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Submitted by wendii on


Hi All,

I've got a question. In the podcast where you describe feedback given to Jan, you seem to take the feedback given to you by others at face value. My instinct would be to check that the situation happened as the complainer said - either from another witness or from Jan herself. I would fear that Jan would say - I didn't say that, he said this and I said that, and I'd get into a whole discussion where I'm on the back foot rather than something that's brief and effective.

Is everyone completely truthful in your worlds :-) or do you have a different way of dealing with that?



Mark's picture
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It's a great question, one that we really haven't addressed directly, yet surely you're not the only person to be thinking this.

Yes, everyone in my world is always truthful.


Seriously: I will respond more fully (and accurately) shortly. I'm on an exceptionally full trip right now, and don't get back to the office til Thursday night. I will post fully on Friday.


Todd G's picture


I agree with you. Before making your decisions based on one side of the story, get the whole picture. Mark it sounded like in the one case where Jack goes to the boss and tells the boss how Jan is treating him on the project, really sounds to me like a "tattle-tale" scenario. I can understand the need for Jack to mellow out and collect his thoughts, but why in this situation didn't he give Jan the feedback first and then if he doesn't get anywhere with this, then go to the boss.

Do we see people not being able to confront people first and go to the "security" of their bosses as a last resort? I think in this situation, the response could have been:

Jack: "Jan can I give you feedback"? First, I can see your upset about me being late with this project. However, I was working on a project for "the boss" which he needed to have done earlier than the project I was working on for you. I really felt on the defensive and angry when you confronted me and spoke to me the way you did......... This way, if Jan still had a problem with Jack because the project was behind, then she can confront the boss with her concerns.

I think this conversation would have proved more beneficial in the long run and didn't have to involve the boss if everything went smooth.

Is there a time where "telling" on your co-workers really makes a difference? Personally, I want to have the face-to-face with a colleague if they have a problem. I am a big boy and can accept feedback, it could be something very simple and misunderstood that needs clarification.

MikeK's picture


I've come across this a lot at my workplace and it used to make things much more difficult before I knew how to focus on that person. It is important to let them tell their side of the story and DON'T make ANY accusations, you will just feed the fire. Ask them to tell you what happened. Once you hear their side, and whether they have the same story as what you heard previously or not, be prepared to give feedback on their behavior or even the way they respond to you asking for an explanation. If they explain themselves and you have no reason to provide feedback according to them, simply ask them why they think the other person felt the way they did, but don't agreee or disagree with their story, leave it as a story.

I've had people get angry or comment that I offended them just for asking. That can be tough. I've learned since to let them express their concerns, assure them you are dealing with them and not the other person at that time and don't let them point the finger for who started it or whos fault it was. Focus on them and the fact that it affects performance or the workplace in some way and that is why you are dealing with it. As Mark put it in some early feedback podcasts, there is nothing that is offlimits for feedback if it is affecting performace. Explain that to them...

Also, don't agree with their reasoning for why they behaved the way they did. If the behavior is unacceptable to you so that you need to provide the feedback in the first place, whatever triggered it is a separate issue and all you can do is assure them that you will deal with that separate. You might decide to do nothing and you should be able to tell them that if you feel that is the best decision, since sometimes it is.

Anyway, I'm sure there are whole podcasts alone on these types of issues but I do agree with your initial comment to mark, people just don't always respond the way mark gives examples. My experience is that they (certain individuals at least) get very defensive, upset or offended or some just shutdown completely and wont respond or talk about. I think the current podcasts about personally types and how you approach and deal with those people plays a BIG role in this, I'm excited to hear the remaining sections of the DISC model.


Mark's picture
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Great comments in this thread! Thanks for sharing with a fellow MT community member.

I'll do my best to address all the issues raised.

I want to start by reminding everyone that it's taken years of work to come up with the feedback model as I've shared it with you, and the same is generally true of the coaching model and one on ones. I sometimes hear a sense of, "gee, this is harder than I thought it would be... here's a situation that Mark doesn't address."

And, you're right. There are HUNDREDS of situations we haven't addressed. This is why we'll have free podcasts for YEARS to come, and we're happy to. We'll never reach the bottom of our stack.

Mike and I regularly struggle with boiling everything down to its essence. We're doing a special podcast for a client this week and what I normally would spend 2 full days of client site time on, for a fee of $6,000, we're putting into a couple of podcasts. By definition, we're leaving a lot of stuff out.

When we do boil stuff down, it's sometimes like boiling down soup: the essence of soup IS in the bottom of the pot (all the ingredients in the recipe are there), but without the water, it's really not soup. This is a silly way of saying, you've heard an hour or two of teachings that I sometimes spend 3 days on with an executive, honing the coaching I do after seeing him or her deliver it. We just can't (in one or two podcasts) get everything just right. And even when we think we do, someone brings up a new situation.

