Providing proper feedback is a vital component of leading a team. Some leaders may find that sharing feedback is difficult, especially when that feedback is addressing a performance issue or is negative in nature. Some people even have difficulties sharing positive feedback… Maybe it feels unnatural, or it is difficult to encourage someone who is generally underperforming. Most leaders wouldn’t argue the fact that there is value in giving feedback, but may not be sure of the best way to initiate the process. Here are some guidelines to follow when providing feedback:
- First, think about the desired outcome. Are you attempting to warn a team member of inappropriate behavior, or upcoming disciplinary action if performance doesn’t improve? Perhaps you are trying to improve communication among teams or encourage a new leader? In any situation where feedback is provided, it is important to consider the desired outcome so that you can guide the conversation in that direction.
- Communicate clearly. This is extremely important when sharing any information, but especially if it involves a team members job performance, whether positive or negative. There is nothing worse than walking away from a leader or superior feeling confused, or thinking that there is an alternative motivation for what was said… The more clear the message, the more likely it is that you will see the desired result.
- Provide feedback in writing. Often times, communication is easily forgotten if not written down. This is especially important when reviewing performance. Some personality types need time to process and think through feedback before they are able to respond verbally or with action.
- Use a proven system when issuing performance evaluations. It is important to be consistent when sharing feedback and the best way to do that is to use a proven system or template for sharing. A good example would be the “Start, Stop, Continue” method. When using this style of feedback, the leader is prepared in advance with several points communicating what the team member should start doing, stop doing, and continue doing to improve performance. The “continue” part of this kind of evaluation gives the leader the opportunity to encourage and reinforce any positive behaviors displayed by the team member.
How do you provide feedback within your organization?
The Five Dimensions of EQ
During my last post, we began discussing Emotional Intelligence (EI), and how it is measured through Emotional Quotient (EQ). There is an excellent video resource available on this topic through Building Champions, a leadership coaching company founded by Daniel Harkavy, the author of the popular leadership book, “Becoming A Coaching Leader”. You can find the video in which Leadership Coach Bob Noack defines these five dimensions in depth by following this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bx8r4fZxVFo.
There are five dimensions of EQ, and the first three are focused on intrapersonal skills (How a person processes internal emotions and day-to-day events): self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation. According to Building Champions these three dimensions can be defined as follows:
- Self-Awareness: recognizing and understanding your needs, emotions, strengths, limits, drives, and their effect on others.
- Self-Regulation: the ability to control or redirect compulsive impulses, suspend judgment, think before acting, and maintain standards of honesty and integrity.
- Motivation: a passion to work, improve, act on opportunities, and maintain a persistent pursuit of the vision despite set-backs.
The last two dimensions of EQ are interpersonal, and measure how an individual interacts with others. Those two dimensions are defined according to Building Champions as follows:
- Empathy: understanding the emotions of others and taking interest in their concerns; and anticipating, recognizing, and meeting the needs of others.
- Social Skills: proficiency in managing relationships and networks, listening openly, negotiating, and initiating and managing change.
As you think through these definitions and their implications, it is important to remember that these factors can grow and improve over time. Leadership Coach Dan Foster (Also of Building Champions) outlines some great ways to break bad habits as they relate to EQ and growth in leadership in his blog titled “How to Break Bad Habits” which can be found by following this link: http://www.coachdanfoster.com/2014/06/break-bad-habits-part-1/
Over the past few decades thoughts on leadership have changed drastically. In the past, individuals may have been given leadership roles based on seniority or knowledge of technical skills. However, as a younger generation has been slowly introduced into the workforce, expectations of leaders have changed. While previous generations may have chosen one career to stick with for decades, the newest generation tends to shop around for a career where they feel more fulfilled as an individual.
There have been many changes in our society that have been completely undeniable. Technology and social media have made a huge impact on the way the next generation does business. In fact, you can even get customer service support through Twitter now, which would have been unbelievable even twenty years ago! (Can you imagine trying to explain your service issues to someone in 140 characters or less?)
Along with the changes in technology and the job market, the expectations of leaders in our culture have also changed. For past generations it might have been acceptable for leaders to be more autocratic, allowing no space for individual creativity or innovation. Now it seems that the most effective leaders are people who have mastered the art of thinking of others first, and have learned to leverage the strengths of their team members.
It seems that one of the greatest predictors of success in leadership has become Emotional Intelligence (EI). This is a topic that might sound familiar, but hasn’t always been a focus for leaders in years past. Building Champions, a leadership coaching company founded by Daniel Harkavy, has posted an overview explaining EI and how it is measured, which is known as Emotional Quotient (EQ). You can find that video on their YouTube Channel by following this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bx8r4fZxVFo.
In this video, Leadership Coach Bob Noack defines EI as the capacity to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of self, and of others. The significance of EQ as mentioned by this video, is that unlike personality tests or IQ, EQ can actually grow and change over time. Throughout this video, Coach Bob discusses the five dimensions that are measured in EQ, and they are as follows:
- Social Skills
As you may have noticed, the first three dimensions of EQ are Intrapersonal, meaning that they relate to how a person processes internal emotions and day-to-day events. The last two are measuring Intrapersonal Skills, which gauge how a leader interacts with others. Next week, I will summarize the five dimensions of EQ here on the blog.
