Tag Archives: driving performance

Fierce feedback

“As a leader, you only get one chance–when someone gives you feedback–to get it right.  If you push back or get defensive, chances are good  you will never get feedback from that person again.” – Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations and Fierce Leadership

fierceAs Todd mentioned last week, I’ve been conducting performance reviews with my staff the last couple of weeks of June. Typically, I ask my staff several questions to get the conversation going, like “What are you most proud of?” What gave you the most satisfaction during the year? What got in the way of doing your best work?” I also ask my staff for feedback about how I can support them and help them by removing obstacles that are keeping them from doing their best work.

This month we’ve been focusing on driving performance…for our teams and ourselves. Over my career, I’ve found that asking for feedback from your team members is critical in making sure that you are supporting their success and driving performance, not just during review time, but throughout the year.

Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations, encourages leaders to ask for feedback from their teams, saying that feedback is...”a conversation in which we have the opportunity to see what we may not see.”  Wow, think about it. Feedback can give you a window into an issue that you hadn’t understood before. It could shine a spotlight on an obstacle that is keeping you or your team from moving forward.  Problem is, it can also be scary to ask for feedback and to receive it, and “to see what we may not see.” 

Scott has put together a 6-step process that can help make the feedback process less intimidating for leaders.

  1. Ask for feedback (examples could include: “What feedback do you have for me that will help me become  more effective in how I lead our team meetings?” “What feedback do you have for me that will help me improve how I work with you, your team, this project, etc.?”
  2. Be prepared to listen and learn (listen to what is being said and how)
  3. Remain curious (ask for specifics, clarification and examples)
  4. Demonstrate a willingness to consider (decide what you can learn from the feedback; consider: “have I heard this before?”)
  5. Say thank you
  6. Follow up (commit to action for the areas you wish to change and ask for support)

In your experience, what has been the benefit of asking for feedback from your staff? What are the potential pitfalls?

Anita Rios

For more inspiration, see Susan Scott’s TEDx talk

The power of affirmation

sugataLast month, I was reminded of the incredible power of affirmation to turbo-charge performance by Sugata Mitra, who was speaking at the ATD International Conference. You may have heard of Mitra as the “Hole in the Wall” professor from India. While Mitra’s research focuses on children and how they learn, I think his findings have relevance for how adults learn and perform in the workplace.

If you haven’t heard of Dr. Mitra, I’d encourage you to listen to his TED talk. Through his research, he has discovered that groups of unsupervised children can learn just about anything if they have access to the internet. After winning the million dollar TED Prize in 2013, Mitra was able to fund and create five self organized learning environments (SOLE)  in England and India to further test his theories about education and literacy.

He wanted to see if affirmation would further children’s learning in the SOLEs, so Mitra recruited retired teachers and other interested adults to volunteer their time one hour a week to beam into the classrooms via Skype. He dubbed these volunteers the “Granny Cloud.” Their sole job was to demonstrate interest in what the children are learning and doing, ask good questions, and provide positive affirmation. What Mitra learned was that:

  • Children react well to encouragement
  • Children exceed targets if encouraged
  • Children like to show off to a friendly adult

In my experience, I’ve found that adults behave similarly in the workplace. We react well to encouragement and often exceed performance targets when encouraged.  While I know I am an internally motivated person, I have often worked harder for a boss who is appreciative and encouraging.  And I can honestly say that the teams I’ve led do better when I am actively engaged, interested in their work, and providing positive affirmation.

Does this ring true for you? What has been your experience with positive affirmation and performance?

Anita Rios