Executive Coaching: Different Strokes for Different People

Aug 30, 06

This Month

This issue marks the second anniversary of the Jigyasa
Newsletter – HR News and Views.

Thank you, dear readers, for continuing to support us.
This issue focuses on what it takes to provide effective
feedback, a key trait of all great leaders.
Please look out for our thank you gift and a way to celebrate
our anniversary issue, further down in the newsletter.
We in turn would be happy to receive your feedback on how
we can improve our newsletter and continue to make it
relevant to you.

Thank you once again for your warm support,
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The skill of giving Effective Feedback

Jack Welch in his book, “Winning” writes about ‘Candour’ being a key trait for winning.

“I always end of asking audiences for a show of hands to the question, ‘How many of you have received an honest, straight-between-the eyes feedback session in the last year, where you came out knowing exactly where have to do to improve and where you stand in the organization?’”

“On a good day, I get 20% of the hands up. Most of the time, it is closer to 10%.”

“Interestingly, when I turn the question around and ask the audience how often they’ve given an honest, candid appraisal to their people, the numbers don’t improve much.”

In Asia, we have an additional handicap. We often use our culture, Asian upbringing and values, respect for seniority, age as execuses that don’t allow us give frank feedback. Each culture has its own unique way to talk about this. ‘Saving face’ in chinese culture, a Hindi quotation that roughly translates as follows, “An indication is enough for an intelligent man.”

The challenge for HR within organizations’ especially in Asia is to build a culture that encourages candour while giving feedback.

Five steps to providing Effective Feedback

1. There is no room for ambiguity: How much of resources have been wasted simply because managers do not learn to pertinent and relevant feedback on performance. It is easier not to confront, to deal with questions, dissent or unhappiness arising from a frank and honest discussion. Feedback is not about filling up forms but initiating a conversation about improvement, areas to focus and personal and career development.
There is no better place to look at for role models than in sports, especially ‘winning teams’. High levels of differentiation exist amongst players, there is certainly no equity in salaries and the coach perhaps earns a fraction of what the stars are paid.

Despite all this, there is no ambiguity about feedback from a coach to a player. Feedback is not couched in soothing words merely because a player is a star. A good coach, to use the words of Coach Krzyzewski, from his book, ‘Leading with the Heart’ tells his team, “At any time, I can and will tell you where you stand and how you’re doing. In addition, every member of the team knows right up front not only that I will tell them the truth-but I will do so as soon as possible.”

2. Make it your top priority: Insufficient time, too many things on the plate are common reasons that HR professionals are familiar with when performance reviews are not completed in time. Yet managers overlook the fact that providing feedback is the single biggest critical requirement of any leader.
Great leaders know the importance of feedback and invest sufficient time in providing feedback. Apart from many initiatives on leadership development initiated by Jack Welch at GE, he also used to spend a month every year on the rigorous management appraisal and succession planning reviews called “Session C.” Developing subordinates’ was a very serious responsibility for senior managers in GE and Session C was ”the pinnacle of a painstaking system of appraising executives and helping them improve their skills and plan their careers.”

Kevin Sharer, CEO Amgen says, “You’ve got to get ongoing constructive feedback to push you out of your comfort zone. This is never more important than when you are the CEO. My direct reports go off every year and write performance reviews. I also write each executive a two-page letter over Christmas that summarises and what I want them to focus on every year.”*

Continued after break…

With our compliments

You are invited to use our web based 360-degree feedback tool to invite about 6-8 of your colleagues. We will give you an online report based on the feedback you receive, with our compliments.

You will be able to gather feedback on 6 basic competencies.

To find out more, please email us at deepa@jigyasaconsulting.com

3 Encourage and Listen to feedback:Create a culture where people don’t shy away from providing feedback, both positive and negative. The willingness to be open about feedback allows an organization to be nimble to changes in the dynamic external world.
As, Hank Paulson, CEO of Goldman Sachs shares this about Criticism: “One of the things we have done for years is 360-degree reviews. It’s amazing when you go to a leader who reviewed you, and thirty of them trust you. But all thirty say to you don’t listen well.” It has an impact.**

4. Make feedback a continuous process: Feedback should be given regularly. It should not be a half-yearly or annual exercise. ‘How am I doing?’ seeks to satisfy a basic human need. Effective Leaders understand that regular and timely feedback enables their teams to deliver better.

5. Differentiate between the slacker, someone who is going through a lean phase and a consistent star performer: One of the most important reasons why we hesitate to be upfront with what we think or feel about issues, especially at the work place is our need to be perceived as ‘good’. Yet, such leaders do not realise they risk alienating most of the team with this kind of behaviour.
Abraham Maslow once said, “When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

One approach or style of giving feedback will not suit all kind of employees. Identify and differentiate the various groups of employees who typically fall in categories of the slacker, someone who is going through a lean phase and a consistent star performer.

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Winning: Jack Welch
Leading with the Heart: Coach K’s Successful strategies for Basketball, Business and Life. Mike Krzyzewski
*Control your Destiny or someone else will Noel Tichy
**From ‘Lessons in Leadership’, December 12, 2005, Fortune.


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