January 7, 2013

More feedback, please

Don't be a Dick (Vermeil)
There's a persistent misunderstanding about the word "feedback." Folks think that to give feedback is to be rude, to be a mean football coach, to be constructive. 

Feedback is just evidence of what the person did. In athletics, a great tool for feedback is a stopwatch. You ran a lap–here is your time. The watch isn't judging you. It isn't being positive or negative. It's just telling you the results of your work.

In our jobs, we don't always know the results of our work. Was my presentation effective? Did I write my email well? Who the heck knows?

Giving effective feedback to direct reports is easy. It takes just three sentences. The Manager Tools guys would do it this way:

Dick Vermeil, can I give you some feedback? (Vermeil: "Yes.") OK, when you make that face, here's what happens: it makes me uncomfortable, and makes your players scared. Then, they lose lots of football games. Is there something you can do differently next time? 
Start by giving positive feedback to your best directs tomorrow.

  1. Can I give you feedback?
  2. When you do that awesome thing, here's what happens: [AwesomeResult] 
  3. Yo, keep it up