What Your Feedback To Others Says About You

Do you value giving feedback to your reports and other co-workers? Have you been told that feedback is an effective managerial tool that you should be using more? Do certain of your co-workers’ behaviors concern you, and you want to give them feedback? Here are typical stories from two managers, Joe and Diane:   Joe was frustrated about the performance of his direct report, Karen. Karen was expected to use a particular project planning tool with clients, but her habit in client meetings was to mechanistically walk through the tool instead of using it as a starting point for dialogue as Joe intended. Joe said, “I’ve really got to give […]

Make Yourself More Valuable at Work

Jobless claims fall to 5-year low, but hiring still sluggish – that’s today’s latest headline. Good news yes, but still troubling, because it’s mostly fewer layoffs not more jobs. Things may be improving but few believe that it’s a great time to be looking for work. So, what can you do to make sure you keep the job you have?  Here are some steps you can take right now to make yourself more valuable at work. 1. Make a “line of sight” connection between your job and a critical company result. One good example comes from an L&D department. This function used traditional measures like program attendance and participant reactions, […]

Giving feedback to your boss – is it career suicide?

Imagine that you have a boss who’s making your life difficult. Maybe he doesn’t listen to potentially important input when it conflicts with his interests. Or he berates people, which leads to them censoring themselves. Or he makes snap decisions. Or he micro-manages, and thus becomes a bottleneck for the entire group. Furthermore, you think his actions are having a harmful effect on your team and organization. What do you do?   The prevailing opinion is that saying anything to your boss about his style and impact would be, as they say, career-limiting. But is this always as true as you assume it to be?   Executives don’t get a […]

Ethics Training to Address Senior Military Officers’ Bad Behavior? Not so Fast!

The New York Times reports that Defense Secretary Panetta has ordered a review of ethics training, in light of recent scandals involving CIA Director Petraeus and others. Officers have been investigated or fired for behaviors including “sexual improprieties, sexual violence, malfeasance, or poor judgment.”   What’s wrong with the training solution? The leap to ethics training as a solution reflects a common organizational bias towards training as the solution to all problems. And, as with most situations where this bias exists, training isn’t likely to make much of a dent in the problem.  The training solution is predicted on invalid assumptions: –       that the officers don’t have a clear set […]

Does Praising Employees Create Problems?

Our workshop on collaborative performance management includes a discussion about reinforcement. This discussion is often contentious, largely because I question the value of praise. During these discussions, I find that people have been taught to see praise as universally good and useful, and I almost never find anyone who questions this belief. When I question it, people ask me “what’s the matter with praising people” and I list three concerns. 1 – Dependence. The first concern is that any judgment (praise or punishment) can create undue dependence on the judge. People have been conditioned from primary school to seek out the judgments of their authority figures, far more than they’ve […]

Stop Talking in Code – Start Improving Performance

Think about the last time you got an assignment that sounded something like this….  ”This project is a big opportunity, so I want you to be proactive and really own it.  I want you to think out of the box and come back with an innovative and strategic solution.” The speaker might believe that he’s being very clear about what’s expected but, when I hear something like this, I have no idea what the listener is supposed to do.  And, if you could cut through this code, you could dramatically improve your own and others’ performance – reducing confusion about expected results and actions, and improving how people discuss and […]

Implied Expectations

What are they and why are they dangerous for you and your organization? Often, I hear employees talk about “implied expectations.” This phrase typically comes up when a person doesn’t meet your expectations, and you are surprised and even disappointed. I hear many people say things like “I can’t believe he missed that, he must have known it was part of the job,” or “with his experience, I expected him to know what to do,” or “he has the title and pay, so he really should really know how to do the job.” Each of these comments suggests an implied, unspoken expectation. An implied expectation is the belief that, because […]