Providing Feedback

In the Leadership IQ training, I watched sections on providing feedback and giving performance reviews. I won’t get into the detail of the performance review process, but the overarching theme of both videos was to supply FACTS. This also ties back to the Crucial Conversations training I had and a random podcast episode that I now can’t find. They both reiterate the message, “Say what you see.” This means that when you’re talking to someone about their behavior, you can only say the facts about the behavior that you experienced. But if you only use those facts, and not hearsay or he-said/she-said,  the person you’re giving feedback to can only then talk about their intentions or the reasons why they acted the way they did.

In business, feelings don’t help move the needle on changing or improving someone’s performance. The facts win because they are mostly indisputable. But first, don’t ever try to give anyone feedback if you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT). Second, use the acronym FIRE to help craft your conversation with the person. Focus on the Facts of the situation, then you can provide your Interpretation of why the events occurred and the emotional Reaction that it caused you to have. But before you get to telling them the desired End you want to see, you have to ask them if they have any additional facts or information that needs to be mentioned in order for you to have a better picture of what happened and why. Sometimes that action can cause the person to acknowledge their actions and offer suggestions on how they might improve!

The toughest feedback conversations to give are with what Leadership IQ calls the Talented Terrors. This is a type of person who has high skills, but a poor attitude. In traditional business school, these people were still considered High Performers, but the new school of thought realizes that because their poor attitude affects the rest of the team, they actually are considered Low Performers. When giving feedback to this group, you have to be very careful to stick to the facts and not even include any emotion discussion. They are incredibly smart, hence why they’re great at the skills of their job, but they either have poor EQ or are narcissists, and so either don’t understand that they affect people poorly, or they enjoy the power they try to hold and will attempt to treat any conversation about their behavior as a personal attack.

The best way to handle them is to use the CALM approach. Cooly state the facts with no variance in emotion. Avoid blaming them outright for anything – “if we have different perspectives we’ll discuss them and figure out a plan for moving forward.” Look for roadblocks with them by asking what they think would get in the way of fixing it. Finally Manage theirs and your expectations with how you will track their changed behavior and what may happen if the behavior does not change.

I’ve dealt with Talented Terrors before as subordinates and as colleagues. They are not very fun to deal with. It’s especially hard with subordinates if they are not being terrors around you and only around their co-workers. I’m still not sure how to handle “seeing what you saw” if you never see anything, but only hear things from others. Maybe we’ll get to that in a future video or it’s so damn hard that no one has figured it out yet!


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