And that's the nature of management. People are different, subtly, and so situations sometimes require delicacy. And we don't always capture that. Good soup DOES have water in it. :wink:

Okay, off my soapbox.

Wendi's point is valid. I wasn't clear enough in my example. I could have done better with a little more detail. Obviously, I take into account ALL KINDS OF THINGS when I hear feedback from one person about another. If the person with the feedback brings old news, and they're an average performer, about my best performer, and it's not feedback that directly addresses something I'm coaching on, and it's not commensurate with my knowledge of the person to whom I'm being asked to pass this along to, I'm going to say thanks and do NOTHING.

I have a BIG difference in my head between taking in information (hearing) and DOING something about it. If I were confronted about whether I had shared it, I wouldn't have any problem, in this situation, saying, "no, I didn't. I certainly appreciated you sharing it with me, and always am happy to hear anything about my team. In this situation, I decided to do nothing." Someone who assumes my listening was an indicator of guaranteed behavior isn't very smart and doesn't know me very well. I ABSOLUTELY have NO RESPONSIBILITY to give this person any loop-closing response or information. I've learned something about my team, and I've decided what to do. I'm leading my team, and it makes more sense not to share right now.

So, to be clear, I don't take everything at face value.

But sometimes, I DO believe what I'm told. I do NOT play detective, and get three other opinions generally... if I believe what I am told, I act on it.

How do I act on it? I give feedback. Now, remember, I don't think feedback is any big deal. After I've given most people about 20 pieces of feedback, they're over their issues with it as well. (We'll recur to those who react defensively shortly). Mike can tell you, I don't act as if feedback is any big deal. [He can also tell you that the majority of people who give ME feedback proceed to obliterate the model...:-)]

When I give feedback in this situation (having decided to believe it, considering the source, and the timing, and the recipient, and the value, and the context, all of for which I have very few metrics), I have decided the feedback is JUSTIFIED. Because I'm giving feedback, I'm NEVER going to get into a discussion about who REALLY did what, or an analysis of what REALLY happened, etc. I know those things are possible, but I don't engage on them.

Here: "May I...?"


"When you say what you said, here's what happens. Blah, blah, blah... What might you have done differently?"

"BUT WAIT MARK! I didn't say that! She hates me! That's not what really happened!!! Etc. Etc."

SMILING "Well, Bob, thanks for that, but I'm not all that excited about this. What could you have done differently?"

"but wait!..."

STILL SMILING. "Bob, I'm not going to argue about what happened. Under the circumstances, what might you do differently next time?"

"But I challenge the premise of the question!"

MARK, STILL SMILING: "Man, I hope you're this passionate about work we do for the team. I love it! Really, though, when you're in a situation like this again, what might you do differently?"

It's possible that Bob never admits to what happened. I may have to say, "assume it's hypothetical: what could you have done differently?"

...Hopefully by now, you're getting my point, and Bob is too. But at some point, this situation stops being about the original issue, and becomes about Bob not getting the fact that I AM OVER THE ORIGINAL SITUATION AND AM TRYING TO HELP HIM DO THE SAME, and HE IS NOT. :-)

Have I been wrong? YOU BET. LOTS. More than anyone else with the feedback model, because I've used it more, probably. But once again, remember, if I'm giving you feedback, it's not about you. I hope people can learn from situations that they HAVEN'T been in...

Yes, it's possible Bob is just afraid I'll think badly of him, or that this other person has an issue with him.

First off, if Bob thinks I would think badly of him... well, that's where this example breaks down, because my folks would know I don't. The defensiveness is what would bother me. It's the equivalent of telling someone they have lint on their shirt and being called a fashion Nazi.

If Bob's worried about the other person, I would suggest to Bob that if I'm giving the feedback, I've determined there's validity. If I'm wrong, it'll come out in the wash in the long run.

Gong back to Wendii's post, my feedback WOULD BE brief and effective, because feedback is not a situation where I'm going to play who shot John. If we need to make it hypothetical to learn, fine. If the person receiving feedback wants to make this into a much bigger deal, we'll do that later, and he/she can put their thoughts together.

If they do come back to me and want to go back to the situation, I will listen respectfully and tell them, "Okay, I got it. Maybe I was wrong. Let's not try to make too big a deal out of this, though... you're part of my team, and when I have an issue, and it's important enough to warrant this kind of discussion, you'll know it."

I once told one of my team the story of the two monks who belonged to an order that forbid contact with women. While travelling, they came across a lady on one side of a river unable to get across, for fear of ruining her dress. One monk picked her and carried her across on his back. On the other side, she went one way, and the monks a different way. After hours of stewing, the one who hadn't helped her said, "You've broken our vows! You're not supposed to have contact with women!!!!" And the other monk said, "Are you still carrying her around? I left her back at the river hours ago."

boy - this is a long winded way of saying, DON'T get into a "whole discussion." Give the feedback. If they want to come back to you later, use it as an opportunity to make LESS of a deal of it.


