For five years (2003-2008) Jill McGillen wrote a weekly work advice column for several Northern California newspapers. Many of those questions and answers on leadership and management are included below. Feel free to browse the Q&A archives below.
If you want to read more of Jill’s work advice, she is now writing columns for Examiner.com.
First-time team leader dealing with interpersonal conflict on the team
Poor performance review, despite successful project results
Staff member becomes defensive with corrections
Meetings turning into complaint sessions
New cost-cutting boss
Being honest without negativity
Perceived as playing favorites
Confusion about responding to 360 feedback
Motivation and attitude problems
Struggling with new promotion and new baby
Helping boss reduce turnover
Recent promotion to project team leader
Taking over a co-worker’s project
Co-workers resent reorganization plans
Staff resisting necessary change
Corporate culture plays the blame game
10 secrets to success
Difference between feedback and praise
I was recently given the responsibility of overseeing a selected team for a six-month project. This is my first time as team leader. Although we are only at the beginning stage, there is already a lot of interpersonal conflict. What would be some ways to get this group working as a team? – M
People perform best and are happiest when they are valued and doing what they like to do. Try to find the right roles and responsibilities for each team member. First, you will want to meet with each individual to determine the best fit, given his or her experience, strengths and preferences. Emphasize that you expect a collaborative approach to the project. Collaboration is created by each team member’s ability to share knowledge and skills. Establish a common goal; work together to set clear expectations and deadlines. Clarify who is ultimately accountable for each step of the project. Regular meetings are essential for everyone to report progress, successes, and problems. Let everyone know that for each problem presented you would like to hear some solution(s). Let your team know that you expect them to be open-minded and willing, as these are essential elements to any project’s success and will enable good communication among team members.
I manage a group of 12 employees. I just completed my first year as their supervisor. My boss gave me my management performance review last week. In order to compile the review, he solicits anonymous feedback from my team to assess my performance. Therefore this review focused only on my management performance. I was shocked at how poorly I did. The primary criticism was related to my inability to “empower” those who report to me. Because I did an outstanding job delivering great results and successful projects, I am upset at this information. I feel betrayed by my team. Do you have suggestions for constructive next steps? – N
It might be wise to go back to your boss and ask him about constructive next steps. Revealing in your information was your statement “I did an outstanding job.” In the future, you might want to revise your thinking to more of a “we” orientation. Part of being a good manager is making others the focus. Most people promoted to managers were once high-performing individual contributors. And that is why they get promoted. Transferring the focus to others can be challenging — but necessary. There are some common behaviors that good managers practice.
- Solicit advice from your team on problems.
- Work with employees to use team decisions.
- Understand how each employee likes to receive information. Some individuals like written memos and others prefer personal meetings or the telephone.
- When tempted to be too directive, consider whether this is the best way to proceed. If not, then handle the issue with a more collaborative approach.
- Use “we” when talking about the work group or discussing successful results.
- In meetings, encourage rotating facilitators among your staff. You do not always need to lead meetings.
- Ask employees to discuss their responsibilities with the entire group so that everyone knows where overlap occurs and common problems can be solved.
- Discuss job issues and involve employees in designing goals and objectives for the upcoming year.
- Look for opportunities for employees to receive praise.
- Make sure that everyone who contributes is mentioned on reports and memos. Public recognition is important.
A big part of a manager’s role is to help facilitate employee success. Ask yourself “What motivates my employee?” It has been proven that when employees are motivated and happy, productivity and performance go up.
Take the high road concerning this review. Look for the positive that can come out of knowing this information. Most managers don’t know that they are performing at less than capacity. You now have been given an opportunity to grow in your career. Strong management skills are a solid building block to future advancement in an organization.
Finally, one major reason that employees love or hate their job is related to how they feel about their boss. Beyond building a stronger team, you might help 12 people become happier at work.
One of my new staff members is making a lot of mistakes. And he gets defensive every time I let him know what he did wrong. I need to let him know when he makes mistakes so that he doesn’t keep doing the same thing. I am not good at giving feedback. He told me that I make him very nervous. His trial period of 3 months is almost up and I am on the fence about whether to keep him. I know he is trying hard. He has great credentials and experience. And his former employers gave him terrific references. I thought maybe I could try a new approach to improve the situation before I make up my mind. Any thoughts? – M
It may be that you are unintentionally contributing to his difficulty adapting to the job. Try some new approaches for better results: Begin any feedback with “I think” not “You didn’t…” This produces better results.
