Hello everyone;

I have been working on my ability to ask for feedback (some of my team members are willing to provide feedback, while some aren't) and I am revisiting the feedback posts. Today I will be doing the STOP/START/CONTINUE exercise and I will post the results later.

I wanted to share the results of a "feedback" session that an upper level manager had during a skip level meeting (in which my manager and others were there taking notes). During this meeting (in which I was not there) one of my directs provided some stinging feedback about my manager's support of our team, which was duly noted by the upper manager. After the meeting I got a phone call from my manager "asking" me to counsel my subordinate regarding the feedback and that it was not appreciated. I briefly spoke to my subordinate about this but did not reprimand her. As a side note, how would you handle this kind of counseling to a subordinate of this sort? I explained that the skip level was not an effective skip level since everyone's direct managers were there (except for me, which makes me wonder why I was not invited), was that a bad idea? I feel that I may have subverted my manager's authority by doing that. How would you all have addressed it?

jhack's picture

[quote="CalKen"]...everyone's direct managers were there (except for me, which makes me wonder why I was not invited) [/quote]

Your boss was there. His boss was there. Your peers were there. Your directs were there. You weren't invited. It sounds like you were, in fact, specifically excluded.

This was not a "skip level" meeting. This was a "town hall" meeting. Very unusual to exclude anyone from these types of meetings. You need to do some nosing around to find out if your job is at risk.

As for your direct: a reprimand is not in order. Coaching on handling executives four levels up from their level, that would be appropriate. Coaching on how to present concerns without sounding negative would also be appropriate. Ask if you'd like more detail here.

These town hall meetings often have someone bring up tough or embarassing questions. Executives should know and expect this. But they still dislike when it happens. And telling the boss how they could do it differently is also not appreciated.

So you probably shouldn't have focused on the way the meeting was set up. Your primary concern should be your standing in the organization.


CalKen's picture

Great, thanks for the feedback.

I'll do some nosing around and see what's up. Your point makes complete sense, that I should have discussed the behavior instead of the environment.

I wanted to quickly show some results of a START/STOP/CONTINUE exercise I held. I was surprised in the amount of feedback, and like Mike and Mark said in their podcast, I took it and did not say anything to defend anything. Surprisingly, my team wanted to discuss the results as a team afterwards so we spent some time afterwards going over some of the items.

Some of the major ones:

START: ensuring all meetings are in online meeting calendar (my fault as I feel that not all meetings may get on the online meeting calendar), cross training, desktop references, training more.

STOP: a couple of reports we do for upper management were listed. Their concern is that these reports may be taken out of context and that they are (in their eyes) non-value added.

CONTINUE: Weekly Team Meetings, O3's (although one person asked that they be every other week and not weekly).

jhack's picture

If your upper management expects those reports, don't STOP doing them. Ask the recipients how the reports could be of greater value. Let them decide if/how to proceed.

You might redesign them (focus on milestones or metrics), you might simply summarize what's in them, or you might provide a completely new report that provides upper management with visibility into your operation.


US41's picture

Your next step is simple: Give the feedback to your direct. Get with your boss, get a quote, ask about facial expressions, volume of speech, speed of speech, interrupting, or other irritating *behaviors*. Do not come away with generalized "usurper" accusations or characterizations. Do not come back with "tone of voice" since that is in the ear of the listener.

Take the list of behaviors and go visit your direct.


"Dude, can we talk about the meeting the other day real quick. OK - when you stand up and very loudly said "insert quote" really fast to my boss in a meeting, you made me look bad in front of my boss and all of those people... not so good. Next time you are in a meeting like that and you have some complaints to share, how could you do that differently?"

[i]*insert typical history lesson about how you misunderstood or why it was necessary in the attempt to avoid owning it that is typical for people who do not receive daily feedback*[/i]

"OK, that's nice. But you can't loudly stand down my boss in front of everyone... or even alone. That doesn't work for me, and I'm the boss. So what will you do differently next time?"

Eventually they will say "I don't know" or they will own it and say "Bring the complaint to you privately?" The second is preferred.

"OK, well let's brainstorm some ideas real quick. Giving my boss your complaints publicly doesn't work. What's the opposite of public? My boss seems to be the wrong person... who would be a good person?"

Sorry to provide so much "what if" feedback guidance, but my own directs who are managers seem to need this sort of example more than the feedback model since our strong-willed team members sometimes push back on owning the future behavior, so that's the place I am in right now.