Leaders Never Stop Being Specific and Asking for What They Want

This is one of the best articles I’ve read on this topic. You can tell it was written by someone with an advanced degree—there is some complexity in the language—but it is all in pursuit of precision, so I can get behind that.

Something new I learned from this article:

It works to pay managers more if they give better feedback.

Something I need to push more which this article affirmed is despite the fact leadership training and role-playing to improve feedback works, it’s necessary to remind managers about specificity and directness before they give feedback. Easy to prescribe, difficult to do. I know leaders who use Post-It notes to remind themselves in the absence of a present coach.

A few practical reminders for those who want to make it easier to give more specific, difficult feedback:

Practice first. Out loud.

  • First, in the car.
  • Then, in the shower.
  • Next, in the mirror.
  • Finally, on your top performers.

These steps make giving feedback easier with more difficult or defensive folks who make you nervous.

Have a history of lots of specific positive feedback and encouragement.

Offer a brief acknowledgement of how hard it is, e.g. “This is going to be tough to hear, and it may catch you off guard.”

Apologize for not giving it sooner, e.g. “I have not been persistent in asking for timely delivery, and that’s sent you a mixed message, and I apologize for that…”

Build a relationship strong enough that tough feedback is okay and natural.

What thoughts do you have?

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