“You” statements are heard as blame and criticism. “You” statements may also communicate a lack of respect and cause defensive behavior.
Some guidelines for giving constructive feedback:
- Give immediately after the occurrence;
- Give it in a private setting;
- Be very specific. Stay away from generalizations:
“What you did was incomplete”. A better way: “The report needs to include xyz because of the following reasons….”
- As much as possible try to provide examples or detailed explanations of what the final product should look like;
- Once you have addressed a mistake, move on. Do not bring it up again unless it reoccurs;
Stick to evaluating the problem, not the person;
- Provide concrete recommendations of how to fix the problem.
Give your employee positive reinforcement on what he is doing well. This is important and will help reduce his nervousness. Generally, work performance is consistent. If he was successful elsewhere, the chances are good he can be successful in this new position.
I am a manager and facilitate weekly meetings. We have a troublemaker in the group. She always raises problems in the meetings unrelated to the agenda items. The meeting then turns into an hour-long complaint session and nothing gets accomplished…. except venting. She influences the group in a way that is harmful and counterproductive. I am interested in your opinion on how to handle this situation. – L
My first suggestion is to find out whether this woman is a “troublemaker” or the group spokesperson. Find out what your group thinks about the meetings and how they might be improved. As a group decide on the next agenda. Advise your group that you will be separating unrelated items brought up in the meeting as “parking lot” issues. The parking lot will be a list of issues that may need to be addressed, but at another time. Let each team member know that for the future the focus will be on solutions.
During the meeting:
- Stick to the agenda. When someone brings up an unrelated topic make sure it gets recorded as a “parking lot” issue.
- For every problem that is raised related to an agenda item, ask members of your team to try to find solutions prior to the next meeting.
- Recap at the end of each meeting. What was good about the meeting and what could be improved? And as a group decide on the next agenda.
- Plan a meeting time for the “Parking Lot” issues.
- You don’t always need to lead the meetings. Assign rotating facilitators. This will help your team build leadership and presentation skills.
After the meeting:
- Send an e-mail; recap the meeting and identify next steps.
- Praise those on your team that came up with solutions during the meeting and those who volunteered to do so outside of the meetings.
- Reiterate agenda topics for future meetings.
- Confirm the date and time for the next meeting and the “parking lot” meeting.
There are many ways to discourage and encourage certain behaviors. Focus on solutions, praise those that come up with solutions, and increase team involvement. These actions will lead to more productive meetings.
I have a new boss that is creating a lot of problems. Nobody likes our new boss but the owner of the company. He thinks she is great. Since she was hired she has been on a cost-cutting mission. Everyone is afraid that they will lose their jobs. The morale in the department is very low. In the 3 months since she started we have hardly spoken.
I think I intimidate her because I have been with my employer for 10 years. Also, I have been very outspoken about her lack of experience and her budget slashing. I am very upset about this situation. What do you suggest? – C
Keep an open mind and try to work with your boss rather then against her. You think she is “intimidated” by you. If this is true, she will never ask your advice.
Try the following:
- Spend time thinking about what you would do if asked to save money for the department.
- Ask your boss for time to meet. Let her know that you want to discuss how you can help with ideas for increased efficiency.
- Start the meeting by acknowledging the problem. “I know we may have gotten off on the wrong foot, but…”. Explain to her that change is difficult but you want to offer your expertise to help her and the group become more efficient.
- Let her know in what areas you would like to assist. Let her know about prior relevant successes. Establish your credibility by letting her know about your past achievements. If she is inexperienced as you suggest, she needs your support.
- Ask your co-workers to keep an open mind while your boss is learning. Promoting teamwork will encourage your boss to pay attention to your ideas.
Finally, you may be experiencing initiatives set by upper management. Frequently a person hired into middle management is asked to implement cost-saving initiatives. This may be the case.
Two principles to exercise in the workplace are open-mindedness and willingness. Make these a part of your daily regime and work will be a lot easier.
My new boss micromanages and treats us like we are in kindergarten. After she gives an assignment, she hovers, constantly checking on the status of the assignment. Her actions are not only annoying they are insulting. Everyone on our team is an experienced professional. There is no reason for her obsessive behavior. I am getting close to discussing it with her but don’t quite know how to address the problem. Recommendations? – L
You mention that your boss is new. It might be that as she experiences your group’s professionalism she will relax a bit and not micromanage quite as much. However, not all bosses are friendly and trusting of those that report to them. It is employees’ responsibility to adjust their style of interaction to achieve a good working relationship and build trust. Try the following approach:
- Observe your boss and try to figure out what motivates her and how to work with that;
- Make appropriate changes in your behavior that will further a better relationship with her;
- Take a proactive approach and check in with her frequently to discuss your progress on assignments;
- Be forthcoming through verbal and/or written communication regarding status on projects and deadlines;
- Try to find out her goals and future initiatives for the department;
- Determine how you can help her achieve her goals and offer your assistance.