As you lead throughout the day, do you find yourself motivated more through positive relationships or positive results? Obviously most leaders want to see positive results in their organizations. For corporations, these positive results may be defined in profitability or efficiency; however other organizations may look to attendance or population growth as a positive result. While organizations as a whole typically measure success through positive results, individual leaders may find that they are more drawn to the relational side of leading. While most leaders aim to influence and lead people, their styles are different when it comes to naturally valuing relationships or results. Even though leaders might be drawn to one side of the spectrum, some of the best leaders are able to find a balance between the two. Valuing relationships AND results is the fourth key in becoming a servant leader according to Mark Miller’s SERVE Model.
Think of relationships and results as the “love languages” of a leader. For a leader that values relationships, having a deep conversation with one of his team members could potentially energize and refresh him. Even better, when the leader sees growth and progress from that individual, he feels recharged and might even find purpose in his otherwise mundane responsibilities. These leaders tend to manage through influence and easily find common ground among the team. Often motivating their team through personal and professional development; this leader can easily make a champion out of the underdog as he determines what motivates each player, and relates that to the common goals of his team.
We have all been there… Your morning has been great. You’re walking into your office and your coworker meets you at the door with a laundry list of drama that somehow materialized between dinner last night and your first cup of coffee. Things you were blissfully unaware of before stepping onto the property that morning. As you are wishing you could go back to that first sip of coffee when all was right with the world; you become inundated with details of a personnel conflict and start brainstorming possible solutions. Maybe every once in a while you wonder how efficiently you could complete your daily responsibilities if you didn’t have to deal with conflict among your family or work team.
Of course, most people have that one acquaintance that seems to create conflict for their personal entertainment, but aside from that person, most people don’t seek out conflict. However, I think the most successful people in life (professionally and personally), realize that conflict is important and even necessary for growth.
In fact, Patrick Lencioni identifies “Fear of Conflict” as a major hindrance to team building in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” It is easy to see the value and potential in conflict when it is quickly resolved and thought of as a learning opportunity. For instance, when it comes to relationships, a conflict with your spouse or loved one may become an identifier of a negative behavior in yourself, or the true feelings of the other person involved. Within an organization, these conflicts may reveal something as simple as lack of training, or something as profound as a lack of trust. In both situations, these factors can only be dealt with and identified once out in the open.
When it comes to team building and leadership within an organization, Tuckman’s Stages of Team Formation shows us that the “storming” phase, or the phase where most conflicts occur, is only the second stage in a team’s development on its way to becoming high performing. The four stages include Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing; each one building on the previous stage. In this model, it’s as if the ability to resolve conflict and establish boundaries becomes the launching pad for growth and performance within the organization. Without this phase, the necessary depth within the team to build trust and work together simply does not exist.
During the storming phase, a lag in performance is always present, and it represents an opportunity for the leader of the team to take initiative and quickly coach the team beyond this phase. Once these necessary conflicts are overcome, roles and responsibilities within the team are defined and performance moves forward into the next phase quickly recovering and gaining efficiency.
Of course, it’s important to pick your battles, because not all conflicts are worthwhile. There is a fine line between healthy conflict and incessant quarreling. Proverbs 15:18 says, “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.” Because of this verse I would say that difference lies between a calm discussion and an emotional confrontation. If you aren’t able to discuss the issue with a controlled tone of voice, it might be better to revisit the discussion when emotions have settled and the issue can be discussed calmly.
How has conflict built a more effective team in your organization?
Take a moment and imagine a battle scene (think swords and horses rather than bullets and machinery). Maybe you can relate this picture to something you have seen in a movie recently. The troops are getting nervous as they see the enemy approaching; they may look fearful or reluctant. Suddenly a leader emerges and takes charge. He reminds the soldiers of their mission and what brought them all together. In the midst of his inspirational speech, the men stand taller, and the leader finally calls them to charge. He sets the example by running with determination towards the opposing side. With an overwhelming roar and the intense sound of feet rushing along behind him, you quickly observe legions of men charging towards each other without regard for their eminent death. With intensity the two sides grow closer and closer, until finally they violently collide in the center of the battle field. The front line men are the first of many casualties, along with the leader that led them into charge.
Maybe the leader felt heroic as the first of his men to die. Maybe he wanted to pay the high price that many of his men would pay that day. I always wonder who is left to lead the men and direct them as they continue to fight. If the battle takes a turn for the worst, who has the authority to call for retreat? Who is set apart to direct the troops to the weak points of the opposing side? These important aspects of strategy are potentially left behind with the leader, who died on the front lines of battle.
This seems to be a common misconception of leadership, as many people lead this way in their personal and professional lives. Some leaders feel that the way to earn the respect of their team is to jump into the middle of an operation and lead from the “front line.” Unfortunately, leaders practicing this style fail to recognize that many aspects of leadership simply cannot be performed effectively from the front lines of an organization.
For example, casting a vision or creating a strategy must be done from a very broad view of the organization. The leader must be aware of many factors that can affect the goals of the overall vision. They should be in a position to anticipate the needs of their team members, and be aware of external factors caused by competition, the economy, etc.
Of course, by being responsible for the big picture, they are serving their organization by providing a clear vision and a strong course of action. Without this person, team members could find themselves shuffling in different directions, or discontented by a lack of purpose or clear expectations. Having a broad vantage point allows the leader to be in a proactive position, as they can much more easily direct, or redirect the vision when necessary. A leader who sees the big picture in this way would likely be much more effective than leading from the front lines.
Think back to the original battle scene. Imagine the differences there could have been if the leader set the charge and directed from behind. Leading in this way not only enables the leader to see the big picture, but allows his team members to lead the charge and become the celebrated heroes of the battle.
Leave your comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts on this article.