Blog (filtered)

Being a leader takes practice. We’re excited to share our latest experiments and lessons learned.

Mark F. Dunn
Friday, May 12, 2017

During his TEDx Wilmington talk, Robert Staub delivered his learned benefits of exhibiting “Daily Acts of Courage.”  During the talk he shared that courage “develops the cardiovascular system of the soul,” mentioning that when we demonstrate courage, we give ourselves positive energy and expand our ability to do more.  As he shared the seven types of courage, I noticed that many of them referred to interpersonal behavior, which led me to think about the courage needed to manage relationships by effectively giving and receiving feedback.

During a recent discussion with a group of mentors, I had an exciting opportunity to discuss the importance of giving and receiving feedback as a foundation to building a culture of engagement and high performance.  Over my life and career, I have experienced many types of teams, some good and others not.  Each team has its’ own culture, and those that are positive all included opportunities for investment in both positive and constructive feedback. 

For many of us, delivering effective feedback is something that requires practice and repetition.  One must truly demonstrate courage and caring for the other person by entering that space with them to do this well.  To provide some structure the next time you need to deliver constructive feedback, here are some key steps to follow: 

5 Steps to Delivering Constructive Feedback:

Step 1: Show your intent is positive and identify a common goal

Step 2: Describe specifically what you observed and the impact of the behavior

Step 3: Ask the other person to respond (and listen with an open mind)

Step 4: Discuss possible solutions

 Step 5: Agree on next steps

During this discussion, one of the mentors asked, “What if the 1 on 1 conversation doesn’t work?  What if the person doesn’t respond?”  When this happens in my world, I gradually increase the intensity of my feedback until behavior change occurs. 

The Feedback Intensity Scale: (begin at #1 and progress as needed until behavior change occurs)

1. 1 on 1: You speak directly with the person

2. 2 on 1: After delivering the feedback privately, you bring a leader or someone of influence into the discussion.  Sometimes the individual may receive this better from another peer.

3. Team on 1: If negative behavior continues, bring focus to the team and develop team agreements on behavior that lead to success.  Often we spend too much time focusing on the 10% of a team that does not want to change versus the 90% that are committed to building a successful team environment.  Let the team’s behavior create an opportunity for change.

4. Organization on 1: The organization’s policy on behavior and performance will come into effect over time. The leader of the team will have a team that agrees to operate at a high level and will have many examples of behavior that is not aligned with both the team’s and organization’s values.

When I shared these concepts with the mentor group, they quickly moved into action, considering how they could help their protégés and teams develop.  Now that you have read this advice, consider the following:

1. How can you help your team move towards success by utilizing these feedback tools?

2.  What courage type do you need to develop to make #1 occur? 

3. Would you be willing to work with your team in creating an agreement to practice effective feedback?

4. What happens to your team if you do not demonstrate the courage to do this?  

Carolyn Cullen
Tuesday, February 28, 2017

You’ve likely heard about 360° assessments, but have you ever participated in one? This kind of assessment gathers feedback from your peers, managers, direct reports, and others who have seen you in action, typically at work (although you may also gather feedback from folks outside of UVA). At the same time your raters are taking the survey, you also complete the same assessment as the ratee. The resulting report gives you a 360° view of your strengths and development opportunities. Perhaps the most important thing to know about 360° surveys is that they are anonymous and confidential, which is vital. As the ratee, you won’t know who has completed the survey, with the exception of your direct manager (assuming you have only one). It’s important for the raters to know they can be truthful while also being helpful.

Once you receive your survey results, you can see if there is alignment between your view of your strengths and opportunities and those of your raters. If not, you can usually drill deeper in your final report to see if the misalignment is coming from one particular audience (i.e. your peers), so you know with whom to direct your efforts.

After you’ve had time to reflect on the results, it’s time to come up with a plan to focus on the areas of opportunity selected for you. But how do you convey that you’re doing that? It’s not like you’ll walk around with a sign saying, “I’m now more approachable” or “I’m now more open to others’ input.” Putting your 360° feedback into an action plan typically involves small tweaks rather than holistic changes. Think about it as turning a dial up or down one click instead of turning it from one to 100.  

Taking a 360° can be an important step on your leadership journey, though it does require you to be a bit vulnerable. But don’t you want to know if you’re being as effective and impactful as you intend? And if you find that you’re not, developing your action plan to improve likely means making some little changes that will have a big impact.