FEEDBACK & Are You Sugarcoating Your Feedback Without Realizing It? Research Says Do These 4 Things Instead.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I tell my church growth and health clients that I will be brutally honest with them and they must be prepared for direct and non-sugarcoated feedback. If they’re not willing to receive such feedback, then I can’t take them as a client. That is because I’ve learned over the years that without clear and honest feedback clients will misinterpret the severity of the situation. Below is research that explains the illusion of transparency bias.

Are You Sugarcoating Your Feedback Without Realizing It?

by Michael Schaerer and Roderick Swaab, Harvard Business Review, 10/8/19.

… Managers tend to inflate the feedback they give to their direct reports, particularly when giving bad news. And by presenting subpar performance more positively than they should, managers make it impossible for employees to learn, damaging their careers and, often, the company.

Previous research into this kind of feedback inflation has centered on the idea that managers deliberately sugarcoat tough messages for fear of retaliation, or to protect their employees from feeling bad about themselves. But our research shows that many managers deliver inflated feedback unintentionally, and in fact think they’ve been much more clear than is the case. These findings point to some simple ways to improve how managers impart criticism.

We believe that managers’ assumption that their direct reports understand what they mean is due to a common cognitive bias called the illusion of transparency, in which people are so focused on their own intense feelings and intentions that they overestimate the extent to which their inner worlds come across to others. As a result their words may be too vague to convey their true intent. The illusion of transparency is one of the most commoncauses of misunderstandings when we communicate with others…

What to Do About It

While it can be helpful to become aware of unintentional behaviors, overcoming them is notoriously difficult. Our research points to several ways to combat the illusion of transparency.

First, increase the frequency of feedback. As a manager, you can augment your annual appraisals with continuous reminders, ongoing training, and structured weekly or monthly “pulse checks” to break the discomfort that may be preventing you from communicating more clearly. Research has found that giving feedback more frequently makes feedback more accurate. This repetition will also help reinforce your message.

Firms should also promote a culture that encourages employees to request more candid feedback from their managers prior to appraisals. Failing that, firms can institute a formal process obligating them to do so.

… Ultimately, clarity and specificity of language are managers’ best tools. Use clear language and avoid phrases that could obscure your meaning. One phrase to avoid, for example, is “a real possibility,” which people interpret as conveying a likelihood of anywhere from 20%–80%. Also, ask your employee to paraphrase what you’ve told them to make sure they fully understand your message. Managers also need to actively encourage employees to tell them how they see their own performance. As a manager, ask open-ended questions like, “What am I not seeing here? What may I be overlooking?”

Employees themselves can dispel many incorrect assumptions by asking questions, or by requesting that managers use precise, explicit terms when delivering feedback. If your manager doesn’t ask you to rearticulate what they’ve told you, try using statements that begin, “So if I’m understanding you correctly, you’re saying…”

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2019/10/are-you-sugarcoating-your-feedback-without-realizing-it?

FEEDBACK & Harvard Research Says If You Want to Improve Your Performance Don’t Ask for Feedback, Ask For Advice

by Scott Mautz, Inc. Magazine, 8/17/19.

The normal line of thinking goes that if you want to improve at something– let’s say it’s a key sales presentation you’ve just given– that you should ask the people you just gave it to for feedback. Seems reasonable.

But the Harvard researchers discovered that there’s a real problem with this approach. Feedback is often too vague to even be helpful. And in my experience, when you frame it as asking for feedback, people often default to being nice and not wanting to say what they really think. It’s human nature. But human nature doesn’t nurture in this case, it just glosses over.

The researchers say there’s a far better alternative if you want to get better at something–ask for advice.

Why asking for advice is better than asking for feedback.

In one study, the researchers asked 200 people to give input on a job application, asking some to give feedback on the application and others to give advice. Those who gave feedback were vague and glossed over flaws in the application, giving only praise.

