Six Things to Remember While Writing Feedback

Over the two decades in the many leadership roles, giving/writing feedback was one of the most arduous of all jobs — across dozens of roles, organizations, countries, and cultures. If you are a manager or a team leader — you are solely responsible for the feedback you are giving your team, both on content and method.

So, what is the secret of giving/ writing feedback?
Feedback giving/ writing is both an art and a science. It is an extremely critical component of team building and as much as it is for developing one’s own career. I have condensed the feedback process into six points that can work in any situation. Good feedback will help your team be high on energy and ideas, become awesome in execution and develop a great attitude.

The secret sauce, ironically, is not about the receiver of the feedback. It is about asking yourself (feedback giver) these six vital questions.

  1. Am I being specific?
    It is extremely critical to be as specific as you can be. It is easy to get carried away with analogies and incidents related to the point being discussed. Such meandering, however well-intentioned it may be, often leads to dilution of the message. It may even lead to a defensive mindset being triggered for the receiver. State facts and give examples in support of the feedback being given. Nothing more, nothing less.
  2. Am I showing the way to grow and develop this person?
    Your job as a reviewer is to develop and grow people. Pointing to shortcomings does not help in any case. In fact, it would work counter-productive as the receiver pulls up the defences and closes their mind to any suggestions.
  3. Can this person really do something about this?
    Think before if this person can do something about this or if you can help to change this behaviour? If the answer is no, that specific feedback is best left unsaid. Yes, think about it. What is the purpose of feedback on which the person cannot act?
  4. Will this add value to this person?
    Focus your feedback on its value for the receiver. If your feedback will not add value to the receiver in the current state, resist from even saying it. Often, it is for us to offer some advice because it is dear to us and (however well-intentioned) do not think of the value it would add to the other person.
  5. Does this represent facts?
    Write feedback promptly when the incident is fresh in your mind. Do not let other unrelated incidents influence your feedback. Good managers maintain a small notepad, to jot down incidents when they occur. This small notepad is worth terabytes of data that may be residing in our memory. Maintaining and referring that small notepad, will always bring us back to the facts at hand.
  6. Finally, let silence do the heavy lifting.
    Silence is an extremely powerful tool. Any good negotiator would tell you that people tend to underestimate the power of silence when it comes to sales and social dynamics in general. “Saying nothing is way more powerful than spoken words” they would vouch. Silence during feedback not only defines alpha roles but also build the readiness to assimilate, process and draw on an action plan in the receiver’s mind. You must recognise the five signs that indicate silence is needed
  • Interrupting by talking over someone else
  • Formulating your response while someone is talking
  • Using a break in the conversation to create a distraction to change topics
  • Talking in circles
  • Monopolizing airtime

With these six simple steps, you will see your self a lot more effective and sought after by your team and people Try it out!

This article first appeared on the Times of India Blogs on March 22, 2019.

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Rajesh Soundararajan is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Futureshift Consulting, a boutique consulting outfit that helps organizations chart their business, marketing and technology strategies that generate demand, drive predictable revenue and achieve impactful outcomes.

Aspire to be a CEO: Only bet on yourself!

When my nephew was seven years old, his favourite cricket team Deccan Chargers was clearly winning, with 12 runs needed off 36 balls and two wickets to spare. Convinced of the victory, he offered to bet his grandfather on the outcome of the game. His grandfather laughed and agreed. The stakes were $4.64, all they money that the seven year old had. In the next five minutes the bowler took two straight wickets and the boy lost.
The kid hated to lose and as he was giving away his life’s earnings his grandfather said, “Only bet on yourself. Don’t bet on events and people you can’t control to influence. Don’t bet on what you don’t know or understand.”
These golden words hold immense wisdom in business. History is galore with examples from sub-prime crisis to Wall Street crash to the dot-com burst. These events had downed hundreds of companies and rendered millions unemployed. They had one common characteristic. The executives of the failed firms had an appetite for risks. More importantly they were betting on risks beyond their control; on things they did not understand and on things that they did not believe in.
Was it then a surprise disaster was in the making.
The golden rule of any successful manager or entrepreneur – he would should bet only and only if he can influence and has control. Risk taking is not a great idea if you do not control the risk factors.

Aspire to be a CEO? Treat all people as special.

