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Employee Surveys and The 360 Review: Great Unless You Really Don't Want to Be Transparent (or want Feedback)....

Two things are worse than not asking for feedback via an employee survey or a 360 degree review as a manager.  Those things are:

--Not attempting to do anything with the results.  You let it lie on a shelf and never ask questions, self-reflect, etc.

--Being high and mighty when you are going through the motions of interacting with people who might have additional feedback, context, etc. on the results.

If you're not going to reflect, don't ask for feedback.  And please, please - don't interact with your employees if you're going to act self-righteous if they try to participate, and you don't want to hear what they have to say.  Just don't meet, because you'll do much more harm to your reputation by being cranky when they try to participate than you would have by doing nothing.

Case in point - a thriving suburb in my city (Hoover, affluent suburb in South Birmingham), recently had a school board meeting where they were going through the results of a self assessment they did across all board members.  I'll let John Archibald, columnist at the Birmingham News, take it from there:

"The Hoover School Board is ... awesome!

Just ask the Hoover School Board. After a vigorous round of self examination, board members gave themselves top marks in all categories, from the way they handle board meetings to leadership and "community collaboration."
They assessed themselves, and found themselves ... super!

Every grade -- compiled in April, sent to the Alabama Association of School Boards and unveiled Tuesday night -- was an improvement over last year. Because the Hoover board is good at everything. According to the Hoover board.

It's not so cut and dried for those looking in. Those like Arnold Singer. Singer, of Hoover, sat in the second row Tuesday night when those grades were unveiled. He asked a question, and got an answer that says more about the Hoover board than any self survey ever could. "Excuse me," Singer said. "It's a little hard to hear back here. If you could project ..."

That was it, before Board Member Bill Veitch responded with a disdain now immortalized on YouTube (thanks to Hoover's Trisha Crain).

"We're talking to ourselves, really," Veitch said, somehow managing not to choke on his irony. "We're not speaking for you."

Which is just what you want to hear from your public officials."

Watch the video below of the proceedings.  Turn up the volume so you can hear the statement.  Watch the facial expressions of all involved.

Then think about what % of your managers are like Bill Veitch when it comes to letting your employees have a voice and give the gift of feedback.
 

Comments

Michelle

That is classic. So many managers have trouble receiving feedback from the people they serve. I'm not able to see to You Tube video here at work (don't get me started on companies that block all social media sites) so thanks for the overview - I'll have to watch it at home.

For those of you who are managers, please remember that the feedback you get from your team is a gift and you need to treat it that way. That doesn't mean you have to agree with it, but you do need to respect it and appreciate the fact that people are trying to help you be even more effective.

I always coach my leaders to accept feedback with grace and dignity so that they can learn from it and move forward. How can you do this? By:
- trying to control your defensiveness
- listening to understand
- suspending judgment
- summarizing and reflecting on the feedback
- asking questions to clarify
- asking for examples and stories that illustrate the feedback
- being approachable
- checking in with others to determine the reliability of the feedback
- taking the time to determine what to do with the feedback

As a manager, you have the unique ability to demonstrate to your team how to receive feedback and act on it. Please take advantage of this great opportunity.

John D Roberts

Maybe worse than the example in the video, which is at least frank, is pretending to be sincere and appearing to care, and then not acting on the feedback. People stop listening to people who aren't listening. It may be months before everyone notices that every assertion is tested before it's believed.

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Here's the money question from the crowd yesterday: "How do we use social media to drive retention?"

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