Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for July, 2011

Fine-tuning your questions will provide more meaningful feedback.

In today’s business environment, there are multiple strategies and surveys available to seek out formal feedback from employees, managers and/or colleagues about your performance. Yet your most significant and frequent opportunities to receive feedback may be in the midst of your day-to-day interactions, and your ability to ask for it informally.

Here are some examples of fine-tuned questions that are most likely to generate meaningful feedback.

If you’re looking for feedback about how you manage or lead others, you might ask:

– What one thing about the way I manage or lead do you find most motivating?
– If you were to recommend that I change just one thing about the way I manage you personally (or provide leadership to the organization), what would it be, and how might you suggest I do it differently?

If you’re looking for feedback from your manager, you might ask:

– If I had to choose just one skill to sharpen that’s important to my doing a great job, what would it be, and how might you recommend I go about getting better at it?
– If you were to offer me one attribute that I have that you feel most significantly contributed to our team’s success this year, what would it be?

Here’s an important tip. If you ask for feedback, and the person seems uncomfortable or stumped for the moment, offer them the day to think about it, and let them know you’ll appreciate touching base later or the next day to get their answer. Then be sure to follow through within the timeframe you both agreed to.

—So the next time you consider informally asking your employees, managers, or colleagues how you’re doing on the job, consider fine-tuning your question to generate an answer you can work with.

Want to earn and build trust? Keep it simple.

There are many ways to earn and build trust. One of the simplest ways to earn your employees’ trust, is to deliver on what you promise. Not always easy if what you’re promising more than you can manage, or worse, if you’re promising something you may have little or no control over. Both may be well-intentioned, however either can chip away at your employees’ ability to trust your word.

You may believe that in order to build trust, you need to promise and deliver something highly impressive or noteworthy. When in reality, it’s most important to guarantee and deliver during daily interactions and communications.

A few examples of trust-building promises that you have total control over:
– I’m going to get you all out of this meeting on time.
– I’ll get back to you with an answer by mid-day tomorrow.
– The minute I have approval to communicate the direction we’re taking, I’ll call a meeting and keep you all informed.
– When you return from your leadership development training, let’s sit down and debrief what you found most valuable about it.

You may think these ideas are elementary. Yet each gives you every opportunity to personally follow through and demonstrate your trustworthiness.

So keep it simple. Build trust with day-to-day reliability and dependability.