Those who were asked to give advice gave more critical and actionable input. In fact, advice-givers gave comments on a whopping 34 percent more areas of improvement and gave 56 percent more ways to improve. Three more studies by the researchers produced similar conclusions.

The studies also highlighted another problem with asking for advice–it’s associated with evaluations.

Imagine you just got off stage from giving that sales presentation I mentioned earlier. You then pick out an audience member to give you feedback. What happens? They immediately go into evaluation mode rather than picturing how you could do that presentation better in the future. So their comments migrate to observations of how well you did something (or not), in their minds articulating a mental letter grade they’re giving you.

But if you asked for advice instead, it puts the audience member in a different frame of mind. Now, implicit in the fact that you’re asking for advice, is the fact that you’re open to getting better.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/scott-mautz/harvard-research-says-if-you-want-to-improve-your-performance-dont-ask-for-feedback-ask-for-advice.html

HUBRIS & Why it is the enemy of good leadership. #HarvardBusinessReview #DeathByPlanningBook

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: One of my books for Abingdon Press is called Growth by Accident, Death by Planning: How not to kill a growing congregation. I looked at churches that were growing and the mistakes they made that usually stopped that growth. One of the mistakes was allowing “hubris” to subtly affect the leader. This article in Harvard Business Review cites research that confirms this hypotheses.

Ego Is the Enemy of Good Leadership

by Rasmus Hougaard & Jacqueline Carter , Harvard Business Review, 11/6/18.

… As we rise in the ranks, we acquire more power. And with that, people are more likely to want to please us by listening more attentively, agreeing more, and laughing at our jokes. All of these tickle the ego. And when the ego is tickled, it grows. David Owen, the former British Foreign Secretary and a neurologist, and Jonathan Davidson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, call this the “hubris syndrome,” which they define as a “disorder of the possession of power, particularly power which has been associated with overwhelming success, held for a period of years.”

… Our ego is like a target we carry with us. And like any target, the bigger it is, the more vulnerable it is to being hit. In this way, an inflated ego makes it easier for others to take advantage of us. Because our ego craves positive attention, it can make us susceptible to manipulation. It makes us predictable. When people know this, they can play to our ego. When we’re a victim of our own need to be seen as great, we end up being led into making decisions that may be detrimental to ourselves, our people, and our organization.

An inflated ego also corrupts our behavior. When we believe we’re the sole architects of our success, we tend to be ruder, more selfish, and more likely to interrupt others. This is especially true in the face of setbacks and criticism. In this way, an inflated ego prevents us from learning from our mistakes and creates a defensive wall that makes it difficult to appreciate the rich lessons we glean from failure.

Finally, an inflated ego narrows our vision. The ego always looks for information that confirms what it wants to believe. Basically, a big ego makes us have a strong confirmation bias. Because of this, we lose perspective and end up in a leadership bubble where we only see and hear what we want to. As a result, we lose touch with the people we lead, the culture we are a part of, and ultimately our clients and stakeholders.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2018/11/ego-is-the-enemy-of-good-leadership

FEEDBACK & Harvard research shows “negative feedback” only works – when the recipient truly feels valued by the giver: 4 things to do.

Surprising Harvard Research Says Giving Negative Feedback to Peers Won’t Work (Unless You Do 1 Simple Thing)

by Scott Mautz, Inc. Magazine, 1/16/18.

“Harvard researchers say we’ve got it all wrong on giving negative feedback to peers. It’s useless if you don’t do this too.”

Giving negative feedback to peers can be as stressful and confounding as figuring out how to give feedback to your boss or how to give feedback to a difficult employee.

And now new research from Harvard says you might be wasting your time in doing so anyway.

The Harvard study indicates that giving or receiving peer-to-peer negative feedback rarely leads to improvement. In the study, coworkers that received negative feedback simply chose to avoid the corrective co-workers and sought to be around and strike up new relationships with more self-affirming co-workers. This is a process the researchers call “shopping for confirmation” (which sounds like the album title of a reunited boy-band).

