Updated: Mar 31, 2020
In collaboration with TXP - Tillväxtpartner
By: Claes Knutson
Challenger guide and Founder of TXP – Tillväxtpartner
TXP works with companies that are looking to change the world - companies that don’t settle for “it is as it is”, but strive to stand out and move in front of the competition.
With the tempo required at the workspace today, traditional career conversations have played out their role. Now, it’s time for instant feedback, claims Claes Knutson, author of the books “Challengers! Welcome to the world of Game Changers and Change Makers” and “It’s all about the attitude!”
In today’s hard-pressed market, organisations are becoming increasingly fast-moving, and with it comes an expectation on the co-workers to take their own initiatives and take part in pushing the development of the company forward. “Simply put, we all need to move faster, react faster, and be more pro-active” says Claes. “A tool to achieve this is the practice of instant feedback, which is precisely what it sounds like - immediate, clear, and concise feedback.”
To do things right or do the right things - Giving feedback on results
Feedback is often given in relation to the company’s results, and in order for this to have the desired effect, the co-workers need to have clearly set goals and receive frequent feedback on how they are performing in relation to these. A brilliant example of instant feedback is a successful business in the retail industry that starts off each day with a meeting during which yesterdays’ sales are examined and discussed. What happened yesterday affects what needs to be done today.
Poor, and unfortunately more common, examples are the multitude of companies that inform their staff about their results once a year, or once every quarter at best. With such scarce information, it is very difficult for workers to adjust their performance, or see how it relates to the bigger picture. It is also common for the results report to reflect the results of last year, which makes it impossible for the organisation to make use of any co-worker initiatives to increase and strengthen their results.
Wrong mindset or the right attitude - feedback on specific behaviors
When it comes to giving feedback on specific behaviors that co-workers might exhibit, most managers will wait for the traditional career conversations that take place once, or perhaps twice, each year. However, there is a problem with this: Feedback that has accumulated for so long is no longer particularly relevant. In fact, a week or a month is enough for the feedback to become irrelevant, and by the time the career conversation rolls around, the window to bring about change will have shrunken, if not completely disappeared.
Instead, both managers and co-workers need to be ready to have frequent dialogues about attitudes and behaviors, and how these affect the company’s over-all results - even though such conversations might not come naturally. But by acting immediately a manager will be able to catch the situation at hand, and it will become much clearer for the co-worker to tie any given feedback to the particular situation or event. It’s all about creating a culture of giving and taking while on the go, which will make feedback less dramatic and more constructive - thereby taking the edge of the actual feedback-giving. Feedback becomes a natural state of being in order to work better together, and the personal aspects of it blurs into oblivion.
If you manage to give positive feedback directly, and in a clear, concise way, it will increase the chances of you seeing more of the behaviors and practices that you’re giving feedback on. It’s really a rather simple equation - People who receive credit for their actions and behaviors tend to continue doing just that. It’s a simple concept, and yet it’s common in its rarity.
Another example of slow feedback that runs the risk of not being relevant are the traditional surveys. The idea behind them is good - to take care of the workers’ views on their workplace - But the structure and time-contingent of the survey becomes wrong. From the point in time in which the surveys are completed to the time the result has been compiled, a report has been sent off to management, the results have been followed up, and a decision reached about what actions to take, too much time has passed - Time which could have been spent on fixing the problems, or taking care of the positive feedback. And let’s be frank, how many of us can remember what we jotted down in a survey months and months ago? And if the steps to correct something comes too late, how relevant are they?
A third example of too slow feedback is about so called “difficult conversations”. There’s a multitude of courses aimed at managers in how to hold such conversations. The thing is, if you’ve reached a point where a “difficult conversation” is required, you have failed to give feedback in time. By employing the use of instant feedback, you will be able to minimize the number of difficult conversations. Alas, taking a course in having difficult conversations will definitely not increase your feedback giving, since the entire purpose of the course is to give feedback on matters that have gone on for far too long.
Outwards, we prefer to call it “empowering talks” as opposed to difficult conversations. Such paraphrasing is just rubbish according to me. Is a positive conversation not supposed to be empowering? We have to stop with all the drivel! What you get back is more time to spend on positive things that move you forward.
5 practical tips to be successful with instant feedback:
Discuss the purpose and shape of instant feedback with your team. How and when should the feedback be given? One-on-one or in a group? What will we gain as a group by being on the point and straight forward?
Introduce a forty-eight-hour-rule for all feedback, whether it be positive or negative. This enables a clear connection to the specific event that you want to see more of, change, or prevent.
Avoid sugar-coating criticism.
Be clear and concise - the recipient will experience it as a positive thing that they don’t have to guess what was being said.
Ask for a receipt - Make sure that the person you’re speaking to confirms what has been said. This can be achieved by asking the person to re-tell what you’ve just said. It’s actually not uncommon for people to focus completely on all the negative feedback, and completely miss out on the positive things. Lastly, another good thing about the receipt is that the role of responsibility becomes clear.
At TXP we call them Challengers, and we help boards, owners, managers and co-workers to find their passion and energy, and to channel it towards a clear, common goal”.