of the department would be too risky for the overall business or organization.
More importantly, you end up with a team that is “phoning it in” because they’re not engaged–they think that’s your job.