Monthly Archives: November 2019

GIVING FEEDBACK – SWEET OR SOUR?

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Feedback is an effective communication tool because it is based on fact and observation. The author defines feedback as “telling people on a regular basis how they are doing in relation to the expectations and goals.” This communication should focus on helping employees meet their objectives.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 7.15.55 pmFeedback should be given immediately after observing a certain behavior, and it should be done face to face, or at least voice to voice. By giving feedback on a regular basis, a collaborative relationship builds and becomes a stable characteristic of the work environment.

Managers should choose positive words when relaying feedback and convey them in a nonjudgmental tone. This ensures employees feel respected and are aware of what is important to the organization. Managers should be aware that feedback and stated expectations are inseparable. Without clearly stated expectations, employees may operate incorrectly while assuming they are on the right course. Without feedback, employees can only guess whether or not they are achieving expectations.

Carroll identifies two types of feedback that managers can give their employees: positive reinforcement and redirective feedback. Positive reinforcement rewards behaviors that managers would like to see repeated. It also satisfies a basic human need for approval that a paycheck alone cannot satisfy. Carroll offers a five-step process for delivering positive reinforcement feedback:

  1. Precisely state the goal, standard, performance expectation, or desired behavior.
  2. Describe the observed behavior in relation to the goal.
  3. Identify why the behavior is important.
  4. Ask that the behavior be repeated.
  5. Thank the employee.

Redirective feedback, on the other hand, lets an employee know that they must change their behavior in order to more closely align themselves with the goals of the organization. Managers should discuss this with the employee as soon as possible, as employees oftentimes have no idea they are not meeting the expectations of the organization. Managers need to be careful when delivering redirective feedback; if delivered poorly, it can appear angry and damage the relationship. The manager should be as collegial as possible and demonstrate his or her intention to help the employee succeed. Managers should follow a five-step process for delivering redirective feedback:

  1. Precisely state the goal, standard, performance expectation, or desired behavior.
  2. Describe the observed behavior in relation to the goal.
  3. Explain why the behavior demonstrated is not effective and how it impacts the efforts of others.
  4. Ask for the employee’s view of the situation, since the manager may not have a complete understanding.
  5. Ask the employee what steps they will take to meet expectations in the future.

In both situations, feedback should be directly linked to the goal that employees are supposed to achieve. Feedback should be done on a specific, case-by-case basis, and the manager should avoid using generalizations such as “you always” or “you never.” Facts should always be referenced, since feedback is not about the person but about their behaviors.

Giving effective feedback has numerous benefits aside from addressing the specific behavior. First, fears of the unknown are mitigated, as employees know they can count on feedback on a regular basis. Employees are encouraged to persevere when times get tough. In addition, relationships based on collegial feedback avoid blame and keep everyone focused on their goals.

DON’T HAVE TIME TO LISTEN?

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Listening is the greatest skill managers can possess; it is an integral part of all relationships. Listening proves that a manager cares, and it earns the trust of employees. In order to demonstrate attention, a manager should use open body language, make eye contact, and drop any busywork to openly face the employee. To further demonstrate they are listening, managers should ask for clarification and prove they want to understand effeccom1the employee better. This can be done by:

  • Restating comments using the speaker’s own words
  • Asking clarification questions
  • Paraphrasing what the speaker said

Requesting clarification makes it easier to deliver what people want. If a manager does not have time to listen, he or she should say so and make time for it in the future. A simple listening process for managers involves:

  • Focusing solely on the speaker
  • Eliminating the advice that they may want to offer at that moment
  • Using open body language
  • Clarifying what they think they heard

To be a first-rate manager, one must believe that communication is the most important tool in their arsenal, and he or she must actively put it into practice every day. Successful managers are engaging to their employees by being positive, open, and receptive to the needs of others. In doing so, managers are able to influence others and implement change throughout the organization, leading to outstanding collaboration and productivity.

TOP-TIER QUESTIONING TECHNIQUES

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Managers use questions in nearly every aspect of their business to gather information and opinions. Highly skilled managers, however, are familiar with questioning techniques that maximize communication of information and foster productive relationships. Asking the right questions can move work forward by stimulating individuals to conceptualize and make decisions, and to think creatively.

Managers who ask the right types of questions demonstrate respect and interest in their employees’ work, thereby setting the stage for an environment of learning and engagement. Done properly, questioning can boost a manager’s credibility. However, questioning should be done only if a manager intends to actually listen to the answer. Listening allows a more natural conversation to occur between manager and employee, as opposed to interrogation to extract specific information.

The author identifies four main types of questions that managers can employ:

  1. Open Questions – allow for a wide range of responses. This gives the person being questioned the opportunity to use their own judgment and convey what he or she thinks is important, thereby cultivating creativity and self-esteem. An open question encourages the employee to search for answers, and it challenges them to analyze situations. Managers can learn a great deal about how their employees think and operate based on their answers. The downside is that the information provided is often unsifted, and it therefore takes a manager longer to listen to and analyze it.
  2. Closed Questions – are used to gather specific information and facts quickly. If closed questions are used improperly, however, they can make the manager seem aloof, curt, or uninterested, and they may force a person into answering a certain way.
  3. Behavioral Questions – inquire about how a person has acted in certain situations in the past. These are useful during interviews with potential employees and during team training.
  4. Situational Questions – are similar to behavioral questions but are hypothetical, since they are based on speculation of how someone would act in the future. They allow managers to prepare their employees for potential problems, and they serve as a point of discussion for alternative ways to work in the future.