Monday, December 10, 2007

Always Deliver Honest Feedback

“For a leader, the 'soft' option is never an option”

... ignoring a problem and hoping it will go away will just makes things worse. Direct, candid feedback is essential; people deserve such honesty and are likely to thrive as a result.

How best to manage your people

1. Being candid and giving people honest feedback is always the right thing to do, as through this you are being loyal to both the individual concerned and to the company.

2. When delivering honest feedback it is important to be supportive and constructively critical.

3. When you’re having a conversation with an individual who is experiencing difficulties your message must be clear, because at the end of the day no one should be under any misunderstanding as to what was said, what is required from both sides, and what will happen if either side does not deliver on its objectives.

4. Don't ever think that a problem will just go away on its own: it won't. Leaving the issue to stagnate will just make it worse and much harder to deal with.

Ideas for Action

Prepare thoroughly for any performance review; this includes a checklist for everything you’ll want to discuss beforehand.

Remind the individual of the company values, which they were probably given upon joining the company. Give them another set to take away with them, and explain how their behavior is out of kilter with this and the performance of the rest of the team. Also explain how their actions are affecting the rest of the team’s performance.

In order to ensure that there is no misunderstanding about what was discussed, have the meeting’s notes typed up and confidentially circulated to all present. This gives a clear benchmark of your expectancy of the individual’s behavior going forward.

Put time aside in your own diary every few months to evaluate your team's individual performances. By keeping a regular eye on their activities and conduct you may be able to spot potential problems before they have time to manifest themselves.

Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

Is there someone you should be having a frank conversation with, but are procrastinating in doing so?

How do you strike the right balance between being constructive and being critical in this kind of situation?

Can you think of an instance in which you left it too long to give one of your direct reports some honest feedback? What did you learn from the experience?

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