Not Too Picky Feedback
This guidance recommends giving negative feedback only after a second instance, and only ON the second instance.
We've said many times that too many of us as managers wait too long to give feedback. Our overly simplistic model is driving down a straight road with our hand on top of the wheel. (You can have your cell phone in the other hand if it makes it feel more like you're really driving.) Imagine not moving your hand AT ALL. Even if the road is straight, and you were pointed straight, in 90 seconds you're going to end up almost in the ditch. If you find yourself in that situation, you're going to jerk the wheel hard to get back into your lane.
Managers see a direct doing something wrong, but they shrug it off. He's a good performer. Ahh, that'll pass. It's a small thing. I'll say something once a pattern develops. And then - in the managerial equivalent of 90 seconds of driving- suddenly we're having to have a conversation.Suddenly, there's a problem we need to discuss.Suddenly, it's stop by my office at the end of your day.
Nobody likes this model. Nobody suggests it works. But boy do managers defend their broken model when we suggest NOT waiting! The Manager Tools feedback model suggests doing what you ACTUALLY do when you're driving down a totally straight road: making small, even imperceptible, corrections constantly. NOT waiting until your direct is almost in the ditch, and you have to have one of those tough conversations we all dread.
And how do managers defend their broken model? Oh, well, I can't be giving feedback constantly. If we make small corrections, my directs will think they're always in trouble. And I want to be a little forgiving, after all. Won't they think I'm being picky?
So, for all you managers who think the Manager Tools Feedback Model is too picky, here's the cast for you. If you're uncomfortable giving negative feedback so quickly when things aren't quite right ... you don't have to. Here's why, and how.