My Appearance On KING5 New Day Northwest

I was a guest on the KING5 New Day Northwest program on the topic of how to deal with difficult co-workers.

My 5 tips:

1) Consider first that you also might be perceived as “difficult”.

2) Don’t avoid the problem, deal with it (before running to the boss or HR to “solve the problem”).  Avoiding it leads to mounting frustration and resentment.  And going to the boss before trying to resolve it yourself makes you look bad.  Take the initiative to address the issue with your co-worker.

3) Identify what kind of relationship you want with your co-worker.  Identify your intention for the relationship and communicate this to the co-worker.

4) Identify and relay what your part is in the conflict.  “This is how I see I have contributed to our challenge…”

5) Identify and offer feedback to the co-worker about what behavior you have been experiencing from them that you deem is problematic.  De personalize it by describing their “behavior” not just saying they are “being rude” or “aren’t being a team player”.  Ask for what you want/need to make work life better.

 

Mastering the Art of Feedback

Closing the gap between goals and performance is a continual challenge for leaders. Mastering coaching skills can help close that gap. One of the most important skills to master is giving effective, and potentially difficult, feedback to others. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t born with natural talents in delivering challenging feedback, so some level of skill development is usually necessary.

Leaders with great coaching skills are adept at offering feedback that encourages learning, development and change — in good times and bad. They can deliver difficult information in a way that encourages behavior change. Feedback, as a core coaching skill, is delivering information and perspective to another person about an observable behavior.

How feedback is received, and whether it creates change, is all about how it is delivered. Many of us have a tendency to take challenging feedback personally. But most of us prefer feedback that is simple to understand, straightforward and presented in a non-accusatory style.

Here are some feedback delivery tips:

  • Consider timing. Feedback should be delivered as close to the observed behavior as possible. The year-end performance review is too late. Most people aren’t able to hear critical feedback (without getting defensive) when they are highly emotional or reactive. It’s much better to wait until people calm down and can hear it.
  • Prioritize critical behaviors. Too often, managers focus feedback on what bothers them in others versus identifying specific behaviors that drive performance. Or they give too much feedback at one time, which can overwhelm the person. The 80/20 rule applies — 80 percent of performance comes from about 20 percent of our behaviors. The best coaches identify critical behaviors, focus on key expectations and review specific behavioral changes that could significantly improve performance.
  • Be behaviorally specific. Encourage the employee to take responsibility by focusing on acts, not attitudes. State the information in a way that cannot be misunderstood. Effective feedback doesn’t leave the employee wondering what you meant. To be a great coach, you need to be a great observer. The best feedback is factual — what a video camera would have recorded. Just like playing the game tapes in preparation for the “big game,” managers use observable behaviors and patterns to help clarify the issues and identify behaviors that require change.
  • Identify change as a process versus an event. The most effective coaches provide ongoing feedback and encourage people to learn from their successes and failures. They set the expectation that feedback needs to be a two-way communication process; they are open to and encourage reciprocal feedback.
  • Identify impact. Great coaches illuminate “blind spots” so people see themselves as others see them. They provide feedback that identifies the consequence, feelings or impact of the behavior in question. It is not uncommon for individuals to be oblivious to the distress a simple comment or action can cause.
  • Define expectations. Feedback includes offering suggestions, direction or identifiable goals. What do you want the employee to do differently? An effective challenge can be to identify what you want more or less of: “I want more suggestions for solutions and fewer complaints during our meetings.”

Best-practice coaching and feedback requires different approaches for different situations.

Coaching the most talented people can be tricky. Providing feedback to high-performers often requires a different skill set and approach. By their very nature, high-performers are different — they get bored easily, and when in trouble may be difficult to challenge without negatively affecting motivation. High-performers tend to run at light speed while generating the kind of results that senior management loves — they require a specialized set of coaching skills to keep them challenged and on track.

Mastering feedback

Closing the gap between goals and performance is a continual challenge for leaders. Mastering coaching skills can help close that gap. One of the most important skills to master is giving effective, and potentially difficult, feedback to others. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t born with natural talents in delivering challenging feedback, so some level of skill development is usually necessary.

Leaders with great coaching skills are adept at offering feedback that encourages learning, development and change — in good times and bad. They can deliver difficult information in a way that encourages behavior change. Feedback, as a core coaching skill, is delivering information and perspective to another person about an observable behavior.