As the study noted:

“There’s an assumption that what motivates people to improve is the realization that they’re not as good as they think they are. But in fact, it just makes them go find people who will not shine that light on them. It may not be having the intended effect at all.”

So this is terrific news for all of us that don’t exactly love doling out criticism, right? We’re off the hook because what’s the point, right?

Nope. There’s a catch.

Peer to peer negative feedback can work–when the recipient truly feels valued by the giver.

Again as the researchers noted:

“We put employees in a position to deal with dueling motivations: I need to feel I’m valuable, and I need to improve. And we don’t do a good job reconciling them with our feedback mechanisms.”

… Here are simple things you can start doing today:

1. Compliment them on who they are, what they do, or how they do it.

And be specific within this specificity. Being precise implies you care enough to notice and to take the time/brain power to thoughtfully articulate your appreciation…

2. Invest in their career.

Imagine how it would feel if all your co-workers felt truly invested in you and wanted to help you succeed in your career. Now give that energy to a co-worker.

Take the time to share balanced, thoughtful feedback (remember, corrective feedback will be more likely to work because you’re showing you value them by executing this very list). Find out what’s important for advancement in their career and gear your feedback towards that. And tell their boss when they’re over-delivering on a criteria/attribute important for their function.

3. Make them look good.

Give them credit (genuinely deserved) in public whenever you can–if they’re cool with that. It speaks to your genuine interest in seeing them succeed, as will your tougher feedback when the time comes.

4. Seek out their advice, listen, and act on it.

Some of the most satisfying moments in my career weren’t always when my boss agreed and took action on something I suggested, but when a peer did. It’s about relationships, not reporting lines.

Read more at …
https://www.inc.com/scott-mautz/surprising-harvard-research-says-giving-negative-feedback-to-peers-wont-work-unless-you-do-1-simple-thing.html

COMMUNICATION & How to Give Negative Feedback in an Emotionally Intelligent Way

“How Emotionally Intelligent People Give Negative Feedback” by Melinda Zetlin, Inc. Magazine, 9/21/17.

…”Giving someone effective feedback is one of the most difficult things for people to do well,” says executive coach and bestselling author Wendy Capland. For the past couple of years, I’ve been working with Capland as my coach and writing aboutwhat I’ve learned in the process…

1. Don’t do it too soon, or too late.

How soon after a problem arises should you give feedback? That depends in part on your own mental state, Capland says. “Some people–this is me–if it’s really loaded emotionally, it’s better to sleep on it overnight. It’s also helpful for me to write out the dialogue ahead of time so my emotions stay at bay and I can be as effective as I want to be.”

…You should probably wait no later than that, though. “The longer you wait, the less effective it will be because they won’t remember it to the same degree. It won’t be fresh in their minds.”

2. Ask permission first.

“Start by asking for permission to give the feedback,” she advises. “‘Could I share an observation?’ ‘Could we talk about what just happened in the meeting?'” You should ask permission, she says, even before giving feedback to someone who reports to you. “Otherwise they’re not open to hearing.”

What if you ask to give feedback and the other person says no? “You shut up,” Capland advises. “The reason you give feedback is to create behavior change. That’s the only reason. You cannot coach someone who is not coachable.”

3. Share your understanding of the situation and ask for theirs.

As the person initiating feedback, you go first, Capland says. “My understanding was we would have something by October 1. It’s now October 15, so I’m wondering what happened. Was that your understanding?”

It’s important, she adds, to be careful to avoid blaming the other person throughout the conversation. “My rule is that if it’s possible to put ‘…you idot!’ at the end of a phrase or a sentence, then you’re blaming,” she says.

