I'm not necessarily looking for advice because I know what the correct behaviors from me are, but rather to expose a little bit of my laziness in the hopes that a public airing will help me step up and be accountable.

My directs are increasingly stressed as the holidays approach (our busiest time for we support retail clients through the "black" days of the year), but they're letting that show through to our clients on the phone, and sometimes I cringe overhearing their conversations. Immediate feedback using the model is NECESSARY but I'm not often doing it, rather using the old model of just telling them what they did wrong. That's of course met with typical responses - obstinence, disagreement, frustration.

Behavior change, behavior change.... I want it and I hope the feedback model will increase its chances for occuring, so I have to give it a shot rather than wussing out and being the passive, cringing manager.

Thank you all for your continued posts all over these forums and your success stories - they keep me going.

I already know how to tailor my "here's what happens" to fit their very different DISC profiles, so plunging in is the only needed step. . .

*deep breath in, ready to open the bag of potato chips*

juliahhavener's picture
Licensee Badge's the hardest time of year to get through. That said, the potato chips are THE way to go.

Just get out there and do it. One at a time. Light, easy, breathing.

Tell us how you do!

jhack's picture

I also find feedback to be the hardest of all the MT recommendations. Good luck - you can do it!


WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

It's only hard at first. Breathe out, do one, and you'll find it wasn't that bad. Then the next one will be fractionally easier. Soon, you won't have to focus so much on breathing. :)

And hey, it's normal. Don't beat yourself up over it.

lazerus's picture

Agreed. Feedback is a stretch for some of us. I started by practicing with the couple of people with whom I had good rapport. Also, affirming feedback is 5:1 adjusting feedback. Just give positive feedback when you catch them doing it right, with people you trust. Practice, then move out from there. Good luck.

akinsgre's picture

Wow..I feel like I'm joining a little support group here :-)

I've been giving feedback fairly regularly over the last few months. But I find myself giving it more to some than others (who don't deserve it less, but are whom I have less chances to communicate).

Also, I have a difficult time "presenting" the model correctly. "The When you did", and "Here's what happens" often don't seem very effective.

I'm usually giving two - three a day for a four person team.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Shoot for a goal of 10 seconds or less. Shorter translates to MORE, for most managers.

Also, try putting 5 poker chips or the like in your pocket. When you give feedback, move one from one side to the other.

And, forget about negative. POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE. The positive will drive out the negative behaviors, too.

One more time: [b]positive feedback will ALSO drive out negative behaviors.[/b]


RichRuh's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

I cannot emphasize enough the benefits of giving [b]positive[/b] feedback.

Too many managers only talk to their directs when they screw up. "Oh, they know they are doing a good job," managers say to themselves. [i]Maybe[/i], but they sure don't know that you think so.

After the first few times, the words "Can I give you some feedback?" will no longer be met with deer-in-the-headlights stares of panics. You'll start getting smiles.

And those smiles that you receive from positive feedback will make it easier for you to deliver feedback the next time- a positive feedback loop, if you will. :)

Positive feedback will, over time, change the culture, the underlying vibe, in your group. It will make your team a fun, enjoyable place to work.

Go ahead, spread some positive vibes in your organization. :D


MattJBeckwith's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

I will echo the voice of others here... keep doing it and give a TON of affirming feedback. It will seem unnatural until you do it so often that you do it without thinking.

Don't let a day go by without giving feedback. It is the job of the manager to guide each direct report by giving feedback to encourage effective behavior. I'm sure there is a lot more good stuff (as minor as they may seem) that goes on than there is bad stuff.

Every day, that was the key for me.

Keep us posted. I can't wait to hear how great you get at it down the road!

misstenacity's picture

I think being naturally a little shy and a LOT anti-confrontational, the first sentence is the hardest and sometimes seems the most formal: "Can I give you some feedback?". Even putting a "hey, " in front of it, its almost so formal it seems awkward or silly to blurt it out, and its that hesitation where I get "lost". :?

