What I'd love to tell this DR is that he brings up the most bizarre things ever in meetings that leave most of us scratching our heads in amazement but I know I can't really tell him that. I know the feedback model focuses on action/behaviour rather than feelings so I'm trying to figure out how to define that behaviour.
For instance, our company recently announced "no merit increases until 2010" and I pulled the team into an impromptu online chat (we're all virtual) so that we could sort through any questions/concerns over that announcement. Most of the questions from the folks were reasonable:
- is it just this year or will we get another one like this next year?
- will they still honor the tuition assistance stuff?
- will we still get the 3% increase for obtaining our certifications?
- will our bonus structure be impacted?
This one DR though let loose with "I just hope that we do not see double digit income for this fiscal year.....at our expense."
I asked him to clarify with "I'm not sure I understand -- are you thinking that the company will post profits but they won't really be profits from clients so much as reduction of stuff from the ee's?"
His response was "If the company will post NOI profit at 10% or higher by the end of fiscal year, then I feel it's our merit increase that help to get there."
This DR is another of my "English as Second Language" speakers and in many of the group meetings we attend, he also expresses a great deal of hesitation and/or searching for the right words or how to articulate his thoughts.
Recognizing that I'm a high (through the roof) D, I have been hesitant to approach him with this because I don't want to be insensitive to his style (thoughtful, contemplative, precise) and give correcting feedback because it's not my style (direct, pointed, rapid-fire, etc.)
I also don't know that feedback along the lines of "When you pause and stammer while addressing a group on a conference call, minds start to wander and you don't come across as confidently as the subject matter expert that you are." The pauses and stammers are likely ESL by-products so can I really give correcting feedback in that regard?
The NOI comment in the "no raises" discussion was a bit perplexing though I believe I handled it fairly effectively (in terms of providing an answer) it just seemed to divert the whole conversation the group was having.
I can't quite put my finger on what it is that's so odd or bizarre. If I'm not able to pinpoint the behaviour, how can I address it with feedback?!
I know there's at least one other example of "What kind of goofy-ass rabbit hole do you have the group off chasing now?" but it was from a meeting that I was barely paying attention to (other fires to put out that required more of my attention while multi-tasking.)
My gut would say the feedback could be "When you go off-topic in meetings, it's distracting for the group and wastes time." My concern over that approach would be that he could easily (and almost rightfully) say that his NOI comment was on-topic in that it was a concern of his & the meeting was to address "questions AND concerns."
Should I just let it go?
FWIW, this DR actually applied for the manager position I ultimately got but he didn't make it past the HR screener person because of his lack of preparation (from what he told me) and his speaking style (from what I surmise/assume.) He's told me that he'd like to get into a different position within the company that involves more face-to-face contact with people instead of his current virtual / computer / telephone role. I'm planning to coach & mentor him on his public speaking and I've already given the whole team a big packet of interviewing tips.
I just cringe at the thought of this guy trying to interview or be in face-to-face situations with the stammering, pauses, bizarre rabbit hole statements, etc.