How to Give Feedback
I felt the room get a little quiet when this slide came on. How to give feedback. Everyone is just like, uh-oh, I hate this word. I'm really scared to give feedback or I suck at giving feedback, or one time I got bad feedback and so I hate feedback forever, but the truth is feedback is just an eight-letter word for having a conversation with another human being. Okay, it's just having a conversation with another human being, that's all it is. If we could strike the word feedback from the dictionary and no one ever used it again, life might be better. If instead what we said is, hey, I think you need to speak with Nicole one-on-one. It's like, oh, cool! I actually talk to a lot of human beings. If you're asking me to go talk to Nicole, that's cool 'cause I talk to human beings all the time. (students giggling) Right? Doesn't it get a lot, it's just so much more harmless and it's less intimidating. It's like, okay, cool, talk to another human being, I can do that. I don't need training, ...
I've done this my whole life. Now, what I'm gonna tell you though about feedback is if you can have a great feedback game as a boss, life will be easy. 80% of your problems just go away immediately. If you can be good at giving feedback, 80% of your problems just go away. Now, if you don't have a good feedback game, if you can't give feedback, the rest of your life is going to suck. That might be an overstatement, I guess, if you went and lived int he desert and didn't have to talk to anyone else, you wouldn't have to worry about it, but actually if you can't figure out how to give feedback, you will suck at your job of being a boss. It's stark, but it's true. Soak it in and think about it. Don't be scared of it, don't be intimidated by it, but understand it's really important to be able to talk to other people. How you handle these moments where you need to give feedback to someone is the difference between them being motivated, excited, learning, and heading on their career or losing motivation, losing confidence, being managed out, and things are horrible. Those are kind of the only two options. There's not like a middle ground where it's like, I don't know how that went and I'm just gonna like sit in the quagmire. You're either helping someone move on with their life or you're ruining their life. Heavy weighs the crown, right? Let's get this stuff right. All right, drink coffee. That is not coffee. In fact, that is rose wine with ice cubes, 'cause I like to water it down, but the point about this slide is spend time with the people on your team. You've gotta start from the beginning and get to know your employees. People get caught up, when I start talking about feedback, people get caught up on what words do I use? Remember earlier when I talked about triangulating feedback and trying to hit a bank shot and you're like, I want them to show up to work earlier or show up to work on time, but I'm gonna talk about the importance of time management and a story about sports. It's like, no, that's not the way to go. Just say, hey, if you wanna work here, you gotta show up on time. That's a lot easier, right? This isn't about triangulation. This isn't about code words. This isn't about corporate speak or being like, I'm not good at feedback because I don't know how to do it. I don't know all the keywords. That's not what this is about. Feedback is about how well do you know the person sitting across from you? It's not about what you say in that meeting. It rarely, if ever, is about what words are exchanged in that meeting. It's actually about everything that came before. Not only what relationship you have, but what relationship does that person have to their parents? How did their parents give them feedback? How did their parents criticize them? When their parents said, why didn't you score that goal, how did it make them feel? Because every single one of those moments, when they were on the school playground and they got left out of the group or they threw the ball out of bounds and everyone yelled at them, whatever happened on that schoolyard in third grade actually matters when you're sitting at the table with this other human being. Now, I mean, I don't know that anyone's ever actually acknowledged that, but everything that happened before is informing this conversation. You've gotta do everything you can before the feedback moment to get to know as much information as possible about this person across from you. Okay, and the way to start doing that is grab 'em and go to coffee. Grab 'em and go to lunch. Get out of the work setting and find a way to get to know what makes this person tick. What are they scared of? What is their surrounding? Did they play sports? What motivates them? How do they react to different things? All of that is more important than the words that you use in the feedback meeting. I've had meetings in my career where I have said, hey, good job, and the person has started crying. I was like, what is going on? All I said was you're doing a really good job, but it wasn't about the words I said. It was about the way I setup the meeting or the dynamics between the two of us that reminded them about some other exchange they've had in their life. It's rarely, if ever, about what you say in that moment. It's about everything around it. Take the time to get to know people. My only pro tip on this is how up-to-date is your information? 