4. Say how their behavior made you feel.

It’s important to include both elements, Capland says, not only how you felt but also the specific behavior that made you feel that way. “‘I didn’t feel supported in the meeting when so-and-so said X. You kept quiet and I thought we were in agreement that you would back me up…'”

5. Explain what consequences it had.

It’s important to tell others that their actions (or inactions) had consequences and exactly what those consequences are. “‘When you submitted the proposal past the deadline, it caused the following cascade of effects,’ or ‘We lost the discount we had with that vendor,’ or ‘My boss reamed me out.'” The other person may not be aware what the ramifications are of their behavior.

6. Ask how things will be different next time.

You probably know exactly what the other person must do to correct the problem in the future. But resist the temptation to say so at least at first, Capland advises. “Start by saying, ‘I’d like to have this be different next time,'” she suggests. “Before I say what I’d like to see, I ask them first: ‘How can you make sure we don’t get in this situation again? What will you do differently next time?'”

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/how-emotionally-intelligent-people-give-negative-feedback.html

FEEDBACK & Don’t Criticize Your Boss? Here’s Why You Should #SimonSinek

By Abraham Rozenbaum and Jardley Jean-Louis, Inc Magazine, 9/11/17.

Author of Find Your Why, Simon Sinek says that you should help your boss the same way you would help a friend. Inc. Magazine,

https://cdnapisec.kaltura.com/p/1034971/sp/103497100/embedIframeJs/uiconf_id/36374171/partner_id/1034971?iframeembed=true&playerId=kaltura-video-player-VideoPlayer-347&entry_id=1_f9mexoos&flashvars%5BstreamerType%5D=auto

https://www.inc.com/video/simon-sinek/dont-criticize-your-boss-heres-why-you-should.html

 

 

MEETINGS & Why Those ‘Hallway Meetings’ (After the Big Meeting) Are Annoying Your Co-Workers

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I wish I had read this when I was leading faculty meetings. One of the things that frustrated me was how after the meeting was over faculty members would go into the hallway (or even remain in the room) and rehash many of the decisions that were made by consensus. After reading this article I realized I wasn’t encouraging dissenting views during the meeting and instead was pushing them into post meeting venues.

Why Those ‘Hallway Meetings’ (After the Big Meeting) Are Annoying Your Co-Workers by James Sudakow, Inc. Magazine, 7/12/17.

…After-the-fact informal meetings can and do often create a leadership and decision making culture where it is fully acceptable to self-sabotage decisions on which you already had alignment. This frequently creates the need to have another meeting to decide on something you already thought you had decided on.

The result is that passive aggressive approaches to conflict not only become allowed but actually become instrumental driving forces for how disagreement on hard decisions are managed. In other words, they make it OK for the real disagreement to not be voiced in the big decision making meeting but after the fact in the hallways, which undermines or starts to undo what you thought was already done…

What causes it?

To potentially oversimplify the complexity of our human behavior (which I’ve been known to do from time to time), it stems from the inability to have the hard conversation, disagree constructively, and create a leadership environment where dissenting points of view are both acceptable and encouraged…

How do you fix it?

Here are two things I have done personally as well as seen other leaders do that start to nip this bad tendency in the bud:

1. No decisions made until one dissenting point of view is raised…

Doing this forces people to raise issues that they may fear will be unpopular or viewed negatively, which curbs the need to say it later and undermine confidence in the decision the team made.

2. Set leadership team ground rules that there are no meetings after the meeting. Then get the team members to sign it like a contract.

Some call them operating norms. Others call them rules of engagement. Some just call them ground rules. Many leadership teams don’t come together to figure out what they are, but those that do have a way of self-regulating behaviors…

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/james-sudakow/why-you-need-to-stop-the-hallway-meetings-after-th.html

FEEDBACK & Research Confirms It Is Better to Get the Bad News First #PsychologyToday

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  I tell my students/clients not to avoid conflict (as many pastors do) but rather get the “bad news first”… and then the good news, because your mood will be most affected by the last thing you heard. Research confirms this as cited in this article in Psychology Today magazine.

Why Hearing Good News or Bad News First Really Matters

Whether we want to hear the positive or the negative first says a lot about us.