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Point of View

Feedback learnings

Empowerment is in your control

I’ve been asking my directors recently, “what’s the feedback or recognition you want most from me?” The two most common were validation about being on the right track and sharing more ways to improve.

At first, I thought I had been doing these things. Because conceptually, we were aligning with Axelerant’s purpose as relevant for their service area or department. However, on a second pass, I realize that people are genuinely interested in going one step further to make things better.

To get better in my feedback, I’ve done some research on giving it that left me with more questions than I started with. Because I learned that I already have a basic framework for providing feedback. However, I still wasn’t sure what kinds of responses would help my people the most.

So, I went back to them and asked for examples. And the responses have been humbling and supportive of changes in the works.

Validation

My people asked for more validation that they’re on the right track was the most humbling request they had of me. In many ways, I was treating them with a case of no news is good news. This means that I only spoke up when things were astray. Oops.

As a way forward, we’ve been placing our performance management checkpoints into 7Geese to prevent bouncing around systems and spreadsheets during conversations. In this case, for validation, by having department objectives per strategy documents such as a V2MOM.

V2MOM typically means some variation of vision, values, measures, objectives, and metrics. These days though, I prefer a more straightforward why like purpose, what of mission or objectives, and how by guidelines, metrics, or systems.

I hope that we’ll make a more significant effort to check that active priorities and activities align with these departmental objectives during one to one conversations. Thereby giving us a better validation basis for being on the right track.

Improvement Areas

I believe in giving people the chance to fail or succeed independently and then speaking up when failure happens. However, the people that I’m dealing with are capable, mature, and typically successful.

Therefore, letting them be without comment when they win hasn’t helped them become better professionals.

Just as we’re moving objectives into 7Geese, we’re putting our prioritized responsibilities there as well within a person’s Role and Growth section. Then, as we come together for 1-1s, we can reflect upon their recent actions for specific critiques or suggestions.

Things like being more precise about what could be done, what to avoid, suggesting alternative outcomes, and even different points of view to help directors get a bigger picture of what they’re involved with.

Public Recognition

Despite ensuring my people had public recognition monthly, they felt social pressure for it not being as frequent as other peers. Once again, my no news is good news mindset failed my people.

While I love giving people near-real-time recognition, I feel burdened doing so more than once; like in a private conversation, in a group, and for documenting it. My perception has been: I’ve told you once, that’s enough.

Yet, once isn’t enough. One-time might just be a platitude, not an ongoing affirmation of how much I respect and trust my people. Therefore, I have to overcome my one-time-only reluctance toward praising people and giving others greater awareness.

To let my people know they’re genuinely respected and trusted by me going forward, I’m granting myself a few extra minutes after meeting with each of them to review notes and share something with the organization.

Out of Ideas

I guess that curiosity and desire to learn from me means that I have been a good manager. Yet, I want to be a great leader. And so, challenging myself continues.

One of the best ways I’ve learned to improve myself to relate better with others is to keep on with my self-development. Which keeps my mind fresh with things to ponder and attempt.

While I love reading a plethora of fantasy and sci-fi, knowing how Bill Campbell helped Silicon Valley firms through coaching or understanding better career management through Reid Hoffman and others provide improved insights for connecting with my people meaningfully.

Giving Feedback

I found the following articles helpful in validating that my feedback framework was on track and gave me the courage to dig more in with people to understand their needs.

By Michael Cannon

Boundless Virgo water-rat, Drusus & Jace's remote dad, for @Axelerant's success, of conscious choices & simple living by kindness through curiosity & reflection

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