'Cause one of the things that happens in the workplace is you get a coffee with someone one time and you think you know them, and then you spend the next six months going, hey, how's your photography? Hey, how's your photography? Hey, how's the photography and they're sitting there going, I told this guy one time that I took some photos this weekend, and now all he does is say photography to me. I don't know that you've moved on and changed hobbies. I don't know that you just said that, but you don't actually like it. How up-to-date is your information? Keep mining for more information. The more time you spend with the person, the more success you will have in the work operations. All these things feed on each other. If I wanna make sure when you're sitting across from that person, it's not a senior producer who's not doing their job. It's actually a human being, remember what I said earlier? That's actually someone's brother. That's actually a dad. You know what, what's going on at home? I don't know if they have someone that's sick in their family. I don't know if something just happened to their parents. I don't know if they just got disappointing news and the book they wrote got rejected by a publisher. I have no idea, so if I'm out of the loop, I don't know how to calibrate and show up for my team in the right way. Get to know your people and this is a shortcut which is drinking coffee or whatever it is you want, find a way to get to know them. We're talking about feedback. The next thing, one of the most common mistakes people make when they're giving feedback is you try and give people a bunch of things. It's like, all right, so excited to spend time with you. Let's sit down. We're gonna talk about four things. The minute you say four things, you've lost them, because the minute you tell me I have to fix four things, I'm like, whoa, oh, so nothing's good enough for you? Oh, four things, you're probably trying to fire me. Oh, four things, I mean, what hope do I have? It's too much to take in. By the way, even if I have a good attitude about it, I cannot fix four things at once. It's too much, so your job as a boss is you can only pick one thing. Now, I know you're disappointed to hear this and you're sitting there going, I've got an employee. They do everything wrong, I can't just pick one thing. The truth is you have to pick one thing and it takes a little bit of extra work. Yeah, you gotta decide, which is the most important thing to fix? You gotta go after that and you sit down with somebody and you go, hey, there's something I wanna work on together with you, and do that one thing. Don't hint and be like, there's one thing I wanna work on and then later we'll get to the other seven, but let's do one at a time. (students giggling) Right? That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is hey, I wanna fix one thing with you. We're in it together, let's do it. Okay, cool, cool, okay. One thing? I can do that. I can do that. I can walk and chew gum, okay, I can do that. I can't walk and chew gum, and juggle, and vacuum clean, no, I can't do that, but I can walk and chew gum. One thing, I'm in it with you, I'm connected, I'll listen to you, let's go. Pick one thing. Don't get frustrated. Pick one thing, fix it in a month. Don't you wanna wake up in one month, in 30 days, and be like that's fixed. That's the way forward, otherwise, hey, let's fix three things. I promise you, in three months, you're gonna be like, (sighing) I haven't seen the improvement in those three things versus let's do one a month and I'll wake up in three months and be like, cool! We're awesome, we're doing great work, we love working with each other. Okay, so one thing at a time. Now, the last thing I'd like to talk about in feedback is act fast. This is really important, most people don't realize this. Positive feedback expires. Positive feedback has an expiration date. Positive feedback is not worth as much after 5:00 p.m. Let me give you an example. If you give a presentation on Tuesday and I walk up to you on Thursday and say, hey, great presentation! You're gonna look at me and be like, what? What are you talking about? I've done five presentations, like what's going, I'm like, oh, that one on Tuesday. You know, you did a good job. You're like, okay, cool, thanks, but it didn't mean anything, right? Let's think about what you went through on Tuesday to get ready for that presentation. You put all this energy into it, you got yourself geared up, there's adrenaline running through your body when you walk into that meeting, you're giving that presentation. You're literally like an animal, you're preparing for battle, you've got adrenaline running through you, you give the presentation. You're nervous, is the boss gonna sign off on this? Is my mortal enemy over there gonna say something? They always say something, I'm on guard. I wonder how this is gonna go if I don't get approval, I have to start over. I've got so much emotion