What To Say

All right. Enough about theory. Let’s get into the Manager Tools Feedback Tools or Feedback Model, depending upon how long you’ve been listening to our podcast. We’ve created some words that you can say and that you can memorize to make it easy for you, so that you don’t have to think about what you’re going to say, when you approach your direct, when you’re going to give them positive or negative feedback.

We’ve also, hopefully, proved to you that the idea, the thought behind that feedback is a fundamentally positive one. You’re picturing your direct doing something right in the future, so you can be generally positive, when you deliver the feedback. I mentioned before about waiting, not knowing what to do and how to do it and being afraid of having the confrontation, so we wait until there’s a big problem. We’ve also made the Feedback Model fast. You can give feedback in five seconds.

In fact, directs tell us, whether it’s positive or negative feedback, they want feedback to be quick. The longer it takes, the more it’s seen as portentous of something, that it’s big, that it’s heavy, particularly if it’s negative. Or, if it’s positive and it takes a long time, it’s like, “Wow, am I going to get a raise?” We don’t want that. We don’t want to wait until it’s something big. We want to adjust, when it’s small. Think about this analogy for just a minute. You’re driving down the road and you put your hand on the top of the steering wheel.

I just realized I told you no more theory, but I’ve got one more concept that I want to share with you. You’re driving down the road. You put your hand on the top of your steering wheel. You’re going 50 or 60 miles an hour. You’re going 100 kilometers an hour. You put your hand on the top of the steering wheel and you don’t move your hand. It’s as if your hand is really just a steel claw that came down from the roof of your car and it’s holding the steering wheel in place.

You start going 60 miles an hour or 100 kilometers an hour. The question becomes where you will be in 90 seconds. What will happen to that car? The answer, if you think about it, is the ditch. You’re going to be in the ditch on the side of the road. You may even flip over a few times. Why? Why is that so? It’s not hard. It’s because, when you’re driving down the road, think about it now and do it right now, right in front of your video monitor. What’s happening to your hand, when you’re driving a car at 50, 60, 40, even 30 miles an hour? What’s happening to your hand, when you’re driving down the street around in your car? You’re constantly going like this, aren’t you? Human systems are imperfect. You are off a little bit. You’re over correcting and then you’re over correcting back. Your tires are inflated differently. Your car’s alignment is a little bit wrong.

The road is crowned. There’s a slight bend in the road you didn’t realize. The sun was in your eyes. The wind is pushing on the car. There’s a little bit of oil on the road, so your car slips a little bit. There’s a rock in the road and that pushes you off a little bit. You’re constantly making adjustments. That’s the way highly effective managers deliver feedback. They are constantly making small adjustments. They don’t wait until the car is almost in the ditch and then say, “Oh my gosh, we’ve got to have a big conversation about that.”

They don’t jerk the car back to the center of the road. Why? Because it’s uncomfortable for everybody in the same way that waiting until there is a pattern or some sort of systemic, “Well, clearly now I can get feedback, because there’s no way he has excuses for eight times being late or eight times missing his deadline for eight times being off on his quality numbers.”, or whatever it might be. Smart managers know they make small adjustments along the way. That’s another reason why the Feedback Model is so quick.

I’ve given you some examples. I’ll give you some more. “Hey, can I give you some feedback? When you’re late, it slows us down. Can you be on time?” “Hey, can I give you some feedback? When you miss the meeting, I worry about you. Can you be on time next week?” “Hey, can I give you some feedback? When you come in early and help me get set up, it gets me ready for the meeting earlier. Thanks so much.” “Hey, can I give you some feedback? When you get your report to me earlier, I’m able to check it, make sure that it’s right and put it in with mine. That really helps me. Thanks.”

It’s not hard. How long did those take? Three, five, six, seven seconds at most. That’s all. That’s doing this along the way, rather than waiting and waiting and waiting. “What do I do? What do I say? I’m afraid they’ll be upset.” Then they’re almost in the ditch and then you say, “OK, come into my office. We have to have a conversation.” Or even worse, wait until the end of the year and have no credibility at all, by telling them they made a mistake in March or April or May or June and now it’s December and they’re getting their review.

Now they believe, “You’re going to base my salary increase on something that happened in June that I repeated maybe one more time in the year, because you didn’t talk to me about it in June?” No credibility at all for the average manager, when it comes to performance reviews today.

Feedback needs to be...

Yes! Faster is better.
Not if it makes it slow.
No! Not angry. Positive :-)

Why do we need to give feedback frequently?

Because our directs need lots of correction.
No - at least we hope not!
Because less frequent feedback gives us less credibility.
That's it!
Because our directs need to be kept in line.
That's not a positive attitude!

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