The rest of it is very logical to me, but that first question.... ooh.

Thanks for joining my support group, and happy winter/holiday/present-giving-season to everyone!


terrih's picture

Oooh, you said it. :D

jhack's picture

The text can vary: "Can I share something with you?" or "Can I tell you something I noticed?" also work. As long as you ask, you can do so with words that are more comfortable for you.


WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

John's definitely on the spot about changing the wording if that helps. For me it was getting over the concept that feedback was bad. Here comes the bad news... I think that's why M&M have you start out with positive only; to remove the stigma of the phrase. Then, once the phrase is just a communication, you can adjust.

Long and short - you just gotta do it. That's why you get the big paycheck. :)

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

So, it's not laziness, it's fear of conflict.

Sorry to hear that - there's only more conflict to come if you don't do it.

Maybe fear of even bigger failure can be a motivator.

If you are not willing to behave through your fear - courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to act in spite of it - it's unlikely you will do well long term as a manager.

Commit to trying it just once a week, and make it ALL POSITIVE.


US41's picture


Maybe some examples would be of help to guide those of us who see red spots instead of bedsheets?

For example, someone comes to a meeting 15 mins late every time we have a meeting. How can I use positive feedback with this person to correct that behavior?

Do I wait for them to come to a meeting on time and then leap for joy - hoping that sometime within the next three months they actually do it while I am holding back the negative feedback?

Some guidance as to how to use positive feedback to extinguish negative behaviors would be greatly appreciated.

juliahhavener's picture
Licensee Badge

Are they on time to anything? Give feedback for that...whether it's a O3, a project meeting, or getting to work.

I also get them used to hearing it for other unrelated things. Sometimes it makes them wonder about what they DON'T hear it for.

US41's picture

[quote="juliahdoyle"]Are they on time to anything? Give feedback for that...whether it's a O3, a project meeting, or getting to work.

I also get them used to hearing it for other unrelated things. Sometimes it makes them wonder about what they DON'T hear it for.[/quote]

I am often surprised by the places my brain will not go if not for another pulling me. Thank you.

juliahhavener's picture
Licensee Badge

I think that goes for all of us - I'm glad it helped!

Comparable or not, one of the things that helped me identify behaviors and ways to shape them was a book writing about behavioral conditioning of animals by Karen Prior called Don't Shoot the Dog. It's not really about dogs so much as it is shaping behaviors you want (and don't want).

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Ahh, a seminal question. Not surprised it was you, sir.

Obviously, you don't "praise" ineffective behavior. Rather, switch your focus to things they ARE doing well. Give positive feedback in THOSE areas.

If the only issue is lateness to meetings, give positive feedback for work quality, or being timely in the morning, or helping out a teammate.

Another way of looking at this is that if there is NOTHING to see as positive ( I hear this a LOT), then just fire them, because everything IS negative.

So, since you're not firing, there are positives. So find them.

Now, you're probably wondering about the negatives. Two thoughts there: first, often those that gets lots of positive feedback come to you and ASK for negatives. As in, "hey, you know, I can hear negatives too." Now, if you're me (and you are in many ways), you jump RIGHT on that. "Well, to be frank, may I give you some feedback?"

Or, you can wait until you see the behavior (and either you will and the foundation is laid for feedback that happens to be adjusting rather than affirming) or you won't, and then, well, positive feedback indirectly DID change negative behavior.

How's that?


PS: Nearly perfect timing: near term cast.

jhack's picture

There is also a very challenging but effective technique called "shaping." Shaping involves giving affirming feedback (or other rewards) for behavior that is close to what you're looking for, and then continuing to affirm behaviors that move closer and closer to the desired goal.

So if they are 5 minutes late rather than 15, you provide affirming feedback to their approaching the goal. You're not saying the behavior is good, but you're rewarding the trend.

Yes, you have to be careful so as not to make 5 minutes late "good" but you can see how this might work.


US41's picture

Got it. Thanks, Mark!