running through me. I mean, I've got chills I've got so many emotions. I do the presentation, I think it went okay, the meeting ends, and I walk out of the room and what's happening? I'm kind of like shaking, right? I've got all this emotion, all this adrenaline and what do I do? Did that go well? I have no idea, I think it went well, and I walk out of the office and I've got all of this emotion, all of this energy, and what am I gonna do with it? I've got a couple options, right? I could go to a bar and try and dispel it in a bar. I could go meet up with friends and talk about work with my friends. Nobody likes to hear you talk about work, but I've got all this energy. I've gotta get it out, I'm nervous. I spent all this time, I've got all this adrenaline, I gotta get it out, right? You can go to the gym, that's actually a good way to do it, or you can be like me, you can go home, take all that adrenaline, you ball it up, you kind of put it in a jar, and you put it in the cupboard, and you kinda carry it around with you on your shoulder and it's just like a knot in your shoulder. You're just like, ugh, okay, I'm gonna go back to work tomorrow and try and do it again. That's what actually happens on a project, right? What happened? I couldn't get rid of that because not a single person said something nice to me. Why couldn't one person be like, hey, good job on your presentation today. I thought that went well, 'cause if you said that and met me in that moment or I met you in that moment, you just let it go. You're like, (sighing) oh, oh, my gosh, thank you! Thank you! You have no idea. I had all this adrenaline, I didn't want to carry it home, thank you. All I wanted was a knowing look or a kind word and think about why you don't say that kind word. You sit there at the desk and you go, I think she did pretty well in that presentation. I should tell her that, but she's sitting all the way over there. I don't wanna get up, so you don't say the compliment. Well, the meeting ends and we're walking out and I see her talking to someone else, and I'm like, I should tell her that she did a good job on that presentation, but she's talking to someone else and I wouldn't want to interrupt that. I'm just gonna walk right by you and not say anything, or maybe I get to my desk and I sit down, I go, I should tell her that she did a good job on that presentation, but what an I gonna say? All I'm gonna say is you did a good job on that presentation and I don't wanna fill up here email inbox. That would be annoying, so I don't send the email and I walk out of my day. Meanwhile, remember what you're doing, you're sitting there with this ball of energy being like, why is no one looking at me? What do I do with all this? Think about how lame those excuses sound. You literally are not giving a compliment to someone else, you're not meeting them in their moment of need because you don't wanna walk five feet and say good job? That's lame. You don't wanna interrupt a conversation, I don't know anyone who's been interrupted in a conversation who like, hey, I just wanted to tell you, you did a great job today, and the person's like, whoa, can't you see I'm in a conversation? (students laughing) That was terrible. Why are you interrupting me with a compliment? Oh, my gosh. You know, the email one drives me crazy. People are like, I don't wanna fill up their inbox. I don't know anyone who's received an email that said good job that's like, (yelling) stop filling up my inbox! Stop sending me compliments, oh, I can't stand this. (laughing) Right? We're laughing, but the truth is those things all go through our head. If there is nothing else we took from this whole class, I think we could change the world if we actually said the nice things we wanna say and meet that person. This is a human being, this is a human being who tried really hard at something. Why can't we meet them in that moment and say a kind word? If you think about it, there's hundreds of compliments left scattered on the floor at the end of every day. That's such a shame. Every single one of those was a confidence boost to someone around you. By the way, if you give out compliments, other people are gonna give 'em to you and we all know there's moments when we need that. If you do nothing else before 5:00 p.m. today, I want you to look at your watch and be like, I only have three minutes. I've gotta run around and get all these positive compliments out. Run up to their desk, say something, send emails. I don't care what it is. I would want to see a floor, everyone running around would be like, (yelling) I only have four minutes! Oh, my gosh, Joanie, great job this morning! Okay, cool, okay, Jim, great job. You did great! You made me feel awesome in that meeting. I know you worked hard on it, it's great. Think about how that just changed everyone's perspective. Now, they go home and they're like, hey, I'm in a great mood. Even if it's my, if it's your bosses times 10, if it's your coworker, it's worth the same, right? Now you walk home, now you're nice to your friends, now you feel good about yourself, you come back renewed. You can change someone's life. Don't let the positive feedback expire, all right?