Using Feedback to build Relationship Power instead of pushing people away from you.

Do you know that the most effective thing you can do to increase results is talking about performance and give feedback on results? Yet most managers fear giving feedback.

•    They don’t want to cause conflict
•    They don’t want to be misunderstood
•    Don’t feel insecure in how to give it
•    They are afraid they will appear less powerful after giving it if no change happens
•    They hide in the sand, hoping things will improve
•    They’re giving feedback in a way that pushes the individual away for them, distancing themselves, avoiding contact or making results worse. Thus they stopped giving it.

Doing this wrongly will push people away from you instead of connecting to them.

I’ve done all of these mistakes this myself, many times.
My nature is to avoid conflict. My first instinct is often to hide my head in the sand. I have to force myself out of there because in my head.

Yet at the same time, most surveys show that most people long for feedback on their work. Deep down, we always want to know where we stand. Some of us want to push for more. All of us want to know if we're at risk or not.

That said – most of the people that ask you for feedback, don’t really mean what they say. What they really want you to say is praise them. We’re not really built for receiving critical feedback. Still at the heart of it, we do want to know where we stand in relation to our safety and performance.
So how do you give good feedback that effectively creates a change in behaviour?

How do you talk about performance in a way that deepens your relationship power with an individual instead of risking to push them away from you?

What you have right now - your life and your achievements are your own responsibilities. If you’re not getting what you want, then it’s your job to change what you say, how you say it and anything else required until you get that effective behaviour, and the sweet results they bring your after.

1. The first thing you need to own is why you’re giving this specific feedback. If it’s ANYTHING other than to create a more effective tomorrow then just walk away. DON’T give feedback at this time.

2. So honestly ask yourself. Is this about bettering tomorrow or is this about here and now? If its about here and now., then it’s mostly about YOU. Ask yourself, if this behaviour doesn’t happen tomorrow, do you still feel like you have to give it? If so, stop and take responsibility for your own feelings. Your frustration will not change the behaviour of others in a healthy way.

What do you need to do when giving feedback?

  • Describe the results and our observed behaviour, from your perspective.
  • Describe the consequence for you (check for more as to why)
  • If you’re getting some reasoning as to WHY it didn’t happen/happened- talk about making a positive future for both of you. DON’T allow yourself to remain in the past, which explanations are. Always go back talking about commitment in the future.
  • Ask them what they can do differently to get the results needed. DON’T allow yourself to decide HOW they do it, stay focused on the results and the behaviour.
  • Walk away instead of giving it if you are upset or angry.
    Don’t make feedback a lengthy debate about right or wrong.
    its all about future results. if you think its about the past you're not focusing on the effect you want, then you're most likely focusing on your own hurt or feelings, not results.

Stay positive and ask for a commitment on the behaviour or deadline. Make it about results and behaviour, not about character or persons. Try to describe the situation objectively to yourself before intervening to know. If notice you often have the tendency to prematurely intervene, you need to seriously think about your own pattern.

Asking Is More Powerful Than Telling.
Telling does NOT build relationship power but is an important part of a Manager’s job. That said, it’s my recommendation you use this as little as possible. Asking for commitment creates a lot more commitment than compliance ever does.

It’s totally OK to be frustrated, to be angry. Its not OK to push that energy on other people.
If you vent your frustration you will inevitably push people away. Don’t confuse the relaxed tension of gossip with creating a connection about the work that matters. No positive change ever comes about gossip. Change comes from action and keeping tension on the things you can change (the "right" thing), not releasing tension on things that wont matter.

Clear and pointy
"But Ric. I used to love that part of my boss who pointed with their whole hand in a clear way."
Yes, I understand that, it can feel relaxing in a certain way to know you can blame your manager if it goes bad, comply to the deadline and requirement. But Compliance often wastes potential. Right now, we need you to harness your potential. You can Ask AND be extremely clear at the same time.

Tension is good, tension is needed for change.
Ask how they can do things differently and wait “with” the tension. Don’t fill in the void for them. You’ve described objectively how things worked out for you based on what you saw in their behaviour.
Now, wait for them to commit to a better future with your silence. Refocusing the tension back on that positive future for both of you should they try to drag you back to the past.
Whenever they try to bring it back to how come it happened the way it happened, it’s most often to defuse tension. Show them It’s not about the past, they can’t change the past. Let them know the best way out of the tension is in that positive future behaviour.

Repetitive behaviour
One of the reasons we’re always asking for a commitment, and staying focused on the result and effective behaviour is because if your feedback doesn't cause a change, then the feedback is no longer about the specific “you’re often late to my meeting.” The feedback is now about the pattern of "you say you will commit and improve, but you’re not doing what you say you will do repetitively".

You become the company you keep
Own the pattern. If you’re the manager, your recruiting skills are responsible.
If it’s a friend, your choice of friends is responsible. If it’s a co-worker, your choice of manager is responsible. It’s a lot easier to change things we take ownership for, instead of wishing for a change in others.

Further reading
• to learn more about Non-violent communication. How to describe objectively in ways that can’t be disputed.
• – a Podcast (Relationship Power at work ) that helps managers build Relationship Power while also exploring your own and other peoples potential.