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Jelena Franco, June 22 2021

Think twice before saying “Good job!”

In my first job as a Key Account Manager in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods industry, I was trying to sell a couple of pallets of Carpaccio to my client in Riga. The client kept ignoring my calls and I was starting to feel very frustrated. I had only been on the job for about a month and was starting to feel that I would never succeed at this. I called my boss to let him know the bad news. He told me, “You are doing great! But, I am not good at doing coaching, so just keep pushing!” Encouraged, but still unsure about the direction I needed to go, I continued. What would you have done with so little feedback?

We all need some sort of feedback; the right feedback will allow us to move forward faster and also enable us to model this behavior for others around us. 

In my first job as a Key Account Manager in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods industry, I was trying to sell a couple of pallets of Carpaccio to my client in Riga. The client kept ignoring my calls and I was starting to feel very frustrated. I had only been on the job for about a month and was starting to feel that I would never succeed at this. I called my boss to let him know the bad news. He told me, “You are doing great! But, I am not good at doing coaching, so just keep pushing!” Encouraged, but still unsure about the direction I needed to go, I continued. What would you have done with so little feedback?

•   Appreciation: “Thank you, I know how hard you’ve been working.” Graham talks in depth about this in his “I see you” post here.

•    Coaching: there may be a better or different way to do it.  Help a person improve, whether it involves a skill, an idea, knowledge, a particular practice or that person’s appearance or personality. By the way, coaching comes in all sorts of shapes and forms – from active and interactive, to passive-aggressive as another driver tries to ‘make a point and teach you a lesson’ that you should get off your phone and stay in your lane.

•    Evaluation: here is where you stand – it can be comparative or absolute. “Your performance is really strong.”  It is an assessment, ranking, or rating.

Not all feedback requires all 3 elements, but it must be clear and appropriate to the person’s needs.  Determine what your direct reports need. If a person needs to be appreciated and receive coaching, they may not hear the coaching. If they are unsure of where they stand, they might need evaluative feedback before they can hear the coaching you offered or believe the appreciation. If what they really need is coaching, evaluation might be premature. And, if they really want coaching, appreciation probably won’t suffice.

Here is an example. You are offering your colleague some coaching, but they hear it as evaluation. And so, they may respond: “Am I right in understanding that you are saying I am falling behind?” Instead, start by saying, “You are doing alright. Now, here’s some tips that would make your performance even better...” 

Takeaways

1.   There are 3 elements to effective feedback: appreciation, coaching, evaluation, and each satisfies a specific human need:

          Evaluation lets your team members know where they stand while at the same time allowing you to                set expectations, and so make them feel reassured or secure.

          Coaching accelerates learning, and focuses your time and energy where it matters.

          Appreciation will help them understand and feel that all the sweat they put into their jobs is                              worthwhile.

2.   Hire life-long learners. These are the folks that see themselves as ever-evolving and ever-growing. They will learn and improve through hard work, failure and success; they will seek out and respond well to all three types of feedback. You can read more about this in one of my previous articles here.

Kind regards,

Jelena

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Jelena Franco

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