Tell It Like It Is

InTouch - Newsletter - #78

Welcome to the seventy-eighth edition of “In-Touch”. As always, I would love to continue the conversation so please let me know what you think.

Want to ask you a question, if I may, before we proceed with today's newsletter! What is the shortest English word that contains the letters abcdef?

Story of the Week: "Tell It Like It Is"

In her book Staying the Distance, Catherine Baker sheds light on the importance of receiving regular and consistent feedback* for growth and improvement. This critical aspect of good management is frequently overlooked in companies and organisations, where the majority of managers prefer not to provide feedback, worried that they might upset a colleague by saying anything that could be construed as negative. In Baker’s opinion, such managers are doing their people a great disservice. If you want them to improve and develop, she says, regular and consistent feedback is key.

The subtitle of her book is ‘The Lessons From Sport That Business Leaders Have Been Missing’, and Baker indeed shares many excellent stories in support of her philosophy. One such story is that of Crista Cullen, a distinguished member of Team Great Britain’s (GB) hockey squad and a seasoned veteran of four Olympic campaigns. Cullen recounts how, during the preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympics, the squad managers implemented a unique ‘traffic light’ system for feedback sessions.

As each hockey player entered the room, she saw a ‘traffic light’ signalling the likelihood of her making it onto the plane to take part in the Olympic Games (from a training squad of 31 players, only 19 would be going to Rio de Janeiro). Green meant ‘You're on the plane’, orange indicated ‘You are in contention’ while red conveyed the message 'At the moment it is not likely that you are doing enough to get you on that plane’. Of course, appropriate support and direction was given to those seeing orange and red to help them improve their chances of making the team.

The system certainly worked well – the GB team went on to win gold in Rio – and one reason was because it ensured that each member received the feedback she needed to reach peak performance. And while, in this example, it was used to help a sports team, the “lesson” is certainly one that business leaders in any sector should not be missing.

Employees at all levels need regular and consistent feedback, for three good reasons: (1) professional and personal development, (2) greater productivity and (3) for the creation of a healthy workplace.

Giving and receiving constructive information or advice – and it can be positive as well as negative – based on performance, behaviour or skills in the workplace is a sure-fire method for achieving all of the above. We all need someone to tell it like it is!

*The answer to the question in the subject line above 😉

Words of Wisdom

“True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes.”

Daniel Kahneman

A Question to Ponder, dear friend.

“How important has feedback been to you in your career?”