Leadership

Three ways leaders can use feedback to improve employee performance

Providing feedback to employees can be one of the most challenging responsibilities of a leader. There seem to be two extremes: 

  1. Some managers completely avoid giving feedback. 
  2. Other managers provide feedback that upsets employees in a way that is counterproductive.
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In my leadership coaching practice, I frequently discuss giving feedback with my clients. The goal of this blog is to provide three ways leaders can use feedback to improve employee performance. 

Providing feedback immediately after something does not goes as well as expected:

In this video, The secret to giving great feedback, cognitive psychologist LeeAnn Renniger provides a four step process for delivering difficult feedback:

  1. “The micro-yes” helps the feedback receiver know feedback is coming. The feedback deliverer asks a question such as “Do you have five minutes to talk about how that last conversation went?” The micro-yes commits the feedback receiver to the conversation.
  2. A “data point” is a specific description of what was observed. If an employee has missed a deadline, the leader might say “You were supposed to turn in the report by the end of yesterday, and I still haven’t received it.”
  3. A leader should “show impact” by describing the impact of the data point. For example, the leader could say “As a result of not receiving the report, I could not begin the proposal for a customer who expects the proposal today.” 
  4. The leader should “end on a question” such as “How are we going to move forward?” This approach can make it a two way conversation and create buy in. 

This five minute video is a must-watch for anyone who has to deliver difficult feedback. The approach can also be applied to providing positive feedback that is very specific in nature. At the end of the video, Renninger also mentions the importance of leaders asking for feedback from those around them. 

Providing regular, ongoing feedback

Marshall Goldsmith has suggested a six question agenda for meetings with direct reports that includes the following questions:

  1. “Where are we going?”
  2. “Where are you going?”
  3. “What is going well?”
  4. “Where can we improve?”
  5. “How can I help you?”
  6. “How can you help me?”

Goldsmith suggests the manager ask the questions of the direct report and then the manager can provide additional comments. For example, when the manager asks “What is going well?” the direct report may share information that the manager is not aware of. The manager can add areas that he or she has observed are going well. The “Where can we improve?” question allows an opportunity for the direct report to share some ways to improve, and the manager can agree or possibly add another area of improvement. This approach allows the manager to develop an excellent rapport with direct reports and remain informed of efforts throughout the company. 

Providing feedback from multiple sources

There is value in gathering feedback from multiple sources. We often use a 360 degree feedback process to gather information from direct reports, supervisors, customers, and peers. The input is compiled into a single report to provide confidential feedback. This approach allows those providing feedback an opportunity to be open and honest with their comments. Simple questions such as “What is this person doing well?” or “What changes do you suggest this person makes?” can be used. The questions can also be more specific based on the type of position. After providing feedback from a 360 degree process, I recommend developing a growth plan for the employee. Giving the employee an opportunity to select an area of improvement is a great way to develop buy in for the improvement process. Companies might consider utilizing a 360 degree feedback process on a regular basis such as once a year or every other year. 

I hope these suggestions are helpful. Please contact us if you would like to discuss leadership coaching and training options. 

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Are you ready to learn how we can help develop your leaders?

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) Certified Practitioner.

Effective Teams, Leadership, Strategy

What is your organization’s long term remote working strategy?

I recently provided a webinar through University of Evansville’s Center for the Advancement of Learning related to engaging remote workers. As organizations navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, many are scrambling to accommodate a remote work environment for their employees. The adjustment can be particularly challenging for those organizations who have maintained a traditional office working environment. I encourage organizations to explore whether there are new opportunities for them as a result of the current remote working environment. 

Gallup has been tracking employee engagement since 2000. They categorize employees into the following groups (Harter, 4 February 2020):

  1. Engaged – “those who are highly involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace”
  2. Not engaged – “those who are psychologically unattached to their work and company and who put time, but not energy or passion, into their work”
  3. Actively disengaged – “those who have miserable work experiences and spread their unhappiness to their colleagues”

Gallup reports a record percentage of employees at the engaged level for 2019: 35% (with 52% not engaged and 13% actively disengaged). According to Harter (4 February 2020), engaged employees: 

  • “produce substantially better outcomes
  • treat customers better and attract new ones
  • are more likely to remain with their organization than those who are less engaged.
  • Engaged employees are also healthier and less likely to experience burnout.”

According to the Remote Work Study (Zapier, 13 November 2019), 

  • “95 percent of U.S. knowledge workers want to work remotely”
  • “74 percent would be willing to quit a job to do so”
  • “57 percent” say the option to work remotely is one of the perks they’d most prefer to be offered by an employer.

I was surprised to see the incredibly high interest in remote working, and I think there will be continued desire for remote working after the pandemic. 

Gallup (Hickman & Robison, 24 January 2020) has linked the highest level of engagement to those who work remotely three to four days a week (60%-<80%) and work in the office one to two days a week (41% engaged, 48% not engaged, and 11% actively disengaged). It is important to note that employees who worked remotely all of the time had lower levels of engagement (30% engaged, 54% not engaged, and 16% actively disengaged), and these engagement numbers are similar to those who do not work remotely at all (30% engaged, 55% not engaged, and 15% actively disengaged). 

