Imagine the nicest, most accommodating and well-lit jeweler’s bench you can. And imagine that you’ve got every jewelry technique ever devised comfortably locked in the data bank between your ears. You’ve got plenty of time and a burning desire to make something beautiful. You’re ready to go right? Well, not quite – what about the tools?
At Rio we’ve created an empowered workplace operating within a common set of principles. So we’ve got a challenging yet supportive environment sharing a common set of values, but what about the tools that make our culture work?
Team management and joint accountability require substantially more information and conversation than most other work styles. One of the first things that new associates (sometimes uncomfortably) discover is that there’s a lot of feedback given. Much of it is kudos for a job well done, but there’s also a bunch of folks holding each other accountable day-in and day-out; making sure we all deliver on our commitments.
Feedback can only be considered effective when it achieves its desired end result – improving performance. It’s not about telling someone they got it wrong, it’s about connecting with them and helping them understand what went wrong, why it went wrong and what they can do to get it right. It can be tough to even enter into that conversation, so we like to use some tools that make it easier and more effective:
These 11 techniques come from trainer and author Abe Wagner and his program “Breaking the Communication Barrier.” They help to set the stage, “frame” the conversation and lead to more successful outcomes. These simple practices can be used individually or in combination. They help people to listen.
- Use The Golden Rule. We’ve all heard this one—Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You like people to treat you nicely—treat them nicely.
- Use The Platinum Rule. A corollary of The Golden Rule—Do unto others as they would have it done unto them. Maybe I like to engage in small talk before getting to the point. You prefer a quick, direct convo. I need to keep that in mind when I’ve got feedback for you.
- Presume that people have virtuous motives. Understand that people mean well, but may not have the best methods for achieving the desired outcome: “I know you wanted to just get that order out the door, but when you don’t talk with the rest of the team we risk leaving things out.”
- Give a “face saving” device. “I know you’ve been buried in work since Rio In Motion, but when you didn’t get that report to me on time…”
- Ask for advice from the very person you need to dialog with on how best to approach them: “Hey, I need to talk with you, but I’m not sure how best to approach it…”
- Ask for what you want—not what you don’t want. Instead of trying to get folks to stop ineffective behavior, get them to focus on new effective behavior. Instead of telling someone to stop being negative, ask them to be more positive.
- Pair an authentic negative with an authentic positive. Just because somebody’s made a mistake, doesn’t mean they don’t have strengths: “When you show up late we can’t get the work done. Your skill is critical to our success!”
- Do appropriate self-disclosure. “You know I’ve made that same mistake myself…” Helps folks understand that we’re all in this together and run into the same kinds of challenges.
- Use a light touch. Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill. Keep it friendly, say it with a smile. You have to be genuine —if you try a light touch when you’re angry you can come across as sarcastic.
- Say what you are apprehensive about. “I’m afraid that if I tell you what’s bothering me, you’re going to be angry.” Most folks will respond with something like “No, go ahead.” They may still get angry and that opens the door for another conversation.
- Say it straight. This one has four steps. In the first step, it’s important to own your feeling – “I’m frustrated,” not “You frustrated me.”
a) Express your feeling: “I’m frustrated…”
b) Explain the actions that caused those feelings: “…because you didn’t…”
c) Explain the consequences: “Therefore I couldn’t…”
d) Then say what you want: “In the future, please…”
I hope these framing techniques will help the next time you find yourself needing to give feedback. Let me know if you have questions. What methods have you tried? Share your stories!