How feedback is received, and whether it creates change, is all about how it is delivered. Many of us have a tendency to take challenging feedback personally. But most of us prefer feedback that is simple to understand, straightforward and presented in a non-accusatory style.

Here are some feedback delivery tips:

  • Consider timing. Feedback should be delivered as close to the observed behavior as possible. The year-end performance review is too late. Most people aren’t able to hear critical feedback (without getting defensive) when they are highly emotional or reactive. It’s much better to wait until people calm down and can hear it.
  • Prioritize critical behaviors. Too often, managers focus feedback on what bothers them in others versus identifying specific behaviors that drive performance. Or they give too much feedback at one time, which can overwhelm the person. The 80/20 rule applies — 80 percent of performance comes from about 20 percent of our behaviors. The best coaches identify critical behaviors, focus on key expectations and review specific behavioral changes that could significantly improve performance.
  • Be behaviorally specific. Encourage the employee to take responsibility by focusing on acts, not attitudes. State the information in a way that cannot be misunderstood. Effective feedback doesn’t leave the employee wondering what you meant. To be a great coach, you need to be a great observer. The best feedback is factual — what a video camera would have recorded. Just like playing the game tapes in preparation for the “big game,” managers use observable behaviors and patterns to help clarify the issues and identify behaviors that require change.
  • Identify change as a process versus an event. The most effective coaches provide ongoing feedback and encourage people to learn from their successes and failures. They set the expectation that feedback needs to be a two-way communication process; they are open to and encourage reciprocal feedback.
  • Identify impact. Great coaches illuminate “blind spots” so people see themselves as others see them. They provide feedback that identifies the consequence, feelings or impact of the behavior in question. It is not uncommon for individuals to be oblivious to the distress a simple comment or action can cause.
  • Define expectations. Feedback includes offering suggestions, direction or identifiable goals. What do you want the employee to do differently? An effective challenge can be to identify what you want more or less of: “I want more suggestions for solutions and fewer complaints during our meetings.”

Best-practice coaching and feedback requires different approaches for different situations.

Coaching the most talented people can be tricky. Providing feedback to high-performers often requires a different skill set and approach. By their very nature, high-performers are different — they get bored easily, and when in trouble may be difficult to challenge without negatively affecting motivation. High-performers tend to run at light speed while generating the kind of results that senior management loves — they require a specialized set of coaching skills to keep them challenged and on track.

Performance Review Help

It’s that time of year again — time for the often-dreaded performance review.

Though we could easily debate the merits and imperfections in the review process of many companies, we will instead focus on how managers can better prepare to deliver an effective review.

Most managers want their people to come away from a review feeling acknowledged for what they do well, supported, engaged, motivated and clear about what is expected of them in terms of goals and future performance. Performance reviews are a critical and challenging task for any manager, and delivering them well requires considerable time and preparation.

When delivered well, performance reviews can drive improved business results for the organization and be powerful and motivating experiences for employees. Yet at the hand of the unskilled, those on the receiving end can feel like they’ve been run over by a truck. Poorly delivered reviews can result in demoralized, unmotivated or disgruntled employees — something most companies can ill afford.

In my coaching practice, clients often use me to help them prepare for a performance review (either as the one delivering the review or receiving it). Here are some typical complaints I hear from frustrated employees following their review (and how to avoid them):

“My review was totally subjective.” Stick with the facts; subjective comments lead to arguments.

“My boss couldn’t give me any examples.” Clarify the specific situation in which the behavior occurred to back up what you assert in the review.

“The feedback I got was vague.” Avoid generalizations or clichés, like, “You have common sense,” or “are a good leader.” Make clear the behavior you either want continued or changed.

“I was totally taken off guard.” Performance reviews shouldn’t be a surprise; managers should be providing ongoing and continuous performance feedback.

In my experience, most employees really do want to know how they are doing in their boss’s eyes, and want to understand how they can improve if they aren’t meeting expectations or what they need to demonstrate to be promoted. Unfortunately, many managers are simply unskilled and lack training in delivering this information.