Based on the desire for employees to work remotely and the high levels of engagement that can result from a hybrid remote working environment (time spent working remotely and in a traditional office), organizations have the opportunity to reimagine their future working arrangements. 

Here are some items to consider regarding remote working:

  1. Are there cost savings opportunities to reduce office space?
  2. Will a remote working environment help us improve employee engagement?
  3. Will a remote work environment help us retain and attract talent?
  4. Are our leaders equipped with the necessary skills to successfully manage remote employees?
  5. What work activities can take place remotely and what needs to take place in person?
  6. Do we need to more fully explore ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) to clearly define outcomes for employees’ work?

As many organizations are developing a plan to return to the office, I recommend strategic discussions about the future of remote working in organizations. This is a great opportunity to gather input and make decisions that could have an impact on the future success of organizations. We are skilled facilitators who have helped organizations navigate complex problem solving. If you need help in this area, please contact us

References:

Harter, J. (2020, February 4). 4 Factors Driving Record-High Employee Engagement in U.S. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/284180/factors-driving-record-high-employee-engagement.aspx

Hickman, A., & Robison, J, (24 January 2020). Is Working Remotely Effective? Gallup Research Says Yes. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/283985/working-remotely-effective-gallup-research-says-yes.aspx

Zapier Editorial Team (13 November 2019). The Remote Work Report. Retrieved from https://zapier.com/blog/remote-work-report-by-zapier/

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Ready to learn how we can help your organization develop a planning process for long term success?

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer.

Leadership

A leader’s infinite mindset inspires

I recently read Simon Sinek’s The Infinite Game, and I find many of the concepts particularly relevant to our current situation. All individuals and organizations have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way, and the uncertainty of the situation is particularly troubling. Restrictions are gradually being lifted where I live, and that seems to create hope for many people that better times are in sight. However, there is still anxiety about the chance of a second wave and the accompanying implications on our health and economy. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In The Infinite Game, Sinek describes finite and infinite games. We are all very familiar and comfortable with finite games, because they have defined rules, players, etc. Athletic events are examples of finite games, and we know what it takes to win one. In business, quarterly or annual financial benchmarks are examples of finite games. Businesses set a goal, and we know whether we “won” or “lost” based on whether we met the metric. 

In contrast, “the primary objective is to keep playing, to perpetuate the game” in infinite games (p. 4). I think the infinite game is about knowing who we are at our individual and organizational best rather than looking for finite measures. It is a long term perspective that focuses on success now and especially in the future. Sinek writes:

“In the Infinite Game, the true value of an organization cannot be measured by the success it has achieved based on a set of arbitrary metrics over arbitrary time frames. The true value of an organization is measured by the desire others have to contribute to that organization’s ability to keep succeeding, not just during the time they are there, but well beyond their own tenure.” (p. 9)

Many organizations are losing the finite game as we speak. They are missing monthly and quarterly quotas, decreased sales, lower productivity, laying off employees, etc. It is easy to succumb to finite thinking and get discouraged. During difficult times, leaders often have a short term perspective.

During the challenges brought by the pandemic, I encourage leaders to think about the infinite game. How might we use this time to ensure our organizations are better in the long run? At some point, we know scientists will find a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19. It’s only a question of when. 

During the challenging weeks and months ahead, how are leaders building teams and employees focused on their “organization’s ability to keep succeeding?” (p. 9). This is a time when leaders can focus on improving company culture, expanding technology capabilities, developing innovative products and services, training their team, and other areas that contribute to the infinite game. While there are many things out of the control of leaders right now, leaders can focus on those areas they have influence over.

Here are some questions worth reflecting on and discussing:

  1. Is our organization focused on the finite game or the infinite game?
  2. How might we build a stronger company culture where everyone is focused on the “organization’s ability to keep succeeding?” (p. 9)?
  3. What can we do now to make our organization and people better in the long run?
  4. How might we view this time as an opportunity to act on items that we have previously put off?

The finite mindset focuses on just surviving the pandemic until life gets back to normal. The infinite mindset focuses on a path that will allow the organization to thrive now and in the future. Finite does not inspire. An infinite mindset inspires people to dream big and be part of something bigger than themselves. 

We help clients focus on an infinite mindset through planning processes, leadership coaching, and building organizational culture. 

Reference: Sinek, S. (2019). The Infinite Game.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Ready to learn how we can help your organization and leaders develop an infinite mindset?

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer.

Effective Teams, Innovation, Leadership

The value of gathering feedback and debriefing right now

We have made adjustments in our organizational and personal lives as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many organizations have implemented remote working, modified services, and developed new products. Some have fundamentally changed how they operate. I have had some disappointing experiences in recent weeks with retailers, but I have also had some great experiences. 