While micromanaging reflects poor management skills, this behavior is not malicious. Rather it might reflect her own insecurity about being a new boss. If it continues beyond reason then you should discuss the issue with her. Let her know that you want her to feel confident in your work and that her actions send a different message. And if that does not work, you may want to check in with human resource personnel to discuss strategies.
Your statement about “our team” was revealing in that it indicates that you see her as an outsider. Try to go beyond “we” thinking into “us” thinking to include your boss. Show your willingness to facilitate her success. Accordingly her success will be your success.
The Supervisor in my department often asks my opinion about situations and work projects. I am a very direct person, and my boss tells me he respects my opinion. The problem is that sometimes I go too far. I find it hard to edit my opinions and still be honest. I want him to continue to use me for a sounding board — for several reasons. He has told me that I give him valuable advice and that a promotion is very likely. He also has told me that I need to watch out for my negativity. Do you have any thoughts on how to give my opinion without saying too much? – R
In a very old TV show, “Dragnet,” Detective Joe Friday would come to the door of the person who had reported a problem or crisis. The man or woman would begin an emotional outpouring about whatever caused him to call. Detective Friday would say “Just the facts.” Then he was able go about doing his job of solving the case or problem. Great instruction. When your boss asks for your opinion try this approach:
- Clarify the facts of the situation. Make sure you understand everything before you give feedback.
- Identify what works and what does not. And why. In other words, always balance positive and negative feedback. Too much talk of one or the other will label you as a pessimist or a Pollyanna. And then your viewpoint will become less credible.
- Regarding the negative feedback: Provide options or solutions to the problem situation.
- Keep track and record your suggestions — in particular those that are implemented.
- Monitor the cost-savings and positive results of your recommendations.
You said you are interested in a promotion. At the time of your performance evaluation, you will have a record of implemented recommendations. It will contain concrete examples of your contributions and improve the likelihood of promotion — using just the facts.
I remember a column you wrote about the importance of “managing up.” I am a good manager with my team and am well regarded among my peers. However I have trouble playing politics with my boss and others with authority. Do you have any further recommendations on this topic? – L
I will recommend three books on this subject. Any or all may help you with techniques to effectively manage up:
- Managing Up, by Roseanne Badowski. Author was the assistant to Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric. The book offers a common-sense perspective on how to keep your boss happy, productive and successful while also showing the importance of support staff to the health of an organization.
- Managing Up: 59 Ways to Build a Career Advancing Relationship With Your Boss, By Michael and Deborah Dobson. Authors give practical tips, including worksheets, for staffers who want to get ahead by getting along.
- Managing Upward: Strategies for Succeeding with Your Boss, by Patti Hathaway. Author starts with setting goals and gives instruction on how to read the boss’s work style. Readers are given advice on how to mesh their own work style with the boss’s work style for the most effective results.
I am a director of ten. Our organization sends out employee satisfaction surveys every three years. I try to treat everyone fairly, but I am very much a people person. My satisfaction scores were significantly lower in the responses to “my manager treats everyone fairly, and ” I feel I can talk to my manager freely”. I think when you are a people person, you can be viewed as a manager that shows favoritism and does not treat all employees equally. I have an open door policy, and I believe in treating people fairly, but somehow my intent is being perceived as favoritism. Can you help? – B
Ask and answer these questions-
- Do you have favorites in your group?
- Do you solicit the opinions of all in your department?
- Do you give choice assignments to the same people?
- Who doesn’t come to talk to you and why not?
Try this approach:
- Be honest with your staff and let them know that you received feedback that concerned you.
- Use this as an opportunity to remind your group you have an open door policy.
- Think about what proactive steps you can take to improve the situation.
Can you get additional training, coaching or mentoring in these areas from others in or outside your company?
Your goal is to be a respectful, just and strong leader. The best bosses are those that put the welfare of their staff first. This shows up in a variety of ways: fair treatment, career development, respect, good instructions, good communication and appropriate time to discuss issues and solicit opinions. There is no silver bullet when it comes to being a good manager but there are plenty of silver linings if you look for them.
I just went through a 360 feedback process with my team. A question that was asked was, “How could your boss communicate more effectively with you?” The responses were all over the place from identifying corporate strategy to improving co-worker relations to developing skills. I am more confused now about where to expend my energy because they all want something different! Any suggestions? – N
The 360 feedback can be a good first step in building a communication plan. The next step is to meet with each of your team members and explore what they really need. From these conversations you will be able to develop your priorities. I’ll bet they have more in common than not. In fact your group’s responses are consistent with information gathered in a national survey. In a Right Management survey conducted of HR managers to determine competencies needed in leaders, most important competencies identified were communication skills, vision, and honesty. Specific areas cited as needing improvement were engaging employees in the vision and strategy of the company, and development of employees. If you need additional assistance, look to your senior executives for mentoring. Watch for those who are already demonstrating these skills. You may also want to explore coaching. Check out www.coachinc.com for a licensed executive coach referral to help assist in developing further skills. Another Right Management survey reports a six-fold return on investment for those senior executives who got involved in coaching programs.
I am having trouble with an employee’s motivation and attitude. She sets a bad example for my team. I have tried several different ways to develop her motivation and encourage a better attitude–with no success. I am at the point of discussing a transfer with her. I am open to try anything at this point. Do you have any suggestions? – L
Please reconsider a transfer as the solution. This isn’t solving a problem; it is relocating it.
Regarding your employee’s attitude: you really cannot change attitude. Attitude is something that is personal to an individual. What you can address is behavior. Behavior affects others and task performance and is therefore under your sphere of control. Does her behavior impact others and her work performance? Those are the things that need to be addressed. Are her tasks and your expectations of how to perform such tasks clear? How does she not meet the expectation and how can you create a development plan to facilitate that result? Has the training been sufficient for her to succeed?
As to motivation, assess the following list of performance motivators and answer the questions to ensure that performance motivators are in place:
- Are the goals clear and challenging?
- Are the standards realistic and documented?
- Are you delivering appropriate and timely feedback?
- Is additional training needed?
- Does she understand what would happen if she were to improve/not improve?
- Is this amount competitive and adequate for the job?
Motivation and Environment:
- Does motivation (in general) thrive in your work environment?
What motivates this employee? Not all employees are motivated by the same factors.
Like attitude, you cannot create motivation. You can only identify what conditions make motivation surface. Are these conditions within your control?
Finally, I always recommend bringing Human Resource personnel (HR) into the loop on any employee relations problem. After analyzing as above, try these measures:
- Create a development plan;
- Set expectations and timelines;
- Identify motivation needs;
- Document your results.
If you still have an employee who is not performing, collaborate with HR to determine next steps.
I recently got promoted. Now I supervise a small staff. I also came back from maternity leave in January. Juggling new responsibilities at work and at home with my baby has really taken a toll. I feel exhausted all the time. The way I used to work just isn’t possible anymore. My old way was to say yes to everything. In fact I got promoted because of my “can-do” attitude. I find now that it is difficult to be all things to all people–with my competing priorities. I would appreciate any recommendations to help balance work and life. – S
It sounds as though some time management tips at work and home may help.
Here are a few:
- Delegate: Assign tasks to others rather than doing everything yourself. As long as you provide good instruction you will find there are probably additional tasks that you can delegate to your staff or others at home.
- Practice Assertiveness: Say no in ways that feel comfortable such as “My own deadlines prevent me from helping you at this time” or “I would like to help but need to focus on certain priorities right now.”
- Get enough sleep: This may be difficult with a new baby but whenever possible try to get as much sleep as possible. People often underestimate the value of being well rested to help their attitude and their productivity.
- Let technology serve you (not the reverse): There is an addictive quality to technology. By constantly checking voice mail, e-mail etc. you are increasing your stress level unnecessarily. Schedule times for this in your day and week and stick to it.
- Cluster: Group similar tasks together to achieve maximum efficiency. Return phone calls at one time, Respond to e-mails at a scheduled time, etc.
- Identify best practices: Get to know other working mom-managers. Exchange tips and use talk therapy to help alleviate stress. “Best practices” is used in the workplace to determine the optimum way to implement a new process or system. Use best practices of working moms who have already gone through what you are going through now.
Remember what they tell us on an airplane: When the oxygen mask drops down, put it on yourself first… then the child. Why? Because you have to save yourself in order to save somebody else. I think this principle can be applied to many situations in life.
A big piece of effective time management is creating and enforcing healthy boundaries with others. Good luck!
