Giving and Receiving Feedback – A Process for Growth

Use Feedback as a Teaching and Development Tool

Frequent and specific feedback is critical to learning. It’s even more important than when you’re coaching an intern, new employee, or employee with performance issues. Depending on the length and intensity of the training needs, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly scheduled feedback is necessary for growth and development. Don’t underestimate the power of impromptu, positive feedback as you notice your intern/employee doing work or behaving in a way that meets or exceeds your expectations. Catching someone doing the right thing is far more effective than jumping on errors.

When corrective action is necessary, use this quick process to make sure your feedback is focused on the development of your intern’s/employee’s skills.

  1. Begin by describing the behavior you’d like to see. How should the report look? How does a professional employee act and dress?
  2. Follow up with the behavior you have observed. Try filling in the following sentence(s), “I’ve noticed ________ and it’s important to ____________ because it will help you _____________.”
  3. End by discussing (not prescribing) how to bridge the gap between what you’d like to happen and what you have observed. Make sure to include the intern/employee in the problem solving by asking for input.

It’s also important to open yourself to feedback. Coaching your intern/employee to learn to give feedback is as valuable as teaching them to receive it. Modeling the appropriate behavior is essential.

  • Listen without interrupting and without defensiveness. Take the opportunity to receive feedback as a growth opportunity for yourself and your business.
  • Ask questions to clarify the feedback. Guide the intern toward the example above. What did the intern expect to see and why? What did the intern observe?
  • Discuss what could account for the gap.
  • Thank the intern for providing feedback.

As managers and business owners we often develop tunnel vision. Using a clear process to coach an intern or employee is a great way to encourage an open flow of communication. Who knows what heights you’ll reach with a new set of eyes.


Helping Local Communities Strengthen Business Engagement Strategies (via Corporate Voices for Working Families)

Businesses and communities will always be interdependent. What are those on the front lines saying works between community leaders and business partners?

On Thursday, February 11, 2011, Corporate Voices for Working Families’ Ready by 21 team facilitated a “peer learning” call with the Ready by 21 Southeast Communities on business engagement.  Corporate Voices provided an overview of its series of business and community tools, and in particular the Supporting the Education Pipeline:  Business Engagement Toolkit for Community-Based Organizations, focused on helping private and public leaders in comm … Read More

via Corporate Voices for Working Families

Benefits of Process Interventions


Group Process: Wait…don’t groan

That’s right, another lecture about working well in groups. Why so many? It’s simple, groups done well turn to teams, and teams can get more done, and better, than a group of individuals. There are three factors of working in teams that affect the quality of performance: what the team does (task), how the team does it (process), and productivity (Herold, 1978). All three legs of the stool must be solid in order to perform at a high level that creates a strong business culture, opportunities for the business, and career success. Process interventions ensure that the team is able to realize these benefits through quality task and process alignment.

Recipe for quality teams

Empowerment: Involve team members in planning and strategizing how to get the job done. Understanding that learning must precede change, called the Universal Change Principle, is the first step in dissolving resistance to change (Lick, 2000).

Synergy: The magic that turns a group of individuals into a team is called synergy. Teams with synergy have a culture and pattern of interaction all their own. According to Lick (2000), “Members of a synergistic…[team] inspire and energize each other, and the openness and diversity of perspectives create new ideas, knowledge, and problem-solving potential” (pg. 46).

Trust: Is essential for team success. There is a fear of failure that compels teams toward success (Glassman, 1975). Trust in your teammates builds confidence in the completion of tasks, the team process, and the outcome. In other words, trust affects the quality of all three legs of the stool.

Interaction: Promoting both formal and informal opportunities for interaction encourages the development of trust and synergy and team members express their empowerment through advocating for their ideas. This ingredient, effective interaction, is often where groups struggle during when navigating more socially complex tasks (Herold, 1978). It’s a common entry point for process consultations by O.D. professionals. When teams interact and communicate well they grow and evolve to higher performance.

Derailing effective teamwork

These symptoms indicate a need for process interventions as they can derail team cohesion.

Jockeying for position: When groups lack trust and a common vision, members jockey for formal status (Glassman, 1975) preventing the formation of an effective team. Rotating leadership responsibility or restructuring the team’s reporting process might be in order.

Finding a common scapegoat: Has your group every complained about that “one person” that, if gone, would make everything better? This type of behavior indicates the group has identified a common scapegoat, or one person to blame for all the inefficiency in the group process (Glassman, 1975). Rarely is one person responsible for the group’s ills. Instead, the group’s inability to form a team can be linked to issues of empowerment, trust, and interaction.

Often different expectations between consultant and client can lead to ineffective processes. Plan your team’s workflow to include empowerment, trust, and interaction to create synergy that will make your team a source, not for groans, but for cheers.


Glassman, A. (1975). Team consultation: a revealing analysis. Academy of Management Proceedings , 116-118.

Herold, D. (1978). Improving the performance effectiveness of groups through a task-contingent slection of intervention strategies. Academy of Management Review , 3 (2), 315-325.

Lick, D. (2000). Whole faculty study groups: facilitating mentoring for school-wide change. Theory Into Practice , 39 (1), 43-49.

What the Email Etiquette Sites Won’t Teach You

How much time do you spend trying to think of what you’ll say? Most Americans spend the time they should be listening thinking about their next move or their next argument. We’re so focused on ourselves, that we forget the most important part of communication – the transfer of meaning. Author John Reh’s article (n.d.) titled “Getting My Point Across” ( states that it’s more important to concentrate on what you want the other person to hear vs. what you want to say.

How can you possibly control that; you might wonder. After all, I tell my kid not to bounce the ball, and all he hears, is “bounce ball.” This example goes to show that crafting your message is crucial. What if I’d said, “take the ball outside.” With this message, considered from my listener’s point of view, I might get better results because I know my listener, my kid. Any excuse to go outside and he’s there. The process is not that different when you are talking to peers.

First, get to know them. Consider his or her communicating style preference. Does he prefer a lot of facts; is she the type that wants you to get to the bottom line; should you start with a question about the family; do you need to start out with an attention grabber? These styles are four buckets that fit the general tendencies of most people.

Second, what channel will you use? Contrary to popular culture, email and text are not the best ways to get your meaning across, but they are the easiest. Opt for as close as you can get to face to face whenever possible so that you can add important no-verbal signals to your words. That might be Skype, the phone, or the good old fashioned walk over to the desk method.

Finally, communicating with others is not about proving you’re smart, it’s about being smart. Don’t use “big words” or jargon to show off what you know. If you are talking to the accounting department, don’t use acronyms common to your work in marketing. Be straightforward and say exactly what you mean. I call this the, “Get in and get out” method. If I mean sales are decreasing every three months, that’s what I’ll say. If I’m unhappy with the response time from shipping I’m not going to spout policy and jargon. I’m going to say that I want to work with shipping to improve response time so we can keep our customers happy. As Reh (n.d.) says in his article, “If you want your service department to handle more calls per day, tell them that. Don’t tell them they need to “reduce the time interval between customer-interface opportunities” (para. 7). Get in, get out, done.

Step outside your head and see from the perspective of your audience to be more successful in transferring your message.