Hello everyone.

I'm sticking my toes in here, hoping for just a nibble of advice before I take the dive. I am listening to all the key podcasts and realize that I need to start feedback AND O3s [i]immediately[/i], but as I gather info & resolve:

- this is my first management job
- I am naturally conflict-avoiding, nervous when 'adjusting' people, and really great with anything techie or analytical
- I have only 2 DRs, who are incoming/outgoing customer support, in a startup company of 10 people (including the founder)
- I have been here over 3 months and not done a lick of the MT standard procedures, just been treading water. I need to swim!

So, my very first piece of feedback is still waiting to burst from my lungs, and I wanted to know if you all advise that to break the whole expectation problem of "hey the boss is going to tell me something, it must be BAD", should the very first feedback be good?

And, secondly, my 2 DRs work about 2 feet from each other in a room - is feedback verbally right in front of the other appropriate? (thoughts on Instant Messenger and how it might fit into this?)

Any existing topics that address these questions are more than welcome if I have so far been unable to find them....

Thank you everyone, and thank you Mike and Mark. I've already purchased a bunch of the books off the Amazon links and I am digging in to Drucker!

"Miss Tenacity"
in the great Southwestern US

TomW's picture
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I would say the first DOZEN feedbacks should be positive. No sandwich technique here (positive, negative, positive, which just conditions people to expect an adjusting feedback any time you praise them).

In the beginning, you break the fear barrier. When you finally get to an adjusting feedback, the person knows that you are mostly happy with them and they just have an ineffective behavior that you would like to see improved upon in the future. The commitment on their part to correct the behavior is key.

I would avoid feedback over IM, especially in the beginning. A year from now if you're out of the office a lot, maybe it could work.

For the privacy issue... I'll have to defer to others on that one. I'm not really sure.

jhack's picture

Tom is on the mark. IM, well, maybe never. But that might be a cultural thing.

And, you don't need to be in private unless the feedback is particularly difficult or personal. Positives (affirming) are fine, and most adjusting feedback should be minor "course corrections" and not seen as a big deal. Giving feedback in public makes it 'not a big deal.'


RichRuh's picture
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I manage computer programmers. My fingers cramp up every day sending IMs back and forth.

I have never given feedback over IM, and I don't plan to do so. Verbal communication is so much richer- tone of voice, hestiations and pauses, all of it. If you are concerned about the other direct hearing, could you use the phone?

The best is still face-to-face- then you get facial expressions and other body language to help gauge how the information is being received.


terrih's picture

Welcome, Miss T! You remind me of me 4 months ago! :)

Alas, I still struggle w/ feedback, but here's a story...

First feedback I gave was affirming and applied to 2 DRs in adjacent cubes, so I gave it to them together. When I started they both tensed up a bit, so I said, "It's OK, this is good!"

TomW's picture
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[quote="RichRuh"]I have never given feedback over IM, and I don't plan to do so. Verbal communication is so much richer- tone of voice, hesitations and pauses, all of it. [/quote]

Rich makes a really good point. When you listen to the podcasts, one of the biggest thing you hear is Mark's tone of voice in giving feedback. It's excited when giving affirming feedback and neutral to positive when giving adjusting feedback. You lose that with IMs.

WillDuke's picture
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No matter how you try to do it, feedback is going to be uncomfortable for everyone at first. Affirmative feedback is easier, so definitely start with that.

Get through it, it'll get better. Trust your instincts, you'll find your own way.

Oh, and welcome aboard!

misstenacity's picture

Thank you, Will, and thanks to everyone for the advice and support.

I just heard in one of the podcasts M&M reference an example where a beginning manager's first dozen or so feedbacks were positive.... so that's further encouragement.

Miss Tenacity

madamos's picture
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Welcome to the boards!

Definately start with affirming feedback. At the MT conference in DC Mark gave a very good tips on getting started with feedback.

Start by giving [b]only[/b] affirming feedback.
Keep giving affirming feedback until your direct reports [b]ask[/b] you for adjusting feedback. Many people have reported back after the conference that this works. Your direct reports will eventully tell you that it is OK to tell them when something needs work too!

If you follow this tip, it won't matter that your directs sit in cubes next to each other (since you are giving affirming feedback).

Also, you can use some time in your one on ones to give feedback.


juliahhavener's picture
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You've gotten lots of great advice already. I'm just going to weigh in on the IM question: As a general rule, I would say don't use it. You lose out on way too much. That being said, I HAVE used it...for positive feedback to someone I know extremely well, who is a friend - who happens to live 2 states away. Adjusting feedback I would NEVER give this way (and affirming only extremely rarely).

MattJBeckwith's picture
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Welcome to the boards, Miss Tenacity.

Those that have answered before me are all brilliant.

I will only add one point. Acknowledge the newness of the feedback model. Tell your directs that it is something that you learned to make you a more effective manager. I have found that being upfront about trying a new technique makes it easier to stay in the routine.

misstenacity's picture

I think right now I need to be a little patient and trickle out the affirming feedback. Its a little hard to sit on my hands when there is adjusting feedback that is going unsaid and needs to be addressed, but it has needed to be addressed for awhile now, so a little longer is not going to bring us to our knees.

One of my current favorites is the "that's not our responsibility" line. My answer is "they are our client and they are unhappy, period." Leading by example is helping in these cases, though.

I can understand that in the long run my DRs will be more responsive if I take it very slow, so that's how I'll run with it.

Thank you again to everyone.

James Gutherson's picture


One of my current favorites is the "that's not our responsibility" line. My answer is "they are our client and they are unhappy, period." Leading by example is helping in these cases, though.

Thank you again to everyone.[/quote]

Taking a little bit from DISC and a little from Maslow - try tailoring this response by explaining how an unhappy client can effect each individuals 'hygene' (ie their ability to be clothed, fed, sheltered, loved, educated, praised etc). My background is in Quality Management and a big part of that is showing the link between customer satisfaction and the health/survivability of the business and therefore the individuals paycheck.

thaGUma's picture

Before you give adjusting feedback (especially first time) always take a few minutes to consider the person and their role. Look for some positives.
At least you will get something to soften the blow:'Jack, you are the best XYX in the team AND when you do ...' Jack things 'wow I am the best - I want to change the small bit needed to stay there'. Goes home happy because no-one had previously thought to tell him how important he is and makes him more willing to change.

The time of reflection also lets you review the role, the person and the future. 5 mins well spent.


misstenacity's picture

I recently listened to the 'micro-communications' podcast, the one about listening, and used the techniques today in my company meeting.

Wow does facing someone FULLY when they are speaking make a difference. I felt more in control, [i]almost[/i] in an aggressive way, and I was definitely engaged more fully in the presenter's points.

One very intriguing thing is that the person who did not respond favorably to my "aggression" was the one person in the company whom I believe fears that I will usurp/transcend their role within the organization.

Very powerful stuff, this "communication is what the listener does"!

Hope everyone is having an excellent week.

MattJBeckwith's picture
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Miss T, that is awesome! There are probably a lot of managers here that are envious of you given that you are discovering M-T during your first management job. Kudos to you for being so open!

misstenacity's picture

Interesting.... I just took my DISC test and found that I was right about most of how I thought the numbers would go, but not dead on:


I definitely saw the high C a mile away, but also figured I would be a higher "i" than I am. Actually, it does make some sense because when taking the test I was instructed to think of how I am "at work" - and when I am [i]not[/i] at work, socializing and getting into the hobbies I love, the "i" tends to come out more.

In a way, I'm pleased with the result. I think I can try to enhance my D to combat my natural nervousness around people whose opinions I value (or fear, however you want to spin it).

misstenacity's picture

Just completed my first set of One on Ones, and it was a combination of exhilarating, nerve-wracking, and just plain enjoyable.

I can sense already (why oh why didn't I start these earlier?) that my team is a little bit floored and pleased with the fact that I actually care about them and their development.

Good things will start to flow now that I'm getting into the MT rhythm.

juliahhavener's picture
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Congratulations! Once you get moving, it's really amazing the things that come up.

Mark's picture
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Welcome aboard!

You're getting great recommendations here. Feedback is face to face or over the phone.

And gee, a High C who doesn't like conflict and likes technical things. Go figure!

My only concern is "trickling out" affirming feedback. If you haven't fired them, there's good things happening. Note them, even when small. It's the equivalent of a thank you - there's no implied obligation for future recompense. It's also a way of sending a message that the old stupid way of managing - that EVERYONE seems to accept - is dead.

Sorry I was gone so long; good to be back.


Mark's picture
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As a general rule, don't give feedback to two people at the same time. One at a time, one at a time...even good stuff.