Our department has a big turnover and I would like to stop the revolving door. I’ve been covering jobs until replacements are found and then training new hires. Some of my co-workers left because there is no career development from our supervisor. I’m not interested in a promotion, so career advancement is not a factor for me. I want to offer the boss some recommendations but need to be diplomatic. Do you have any suggestions on how to approach this somewhat delicate topic? – J
An old axiom is “people leaves bosses, not companies”. Your boss’s lack of attention to career development is hindering retention in your department. Discuss the issue with your supervisor in relation to lost productivity and employee expectations rather than a management failing. Your company is not unique. A job satisfaction and retention survey completed in 2004 reported that as many as 53% of employees were either leaving or thinking about leaving their jobs. This is compared to 31% in 2001. Some of the most common reasons cited were:
- A bad relationship with their supervisor
- Insufficient compensation
- Boring work
- Lack of opportunities for advancement
Many employees leave because of unmet expectations. Being proactive is critical. In the interview and after hire it is essential that your manager have a candid discussion about opportunities, development paths, training opportunities and advancement timelines. This initial discussion should both identify and set expectations. The supervisor should have regular follow-up meetings to work with an employee on developing a career plan. Also, pass along information from this terrific website: http://hbswk.hbs.edu (Harvard Business School publications). When you get to the website, type “retention” in the search box. Good luck!
I was recently promoted to project team leader. I am having trouble with a few people who have problems understanding directions. As a result, I lose my temper. Having to take so much time explaining instructions frustrates me. I also find it difficult to consider so many different skill levels. Do you have any tips? – L
Changing from the role of an individual contributor to that of a team leader is a tough adjustment. Your promotion probably indicates that you have high standards and expectations. As an individual you may meet them. But are your expectations of team members realistic? Try to shift your attitudes:
- Look for the strengths in each team member.
- Everyone on your team has some unique strength. Find out what it is. Make sure each person becomes known as a subject expert.
- Don’t expect your team to be perfect.
- Work around imperfections. Accept that people have some skills that are solid and others that need developing.
- Make sure everyone understands your instructions.
- Ask clarifying questions such as, “Could you repeat back to me what you need to do?”
- Ask your staff whether they prefer verbal or written instructions. People learn in different ways; accommodate that.
- Judge the act, not the actor.
Don’t let someone’s mistake allow him or her to feel useless. Taking the “high road” is essential to being a good manager.
Finally, get all the facts. Before you lose your temper, gather all the relevant facts. Pause to listen long enough to grasp what went wrong. If necessary, come back to it later when you are calm.
I’ve been asked to fill in for a co-worker who is on medical leave for 3 months and is not available to answer questions. She oversees a very large project. I am not a project manager and there has been no training. I will be getting help with my new assignment but I feel overwhelmed. Do you have any suggestions? – P
First, don’t be overwhelmed. Henry Ford said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small tasks.”
- Ask your boss to publicly give you the authority for managing the project. This will give you the credibility that you will need.
- Read all correspondence and files related to this project.
- Become familiar with the background, timelines and deliverables of the project.
- Meet with everyone assigned to the project, first individually, then as a group. Get to know them and become familiar with their work.
Your co-worker is probably used some type of project management software to keep track of dates, who’s responsible for what, etc. If she didn’t, get one. One on the market is Microsoft’s Project. If you like it, also order the comprehensive and accessible book: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Project Management with Microsoft Project 2003 by Ron Black. Another good package is Intuit’s http://quickbase.intuit.com/. Effective project management requires regular status meetings, communication, accountability and problem solving. And just as you have done here, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Good luck.
I volunteered to get involved in a reorganization effort planned in my department. I have many ideas for improvements. I am looking forward to being involved to bring about some positive changes. Most of my co-workers have a negative reaction to this initiative. I have been assured that the reason for the reorganization is increased efficiency, not job cuts. I have also been asked to recruit co-workers to get involved. Given their negative reactions, any thoughts on how this can be done? – T
Knowing what to expect about people’s reaction to change in an organization may help. Most people do not like change. Change management experts’ report that the standard scenario looks like this:
Only 20% of people are friendly to change. Like you, they see change as a potential for positive improvement. Another 50% will assume a neutral attitude, wanting to see the results prior to committing one way or another. The remaining 30% are vocal resisters and will work hard to maintain the status quo.
Don’t spend too much time on the resisters trying to win them over. They will probably not be pleased with any change. Focus instead on the 20% who can advance the effort. Allow them to assist in trying to get the majority off the fence.
