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Archive for the ‘feedback’ Category

What’s Your Plot?

It was an interesting evening. Many thanks to all of you for coming to the workshop last Wednesday evening, and special thanks to Kim Galle of Resource PI for showing us a great analysis tool. We were each provided with our Predicative Index results, which plotted our behaviors and tendencies based on the brief survey we took online. There were four areas of focus on the PI plot:

  • Dominance
  • Extroversion
  • Patience
  • Formality

The results are plotted along three dimensions – how I am, how I think I need to be, and my synthesis of the two – which is how we appear to others.

My own personal PI Results were not surprising. I have stronger dominance and extroversion characteristics, but it’s the combination of the areas that really tell the story. Kim handed out a sheet that showed our “Behavioral Assets” based on our results. Those assets were interpreted from both a Leading and Managing perspective. Mine showed leadership attributes such as a seeker of understanding, trusting, enthusiastic, and extroverted with people (which actually was surprising – but something I’ve learned in careers that require it). I have a strong future focus, with a “nothing is impossible” outlook.

Sounds good until you flip to the managing side. Although I have strong vision-oriented personality, actually getting the little details done to achieve that vision is not as natural. I’ve learned how to do the details over the course of my career, but as Kim pointed out, those “learned” things tend to drain our energy. That makes it even more important for me to find team members who offset my weaknesses with their strengths.

By the way, if you haven’t read Marcus Buckingham’s Now, Discover Your Strengths, then by all means check it out. Together with the PI, you can have a good overall picture of the job that is most suited for you.

How about you? What did you think? Kim took a lot of questions after the meeting. The meeting satisfaction surveys were very positive, so I’m sure you have something to say. Tell us all what you learned from the meeting, and any other comments you have.

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What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” That phrase was spoken by the prison captain (warden) to prisoner Luke in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke. The captain had just knocked him down, both figuratively and 217px-cool_hand_luke_martinliterally. The captain was showing his superiority over Luke’s lowly position as a prisoner, and serving as a warning to others on the chain gang that he was indeed the boss, and his instructions were to be followed without question.

Unfortunately, around businesses in America today, that attitude can be found in many bosses. And, just like that warden, communication failure is typically the reason for the failure of leadership. Fredrick Taylor’s principle in 1911 that “the workman who is best suited to actually doing the work is incapable of fully understanding the science,” is no longer the best management model. It lacks the essential communication and feedback processes. The American Heritage Dictionary defines communication as “the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, signals, writing, or behavior.” Key to that definition is the word exchange, which implies a 2-way path.

But it’s not just a matter of crafting a clear message. That same message will be heard by different people in different ways. When I went from leading a team of technical professionals to leading a team of call center employees, I learned an important lesson of “situational leadership”. Many years later, I took a course with that subject by Ken Blanchard. Blanchard describes the relationship of the development level of the staff to the appropriate matching style of the leader.

The idea hit home with me. Leadership expectations must indeed be situational. For employees who were at the beginning of their career, much more direction and mentoring must be given, compared to those who have experience and knowledge of their craft. In addition, the ability to identify where a person was in relation to their career was a skill that is more than just a review of their resume of work. Having effective one-on-one meetings with direct reports is an important activity toward understanding the individual’s progress and building a trusting relationship. Early in their career, a more directional approach is required. As the staff member matures in their responsibilities, the transition to more of a coaching model is preferred as they learn to handle the responsibility delegated to them.

I think that excellent communication skills, including both speaking and listening, are the most important proficiency that a manager needs. Communication is always better received when coming from a person with whom you have a relationship. Using that skill effectively will help achieve personal and professional satisfaction, and will most likely propel a qualified manager to a higher level of career growth.

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I’ve always had the seemingly unpopular belief that, at least in the business world, anonymity is synonymous with secrecy. And it always seemed to me that secrecy among team members is a bad thing. Then why does HR seem to be all for an anonymous 360-degree feedback process?

In my job, I need to be challenged, criticized, and pushed to improve my processes, especially communication. Call me crazy, but I’m just not sure how anonymous feedback helps anyone communicate. For me, it’s those one-on-one personal conversations from which I learn the most about myself and my approach to leadership.

Susan Scott, CEO of Fierce, Inc., and author of Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time, agrees. Her recent article lists some “worst best practices,” and puts the anonymous 360-degree feedback at the top of the list. Scott advocates the “365 Face-to-Face Feedback” process, which essentially is truly open and honest communication 365 days a year. She quotes Kevin Kelly, the editor of Wired and the author of Cool Tools.

“But if anonymity is present in any significant quantity, it will poison the system… Trust requires persistent identity. In the end, the more trust the better. Like all toxins, anonymity should be kept as close to zero as possible.”

As Mitch Alegre wrote, we have to understand the ecology of our leadership; our environment and context. Do we value open honesty? As leaders, would our followers agree? And do you, as a follower, give open feedback to leaders in your organization so they can improve?

Check Scott’s article here and let us know your thoughts.

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