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Hey Leaders! Let’s walk through a scenario where feedback is given to a staff member by their manager.

Today did not go my way.  My boss called me in her office for “a talk”.  I knew it was coming because things just seemed weird. Over the past few days I’ve seen people whispering in their offices. I felt like they knew something I didn’t. Everyone seemed nice to my face but what if that was fake and they really didn’t like me at all. I was kind of scared I was going to get fired even though I hadn’t gotten in trouble before. In fact, the last real feedback I got was 10 months ago at my performance review. I got a raise and high marks in most every category.  

As I sat in my boss’s office on the other side of her huge desk, I felt a barrier between us.  She asked how I was doing and I rather quietly said, “OK”. With the “small talk’ out of the way, she told me that over the past 90 days she had been getting complaints from other employees about how difficult I was to work with.  She said she didn’t feel comfortable sharing who said what but that I would need to get along better with others if I wanted to keep working here. I wondered exactly what she meant by getting along better with others and why, if this was such a big problem, had no one had specifically talked to me about this issue until now. Was I really on the verge of getting fired, I thought?  How did this happen? 

I no longer knew who I could trust. I felt like I was going to have to walk on eggshells with my co-workers. I didn’t express how I felt in the meeting because I didn’t want to be “difficult”. Frankly, my manager never even asked how I felt. She seemed uncomfortable. It was like she wanted to hurry up and get the meeting over with.  She wrapped up by saying, “Just be a team player and defer to those who have been around a while.”  “Let me know if you have any problems.”

I left my boss’s office, went back to my office and started looking for another job.  

Lessons and Takeaways for Managers

Timely Feedback

  • Employee feedback every 10-12 months is unacceptable. Employees need to hear from their manager every week.  They need to know if their performance is on track and what they can do to continually develop and grow.
  • When providing feedback, managers should share their own opinions beyond what they hear from their employees.
  • Great managers coach their team members every day. It’s the manager’s job to create strengths-based culture and cultivate the best in every team member.
  • 1-2 follow-up coaching sessions should be held within 30-90 days to monitor employee progress and work toward a successful outcome.

Actionable Feedback

  • Helpful feedback is specific feedback with an actionable and measurable “go forward” plan.
  • Consider the employees talents and strengths when giving them guidance on performance. Help them refine what isn’t working.

Empower Staff

  • Managers should request team members first attempt to resolve problems and conflict with each other before going to the manager.
  • Managers should invite feedback from the employee as a part of any coaching session to ensure a 2-way dialogue. Ask the employee how you, as the manager, can best support their success.
  • Develop your managers into coaches who can confidently give regular feedback that increases employee engagement and productivity.

Artificial Harmony – Ever heard of it?

  • Artificial Harmony: “making nice” – when we act like we are getting along yet there are resentments, frustration, and grudges being held against teammates and family members. The ego wants to maintain a false sense of peace.
  • Artificial harmony restricts progress and encourages passive-aggressive behavior.
  • Managers must create an environment where team members can safely say the unsaid and professionally confront conflict or differing opinions.

Remove Obstacles – Literally!

  • Coaching and feedback is best given face to face with no table in between.
  • The manager is responsible for encouraging an environment of open communication.





Sara Harvey

Founder & President, innertelligence

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