A key element in successful change is the involvement and input of those who will be impacted by the change. People are less resistant when they help make change happen than when it happens to them. Whenever introducing any major change, it is best to test-pilot your improvements with a small group to work out the “bugs” prior to implementation. Finally, over-communicate about what is happening, the timelines and goals. You will find a strong correlation between the quantity and quality of communication and the ease of implementation.
I have a group of people reporting to me who are totally resisting necessary changes in the department. I have developed a comprehensive communication program to introduce the changes and a well planned implementation plan. However, do you have any preliminary steps that you would recommend? – N
Sounds like you are on the right track.
Several years ago when my boss needed to implement change he began by giving everyone a copy of the best-seller at the time, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson. He then facilitated a meeting about the lessons in this funny little book about how four mice handled change. The meeting turned into a rich discussion identifying fears and concerns. It was the beginning of moving toward openness and acceptance of the changes. This might not be fit for you but the idea is to let people talk about how they feel and make sure they know that they are supported by you. S.J. Ashford, an organizational change researcher, recommends increasing perceived control by communicating as much as possible and encouraging social support groups during the process of change.
I began working for a small company several months ago. It seems that blame is the name of the game around here. Whenever something goes wrong, a scapegoat is found and everyone criticizes that person or team. This goes on until the next mistake, and then the blame shifts. It is hard to focus on goals when I’m busy trying to keep blame off my staff and me. The culture of this company is unhealthy and I would like to leave but need to stay in this job for the next year. Do you have any recommendations? – C
Think of team or company culture as music. If the notes are discordant, then the music is sour; if harmonious, a wonderful melody. Blaming others creates discord while solving problems together creates harmony.
Use Gandhi’s philosophy: “Be the change you wish to see.” Whenever things go wrong, help the “blamers” by demonstrating a different approach. Say:
- “Let’s forget who did it and work together to fix the problem.”
- “Is there anything we can learn from it?”
- “How can we be proactive to prevent it from reoccurring?”
This approach will take the focus off whom and re-direct it to why and how. Continue this approach and encourage your team and peer managers to follow.
During the past several months I have received many requests for a previously published column called The 10 Secrets to Success. The list, from Investor’s Business Daily, was compiled after many years of analyzing leaders and successful people in all walks of life.
10 Secrets to Success
- HOW YOU THINK IS EVERYTHING:
Always be positive. Think success, not failure. Beware of a negative environment.
- DECIDE UPON YOUR TRUE DREAMS AND GOALS:
Write down your specific goals and develop a plan to reach them.
- TAKE ACTION:
Goals are nothing without action. Don’t be afraid to get started. Just do it.
- NEVER STOP LEARNING:
Go back to school and read books. Get training and acquire skills.
- BE PERSISTENT AND WORK HARD:
Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Never give up.
- LEARN TO ANALYZE DETAILS:
Get all the facts, all the input. Learn from your mistakes.
- FOCUS YOUR TIME AND MONEY:
Don’t let other people or things distract you.
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO INNOVATE; BE DIFFERENT:
Following the herd is sure way to mediocrity.
- DEAL AND COMMUNICATE WITH PEOPLE EFFECTIVELY:
No person is an island. Learn to understand and motivate others.
- BE HONEST AND DEPENDABLE; TAKE RESPONSIBILITY:
Otherwise, Nos. 1-9 won’t matter.
I oversee a staff of 10 and just received my annual performance review. I was genuinely surprised when my boss told me that I do not give enough feedback to my staff. Apparently some of them have complained to him. I am always telling my staff that they do a good job. I am not sure what to do because I already give a lot of praise. Do you have any suggestions? – L
Feedback isn’t the same thing as praise. Your first step is to ask your boss specific information about the complaints. Ironically your boss may have made a similar mistake with you. Right now, you know that something needs to be corrected – but what? Your staff may say to themselves after you praise them, “I know I did something right (or wrong), but what?” Likewise, your boss’s “feedback” to you was not meaningful because it was not specific.
My guess is that you may not give meaningful feedback to your staff. For instance, you may say at the end of a project “Great job”! This is nice to hear but not particularly helpful. Specific feedback would be more helpful such as “your on-time delivery and the details about abc were important to the department, and the impact of this will be xyz”
The word feedback came out of computer terminology and is defined as “the reaction of some results of a process serving to alter or reinforce the character of that process”. Consider what it is you want to reinforce or alter. By giving concrete feedback, you are laying the groundwork for continued success or discontinuing non-productive results. With this approach, you are also providing standards for your team.