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.
- Begin by describing the behavior you’d like to see. How should the report look? How does a professional employee act and dress?
- 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 _____________.”
- 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.
It’s poignant to remember the stages we went through as children and young adults. As infants, children, and teenagers we are expected to hit certain stages where we redefine our relationship to our world and our selves. What I’ve found is once we graduate from college or some advanced degree, we work as through we’re done developing in stages. Suddenly a plateau hits and I wonder – is it just me? Is this natural? How do I develop my leadership effectiveness?
Recently I read John Maxwell’s well known book 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (PDF) and the first law, the Law of the Lid, summarized where I am at this point in my career. I’ve hit my leadership lid. Now, I could continue on and be perfectly effective, but to truly transform my relationship with my employees, my peers, my friends, and my family, I need to lift the lid.
There are two areas where I’ve begun to define what this means at this later point in my career; there’s no question I’ve been successful, but my growth requires a redefinition of terms.
- Used to mean meeting people in order to expand my circle. I offered my skills and expertise in hopes of making connections with others.
- Now networking means offering my skills and expertise in order to build my influence. Who can I count on to support my vision of both my personal growth and that of the organization for which I work? My networking must focus internally as much as externally to develop this influence.
- You’ll notice I still offer my skills and expertise first. That has not changed.
- Used to mean developing a personal brand. I needed to articulate my value in the context of organizational and needs. The focus was on my contribution and competitive advantage.
- Now branding means develpoing a platform of ideas – a vision – that illustrates a future for my organization and its people in the context of internal and external competition. I’m particularly good at articulating my personal brand. Where I now need to focus it the development of my organization’s future.
- My personal part in this vision is both forward facing (I’m literally the face) and secondary to the needs of others.
- I’m struggling most with this one right now. Personally I’ve tended to define my value by how others see me. As an instructor and manager I’ve fought this impluse in order to be effective. If I want to be transformative, I must let go of this definition all together.
- My value, with this redefinition, would be constructed not by other’s opinions of me (do they like me?) but by how valued my employees, friends, and family feel. I am not the primary source of delivering this value to them, but encouraging others to see the value they offer in the best light.
- In a nutshell it doesn’t matter if people like me…do people express thanks to my employees for the value they’ve offered up?
In print these definitions are neat and tidy. In practice I feel like I’m in a game of dodgeball. As many of us know from our childhoods; dodgeball is both frightening and fun at the same time.
Please, join the discussion.
With all honesty, that’s what I’ve been the last six months or so, absent. I choose to let the circle around me that included my home, family, work, passions, all contract a bit to allow me to focus on the foundation of my life and work.
I believe leaders need to do this from time to time, however, when we do we are not leading consistently in all areas of our lives.
Where I’ve shown leadership:
- With my kids: This is where my focus has been the last year due to personal priorities. I desire that my kids see that re-prioritizing and focus are good things. They saw me deal with considerable challenges and come away feeling that I’m not lost but renewed in my efforts to climb the right ladder to the right window. (If you’re unfamiliar with this image I highly recommend the book “First Things First” by Stephen Covey.)
- With myself: I have some work to do personally so I can lead others well. A well-known principle of emotional intelligence is being able to delay gratification. For someone who has worked hard to shine at all times, it’s hard to admit that there is more work to do before I’m able to effectively lead others.
Don’t get me wrong, my business is healthy, my kids are thriving, I love my work, and my relationships are growing. It’s time now to take the next step. I’m fortunate to have mentors around me that will support me in that next step.
Here’s what I’ll commit to over the course of the next year. I’ll share with you what I learn as I journey toward the next stage of leadership.
I hope you’ll engage in dialog with me about leadership through comments as our journeys are not separate but interdependent with one another.
I’ve done a little writing around the topic of personal branding, and what surprised me as I did my research is the number of articles that deal with branding as a clean up mission. It seems people and businesses are jumping into the online space, or business, or a career, without a clear idea of the brand they’d like to project. Instead, they are managing the information that’s been written or perceived about them.
I’ve provided links to three resources in this blog post that will allow a soon to be college graduate, or a new business owner, to get ahead of the personal branding curve. In essence, by first understanding who you are, your brand, you are able to enter your chosen professional space with intention and confidence.
Note: In the spirit of full transparency I work for Rasmussen College as the School of Business Chair in Brooklyn Park, MN. That said, I’m not sharing these resources with you because I work for them, but because I think the material is illuminating, actionable, and provides guidance to new business owners and new graduates.
I recommend exploring the material in the order presented for best results.
I wrote this article for smallbiztrends.com on personal branding for new entrepreneurs to focus on the actual creation of the personal brand itself.
This short video on youtube reinforces that personal branding is not a job description and walks through the steps of how I developed my personal brand.
At this link you’ll find a Personal Branding Webinar put on by Rasmussen College for their soon to be graduates.
These resources will get you well on your way to creating an intentional brand you can support through your behavior, choices, and online presence.
Businesses and communities will always be interdependent. What are those on the front lines saying works between community leaders and business partners?
via Corporate Voices for Working Families
Logo from Soma recordings.
Last night I had my students research and draft a personal branding statement. They, of course, flexed their curiosity and asked me, “Where is your personal brand.” They could all describe it, and what happens when I’m “off-brand.” I’d never written it down, however. I’d been living it for at least 4 years now, so here it is.
“I inspire passion for business through rigorous, globally-focused education.”
Now, to keep living the dream.
There are two ideas that crossed my path this last week that gave me a kick in the pants and caused me to transform and reinvent the purpose of this blog.
The first was an essay by Amy Chua called Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior written for the Wall Street Journal. I burned out a vehement post in response, without context, and certainly without the eloquence that subsequent writers have shown in the Journal. Although I should know better as a writer myself to compose something when my ire is up, the experience had an unusual side effect — I began to use my true voice in this blog. Angry, but authentic.
The second moment of inspiration came from an invitation by Cameron Tuck, a member of a leadership LinkedIn group. He writes a blog called the the Imperfect CEO. Imperfect – CEO. I’d never seen the two words together written by a CEO before. Mind you, I’d thought it many times. I looked at his posts, and they are truly imperfect…not bad, just not the perfection you get when the PR department writes it and you sign your name. His blog has his voice, for better or worse.
I looked over my posts again. When I first started my voice was there, however tentative. As I decided to reach out to the business community with my “wisdom” more actively the posts became more cerebral, more ordered, more perfect…and well…considerably more boring. Hell, I don’t even like to read them twice. It’s troubling that the great information – well composed and properly cited – is lost among the sheer lack of voice. Hmmm.
So, it’s time to welcome the Authentic Me on this Bizlog. I will connect what I do in the classroom and in my family life to how I have, and will, lead. I will sometimes write while I’m angry. I will make mistakes and take accountability for them. I promise my readers, however, that I’ll not be boring.
I tell my students that if I’m bored while I’m teaching, they must be in a coma. Whoo, does that ever go for this blog. If I lapse into Not Me, call me on it. If I anger you; tell me. If I inspire you, tell me and others.
Welcome to the Authentic Me and my way of looking at business. Please, engage.