I don't care for tattle-tales. sorry I didn't make that clear. They exist, and I consider the source.

Yes, I would also ask Jack why he didn't talk to her. If he worked for me, I'd teach him the model, and ask him to go to Jan. If he wouldn't he lets me off the hook. I do NOT like playing sheriff.

[AND. Sometimes, Jan did what Jack alleges, and it's time for me to get involved.]

I generally disagree with Mike's post regarding hearing their side first. He's not wrong, I just disagree with him. If you've decided to give feedback, and the recipient can talk you out of it, the issue is yours in terms of how well you knew what you were getting into. Once I've decided (admittedly, I've done this thousands of times, and have been wrong several times), there isn't a "their side". As I said above, I might have a separate conversation with them, and maybe we agree to disagree agreeably. But it's not my job to be a counselor and hear everyone out. I love my folks.... AND I'm responsible for results.

I think if you decide to give feedback, and then end up leaving it as a story, you run the risk of creating good story tellers.

As I've alluded to above, I've had people get angry at me. I've found that to be much more about THEM than the situation. A good manager pays enough attention that any one situation can be WILDLY wrong and it won't matter in the long run.

One other comment of Mike's bears a response: that people don't always respond the way I give examples. Boy, is he right about that. They respond differently every time. Hopefully, the above example is helpful to show a different outcome.

Mike makes several other excellent comments as well, about more podcasts, and feedback is about performance.

Final point: good soup is hard to make. The really good chefs study for years and still tweak things. Tiger Woods on 60 Minutes tonight said he'd changed his swing (HIS SWING, his perfect swing) TWICE in the past 10 years.

Clearly, it's the journey, and not the destination.

It's a privilege!


MikeK's picture

I generally disagree with Mike's post regarding hearing their side first. He's not wrong, I just disagree with him. If you've decided to give feedback, and the recipient can talk you out of it, the issue is yours in terms of how well you knew what you were getting into.[/quote]

We'll have to agree to disagree on that one then Mark... Everything I've learned about leadership falls back to listening to your team so until I learn differently about management, I truely believe it and will stick with it. It has definitely payed off in my career.

Anyway, great "Extended Version" of your podcast. I'm sure I speak for wendii as well, that this kind of response and detail is just over the top!!

You guys are doing a fantastic service here and I personally am very grateful! Thanks again for giving me so much to learn in such a compressed format! :D I really look forward to that RSS Newsfeed going bold on Sunday evenings!

mauzenne's picture
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What a great way to disagree! This is probably not the right place to get into it, but you would be amazed at the number of folks that intend to give Mark and I positive feedback, but end up ending the note with "adjusting feedback" that just puts a damper on what I'm sure was intended to be a positive note. (And, by the way, this particular unproductive process is practiced by a lot of managers when giving feedback -- not recommended).

On the other hand, you disagreed and left the note with an upbeat message. Awesome! I, for one, find it a lot easier to take feedback under those conditions.

Well done!


Mark's picture
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Yeah, what Mike said! Thanks for choosing to "disagree agreeably."

Glad you liked the post. After I read it, I thought, WOW, there's a couple of book chapters!


wendii's picture
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I'm sorry it's taken so long to respond to a post you obviously took time and care over. Finally, I've had time to read slowly. take it in and give it the thought it deserves.

Two things strike me; first, if you gave me feedback I didn't think was justified at face value, you're right, I would think.. is this person seeing something I'm not, did I do something that can be construed differently to the way I meant it.. I wouldn't blow up in your face. So good employees (of which I am obviously one!) will not come back in your face even if at first thought the feedback isn't justified.

Second, I think my reaction to the whole model was based more on what was going on in my head at the time, the environment that I was living in, because 6 weeks later in a different environment.. whole different feeling about the subject!!!!

As Mike said - and he definately speaks for me...

"this kind of response and detail is just over the top!! "

thank you so much


Mark's picture
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No worries! I am glad it was helpful. One of my challenges in all of this guidance from a distance is that there are such subtleties in play so often, and even long posts worry me for their inherent thinness. There are times when I feel as if I'm writing " A Brief History of Time."

Nevertheless, this is what I was put on earth professionally to do.

Glad you're in a new place and doing well.


lambertw's picture
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Hi Mark and Michael,

I have been an avid listener since your first Feedback Model podcast and have been trying it out since then. As you say, it is more difficult than it sounds. But I'm sticking with it...

wendii's original question on this thread is one that has been bothering me for several months now, and the reason I actually logged in today and searched for this thread is because you touched on this "who shot john" problem in your most recent (5/1/06) podcast on "Receiving feedback about your directs".

Your discussion here is a really important aspect of the Feedback Model. I hope you devote a podcast (or two) to this in the future.

I would also like to thank you for your recommendation of the Lucht book on Executive Recruiting. I had never heard of this book but am reading it now and have learned A LOT!

Please keep up the great work.