People are people.
They are more than people.They are mothers, fathers, friends, coaches, teachers, volunteers, photographers, charity workers and contributors. They can do a lot of things if they are appreciated and they can do it better if they are motivated and thanked.
Successful managers make people feel special. People who work with excellent mangers feel that they
are needed not used…
are contributors, not costs…
are workers not worked…
are instrumental, not instruments
are sold on what to do, not told…
are people, not personnel…
are measured, not monitored…
are asked, not questioned..
are well paid, not underpaid.
***

I remember reading a book many years ago- Whale Done! : The Power of Positive Relationships by Kenneth Blanchard, Thad Lacinak, Chuck Tompkins, and Jim Ballard
Ken Blanchard teamed up with co-authors from SeaWorld and wrote this parable styled book that opens up to the techniques used by killer whale trainers. What do people around you have in common with a killer whale?  Both whales and people perform at their best when you accentuate the positive. It is important, therefore, to always redirect negativity to increase productivity both at work and at home….. read the book

Make Your Life a Masterpiece

This is the age of achievement. You have all the tools required to succeed in life. To create a masterpiece, that other can look up to.  It is for you to use these tools and make the most of what you have and achieve your true potential.
This is an article by Brian Tracy.
The Seven Ingredients of Success
Peace of Mind
The first of these seven ingredients of success, and easily the most important, is peace of mind. It is the highest human good. Without it, nothing else has much value. In corporations, peace of mind can be measured in terms of the amount of harmony that exists among coworkers. The wonderful truth about peace of mind is that it is your normal natural condition. It is the basic precondition for enjoying everything else.

Health and Energy
The second ingredient of success is health and energy. Just as peace of mind is your normal and natural mental state, health and energy is your normal and natural physical state. If you achieve all kinds of things in the material world, but lose your health then you will get little or no pleasure from your other accomplishments. So imagine yourself enjoying perfect health, and think of how you would be if you were your ideal image of physical fitness. Then strive for your mental goal of fitness and health. 
Loving Relationships
The third ingredient of success is loving relationships. These are relationships with the people you love and care about, and the people who love and care about you. They are the real measure of how well you are doing as a human being. At almost any time, you can measure how well you are doing in your relationship by one simple test: laughter. This is true for companies as well. High-performance, high profit organizations are those in which people laugh and joke together. Examine your relationships, one by one, and develop a plan to make each of them enjoyable and satisfying.

Financial Freedom
The fourth ingredient of success is financial freedom. Achieving your financial freedom is one of the most important goals and responsibilities of your life. A feeling of freedom is essential to the achievement of any other important goal, and you cannot be free until and unless you have enough money so that you are no longer preoccupied with it. When you decide exactly what you want your financial picture to look like, you will be able to use this system to achieve your goals faster than you might have imagined possible.

Worthy Goals and Ideals
The fifth ingredient of success is worthy goals and ideals. To be truly happy, you need a clear sense of direction. You need to feel that your life stands for something, that you are somehow making a valuable contribution to your world.

Self Knowledge and Self-Awareness
The sixth ingredient of success is self-knowledge and self-awareness. To perform at your best you need to know who you are and why you think and feel the way you do. It is only when you understand and accept yourself that you can begin moving forward in other areas of your life.

Personal Fulfillment
The seventh ingredient of success is personal fulfillment. This is the feeling that you are becoming everything that you are capable of becoming. It is the sure knowledge that you are moving toward the realization of your full potential as a human being.

Mission Statement

You must have a mission statement in life. Everyone must have one. Imagine a company, an organization or an institution without one.
This is simply a set of guiding principles which clearly state where you are going and where you want to be at the end of your life.

A mission statement embodies your values. It is your personal lighthouse keeping you steadily on the course of your dreams. Over a period of one month, set a few hours aside to write down five or ten principles which will govern your life and which will keep you focused at all times.

Examples might be to consistently serve others, to be a considerate citizen, to become highly wealthy or to serve as a powerful leader. Whatever the mission statement of your life, refine it and review it regularly. Then when something adverse happens or someone tries to pull you off course, you quickly and precisely return to your chosen path with the full knowledge that you are moving in the direction that you have selected.
Related Suggested Reading: Goals by Brian Tracy (Link to Amazon.com)

Personal Example: Many years back in 1996, I attended a seminar where the speaker quoted this example.
[Paraphrased] Mission Statement is like a flight path. As most of you would realise the flight path looks like a smooth curve. In reality however, this is just a guiding line. A whopping 90% of the time the pilot is trying to get the plane aligned to the flight path -must be before the auto-pilot days- thanks to the tail winds, head winds, side winds. He constantly adjusts his direction subtly but surely to stick to the path.
Imagine pilot flying out a plane JFK – Heathrow without a plan. Your life is similar. You need a mission and a plan. You may not always get it, but you would be the first to know if you have missed it and make course corrections.