What are the most important conversations in your business?
Poor feedback conversations can kill motivation in your team, and as a result eradicate trust, company loyalty, and individual performance. In the worst case, this ripples onto other team members in the organisation, crippling your culture, brand and overall performance.
Just think about it from a customer’s point of view, if you have a bad experience with an organisation, how likely would you return to use their services?
One bad experience can completely undo the trust that has been built up, creating a toxic atmosphere.
The same applies to team members and internal conversations.
One bad experience can set in motion a chain of events that can hurt company culture and brand badly.
But the reality is that many managers are not trained in how to have feedback conversations that uplift, empower and inspire their team members.
Instead, they risk leaving their team members feeling disappointed, frustrated and abandoned.
Yet, these types of conversations can be completely avoided.
How? By taking into consideration a few key steps to have successful and empowering conversations instead:
– STOP, PAUSE, PLAY
– STRUCTURE YOUR CONVERSATION
STOP, PAUSE, PLAY
First things first, ensure that you are in the right space for the conversation. Ask yourself:
– Why am I having this conversation?
– What is my intended outcome?
– What energy and emotional state do I need to bring to our conversation to reach the intended outcome?
Whether you are giving some small improvement recommendations or whether you need to address a glaring behavioural issue, the energy you bring to the conversation matters massively.
Anger, hostility and fear are going to give your team member a very different experience and motivation than calmness, presence, and support.
Remember that you are having a conversation with a fellow human being.
SETTING UP THE CONVERSATION
Once you are clear on your intended outcome of the conversation and you are in the right space and mindset to conduct the conversation, check in with the person whether now is a good time:
“I would like to have a positive conversation with you and give you some feedback so you can be more successful in your role, is now a good time to have this conversation?”
Even though it is important to provide feedback as soon as possible, the timing might not be ideal and if it isn’t, the feedback won’t be well received.
If that is the case, allow them space and invite them to suggest when would work better in the next 24 hours.
STRUCTURING YOUR FEEDBACK – OTFD
Now that you are ready to have the conversation, it is important to structure the discussion in a productive manner using the OTFD strategy, an approach that removes blame and minimises defensiveness.
Share your observations, what did you see and hear the other person doing. Think of it as looking at the situation from ‘a fly on the wall’ point of view. This also means there are no judgments (ie. Not saying this is good or bad) when sharing observations, just:
“I saw you do ……, I heard you say …, I saw the other person’s reaction”, etc.
The importance is that you OWN your observations. Other people’s observations can quickly turn into Chinese whispers, which is the worst thing that can happen to quickly destroy any trust and confidentiality between people.
What do you think about your observations. Just as mentioned above… what do YOU THINK (not what other people think) about the observations.
“Given what I saw you do, I think …..”
Next, share what your emotional response is to the observations and thoughts.
“Given what I observed and thought, I feel ……”
Lastly, share what you desire. What is your intended outcome, what is the desired behaviour you would like to see your team member embrace? Ideally, this is phrased in a observation of the future, in terms of what you wish to see and hear.
“my desire is to ….”
Let’s have a look at some examples, one for giving improvement feedback and one for reinforcing positive behaviour.
EXAMPLE – GIVING IMPROVEMENT FEEDBACK
– I heard you speaking with your client today and noticed that at least 3 times you spoke over him.
– I thought that might have been perceived by him as rude behaviour.
– I feel concerned that he thinks he is not respected as a client.
– My desire is for you to be mindful of your communication with people and allow them to finish what they have to say, before giving your input.
EXAMPLE – REINFORCING POSITIVE BEHAVIOR
– I saw you step up and lead the presentation earlier today and I heard your client giving you positive feedback.
– I thought that was awesome, especially since you were not comfortable to step up like that a few months ago.
– I feel really proud of you and I am excited about your future.
– My desire is for you to keep up stepping up like this and keep on growing.
Structuring your feedback in this way helps you to come from a place of support and empowerment and will help you to have uplifting and positive conversations with your team members.
Remember also to check how the other person receives your feedback and make sure there is an agreement in terms of the intended outcomes and next steps.
Performance of any organisation is a direct reflection of that organisation’s culture (how do we behave and communicate with each other and our stakeholders).
Feedback is crucial to enable the company and everyone in the company to keep on growing in order to achieve the company’s purpose and make a positive impact on the world.
Empowering, uplifting feedback conversations are essential to make this happen.
Remember, your energy in communication is everything – it will rub off on the other person.
Indicators of poor conversations:
– Participants walk away disempowered, negative and unhappy about not only the conversation, but also their future and the other people involved
– There are no next steps agreed upon or no mutual agreement on the next steps
Indicators of positive, uplifting and empowering conversations:
– All participants feel empowered and positive about the other people involved, the conversation they just had and the future
– Specific, measurable, mutually agreed upon next steps
Effective, compassionate leaders are able to get the best out of their team members because of how they communicate and behave.