Here are a few coaching tips to help you prepare for delivering a review:

  • Before conducting a review, get clear about your objectives. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to recognize and motivate a strong contributor? Retain a “star”? Put a poor performer on notice? Help a new or young employee map out her future with the company? Clarify the employee’s role and/or your expectations? Your objectives should drive how you deliver the review and your focus.
  • Take the time necessary to prepare well (employees can tell when you have), and identify examples to share with the employee to help him understand your feedback. Consider how you will deliver the kind of feedback that will motivate the employee for any desired behavior change.
  • Schedule smartly to avoid low energy, for you and the employee. Reviews in general can be draining experiences. Avoid scheduling them back to back (or last thing in the day when most people’s energy is low). Allow sufficient time for a meaningful, two-way conversation.
  • Consider the emotional component. Identify your own emotions around delivering the review. How you manage your own emotions during the review is important (particularly if you are highly anxious). Anticipate the emotions of the person you will be reviewing. How might you respond if you were hearing this?
  • Review last year’s goals. Remember, it’s an “annual” review, not a review of just the past few weeks.
  • Choose your words carefully when you are describing the employee. Use language that specifies behaviors or observable actions vs. generalizations and/or inferences such as “not professional.” Define what you mean.
  • Look ahead to goal setting for the coming year, whether or not your company’s review process encourages this.
  • For loaded situations, get help (either a professional coach or your HR professional). Even the most capable manager can benefit from expert help in delivering bad news and preparing for anticipated rebuttals or resistance. Having an outside perspective or someone to role play with you can help you better prepare for how the employee may respond or react.

I offer coaching help to leaders anywhere in the world preparing for reviews.  mmoriarty@pathtochange.com or 360 682 5807.

Better Performance Reviews

The annual management task of delivering performance reviews. More than 70 million Americans go through this annual ritual, yet dread both giving and receiving them.

“Dilbert” cartoonist Scott Adams claims that the annual performance review is “one of the most frightening and degrading experiences in every employee’s life.” The good news: It doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are some “dos”:

  1. Set the stage for a two-way conversation. Relieve tension and facilitate dialogue by communicating upfront your review process agenda. Let employees know they have input.
  2. Start by letting employees assess themselves. What are they most proud of, and what do they consider areas for development?
  3. Seize the opportunity to acknowledge what you like and appreciate about how the employee performs.
  4. Identify what success looks like for the coming year, given company objectives, etc. Create an employee development plan with specific goals and tasks.
  5. Focus on the employee. Be truly present. Listen and make a genuine attempt to understand concerns and any feedback (yes, you should ask).
  6. Talk about their strengths and challenge areas. Deliver the negative (avoid sugarcoating) but make sure the employee knows what he or she can do about it.

On the other side, don’t:

  1. Talk too much. Reviews should be interactive. Don’t let whatever “form” you use dictate your process; it’s not about the form. If you are doing all the talking, you’ve probably lost them. (You’ll know when their eyes glaze over!)
  2. Make it personal. Stick to behavior specifics.
  3. Offer challenging feedback using generalizations. Many clients tell me they are told during their reviews that they need to improve areas such as “communication.” Most people have no idea what this means. Identify how you and the employee will know if he or she meets your expectations for improvement.
  4. Make assumptions about how the employee is receiving the feedback. Emotionally charged situations often foster misunderstanding. Probe for understanding and reactions, including confirmation of critical elements of the review.
  5. Avoid the negatives. We all have room for improvement. Even the most talented individuals want to know how they can reach the next level. Refusing to identify issues, challenge for improvement or hold the individual accountable does not foster growth. When you avoid giving tough, direct feedback, you aren’t doing them (or you, or the business) any favors.
  6. Hammer on negatives. Don’t shred personal self-esteem by telling them every negative thing you’ve ever noticed. Reinforce that it is behaviors and actions you want changed, and that you have confidence in the person you are challenging.

As a professional coach, I am often brought into situations requiring review and expertise with “challenging” personnel and difficult workplace relationships. Most leaders who find themselves stuck in these situations want options and practical help with how to review and coach frequently outstanding individuals that will support positive behavioral change.

Here are just a few scenarios that may require special help:

  • Reviewing the individual with great technical skills but who lacks the interpersonal skills or emotional intelligence to do the job effectively. The first challenge is how to acknowledge the value of the employee’s contribution while increasing his or her self-awareness of emotional and interpersonal patterns and their impact. The next challenge is coaching and/or training the employee to develop new behaviors.
  • Leaders from organizations in the midst of major “cultural” change often struggle with how to set and manage expectations around the change. The challenge here is developing expected performance standards with a highly defined process for regular feedback and measurement.

An organization’s most valuable resource is its people. The best leaders understand that personnel require both acknowledgment and challenge — and that skillfully developed and delivered performance reviews can be a highly effective management tool in today’s workplace.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your career coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities.  I coach professionals all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com