I wonder if organizations are taking time to ask the following questions:

  1. How are these changes going?
  2. What are we doing well?
  3. What lessons have we learned?
  4. What changes do we need to make?

When I facilitate meetings, I try to spend time at the end debriefing the meeting as a group. Doug Sundheim wrote: “Debriefing is a structured learning process designed to continuously evolve plans while they’re being executed.” The debriefing provides the group an opportunity to reflect on their work together and identify ways to improve their performance in the future. In addition, I use a debriefing during and at the end of projects and processes. 

K-12 schools and universities across the country are adjusting to providing virtual instruction. Many have limited experience with e-learning, and some have never done it before. 

Higher education has struggled in recent years as a result of increasing tuition rates, low unemployment, and decreasing numbers of high school graduates. Many private universities will especially feel the economic consequences of the pandemic. Families will be forced to make difficult financial decisions due to decreased wages or economic uncertainty. 

We all know that retaining an existing customer is easier than gaining a new customer. As an organization makes major changes in response to a crisis, it needs to take time to debrief on how well things are going. As Sundheim suggested, we need to “continuously evolve plans while they’re being executed.”

If you’re a K-12 school or university, are you asking your students and families how well virtual learning is going? This feedback will be critical for satisfaction rates, retention rates, relationship building, and quality learning experiences.

If you’re a restaurant or retailer that has adjusted to curbside pick ups, are you asking your customers about the quality of their experience? This feedback will be critical for satisfaction rates, ease of experience, customer retention, and attracting new customers.

If you’re a company that has moved to increased remote working environments, are you asking your employees about their job satisfaction? This feedback will be critical for retaining top talent, employee productivity, and customer service. 

If you’re a nonprofit who is dependent on donor support, are you asking your donors about their experiences with the organization? This feedback will be critical for donor retention, prioritization of services, and future initiatives.

In recent weeks, we have administered surveys and have been surprised to receive higher response rates than we typically anticipate. Some people are busier now, but many have more time than usual to provide valuable input. This is an opportunity for organizations right now. Consider asking for overall satisfaction levels and opportunities to improve, especially when you add new or change existing services. After you gather input, your team can use the debriefing questions listed above.

Strong organizations will gather feedback and make adjustments to ensure high satisfaction levels, customer retention rates, improve relationships, and boost productivity levels. During difficult times, people will remember whether you made their lives easier or more difficult. The organizations that are willing to listen now will be stronger in the near and long term. 

We help organizations gather feedback and facilitate planning processes to ensure future success. There can be advantages of utilizing an outside resource in the midst of a crisis. Please contact us for more information.

We wish you health and happiness. Stay well.

Sundheim, D. (2015, July 2). Debriefing: A simple tool to help your team tackle tough problems. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2015/07/debriefing-a-simple-tool-to-help-your-team-tackle-tough-problems

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Ready to learn how we can help your organization collect feedback and develop a plan for organizational success?

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer.

Innovation, Leadership, Strategy

The new normal

A lot has changed since the middle of last week as a result of COVID-19. On Thursday night, the president addressed the country, and on Friday social distancing became a common phrase, schools were cancelled, universities moved to all online classes, travel plans were changed, and businesses started feeling the impact of the pandemic. I am not a health expert but have closely followed the news. Based on what I continue to read, things will get worse before they get better, and we all need to find ways to adapt.

As a self-employed consultant, I have started to feel the impact of COVID-19. Some of the in-person workshops I am scheduled to lead have been postponed and others have been moved to an online format. Onsite group facilitated meetings might be cancelled unless another alternative can be arranged. My work will continue, but I will need to adjust to the new normal. I recommend organizations do the following during these challenging times:

  1. Stay the course. It is easy to get overwhelmed right now, but our organizations need to keep moving forward. Our products and services are still important and needed. The economy needs business activity.
  2. Plan accordingly. The US Chamber of Commerce has shared resources for businesses in response to COVID-19. Their checklist suggests businesses “prioritize critical operations, prepare for school closings, create a communication plan, establish possible teleworking policies, and coordinate with state external & local external health officials.” Encourage your employees to take the necessary precautions to eliminate and reduce the spread of the virus.
  3. Adjust. I have tried to stay positive during this time and continue to consider new ways to leverage technology to deliver services. In the coming months, I anticipate delivering more online workshops and using videoconferencing tools to conduct meetings. These tools can keep our organizations moving forward and reduce travel.

We are skilled at utilizing technology to deliver leadership training / coaching. In addition, we have had success working remotely with clients facilitating meetings, developing strategy, and leading creative problem solving. It can be difficult to replicate the experience of being in person, but there are many great tools available for organizations. In addition to leadership, strategy, and creative problem solving services, we have helped organizations leverage technology to deliver training.

The coming weeks and months will likely give us all more time at home. I hope we can all make the most of this time to devote our attention to family and friends. In addition, I sincerely hope that we can all adapt and become stronger as a result of these challenges. Stay healthy.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Ready to learn how we can help your organization’s leadership, strategy, creativity through the use of technology?

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer.