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  • Writer's pictureLars Christensen

The Feedback Imperative by Anna Carroll

I finished this book in January 2023. I recommend this book 8/10.

Everyone wants feedback, but it can be so hard to give. Anna Carroll's book will provide you with the tools—now, you, as a leader, have to be brave.

Get your copy here.

My notes and thoughts:

  • P6. The same holds true for learning on the job. The more frequent the feedback, the easier it is to learn and improve. The simple truth is that employees need more feedback from their managers. At work, a person's manager is their primary source of feedback information. If you are a manager, you may be the only source of feedback about whether an employee is doing a good job and, more importantly, what adjustments the employee can make to improve on a continuous basis.

  • P19. No matter what your generation, there is a huge upside to giving and receiving everyday feedback. In addition to keeping people happier on the job, feedback loops stimulate improvements and better results for the company. Referring to feedback and development of employees, Gleen Llopis lists the five most powerful things about transparency:

    • Problems are solved faster.

    • Teams are built easier.

    • Relationships grow authentically.

    • People begin to promote trust in their leader.

    • Higher levels of performance emerge.

  • P40. Based on the Empathizer's approach to feedback, all or some of these risks may apply within their team:

    • People aren't challenged to improve or develop beyond their current capabilities.

    • Group results suffer due to the poor performance of some team members.

    • High performers feel discouraged because poor performance is tolerated, leading to the attrition of high performers.

    • Fast-track, highly motivated employees become bored or impatient with the lack of development and look elsewhere for a role with a boss who challenges them.

    • Everyone in the group gets comfortable with lower standards and stops striving to improve.

  • P43. Possible risks from inside the Analyzer belief zone:

    • Team members miss out on valuable information that could help improve their performance.

    • There's a lack of face-to-face communication or regular team meetings.

    • Deep-rooted issues may be swept under the rug or ignored.

    • The Analyzer may take too long to content plate an issue that requires swift, corrective action.

    • Analyzers inadvertently create a cool, impersonal work environment that doesn't encourage sharing or connection with others.

  • P45. Possible risks from inside the Charger belief zone:

    • Team members feel as if they are being held to impossible standards with insufficient support and mentorship.

    • Feedback may be overly critical.

    • Chargers may not see the need to combine feedback with coaching, personal development, and two-way communication.

    • Chargers often lack the patience or skills to actively listen to ideas from another perspective.

    • The idea of accomplishing a goal overshadows the development of people and processes that contribute to that goal.

    • Feedback is quick and broad instead of more thoughtfully conveyed with details and examples that will help the team meet expectations.

    • The Charger's fear of failure may become a reality if people avoid their Charger boss, and feedback discussions never happen.

  • P47. Possible risks from inside the Motivator belief zone:

    • There's often a lack of consistent, individualized feedback.

    • There may be too much spontaneity and not enough structure.

    • Motivators might avoid critical feedback if it appears to endanger the unity of the larger group.

    • Motivators often give shallow feedback, as opposed to the kind that's meaningful and in-depth, with examples and goal setting. Feedback loops may be left incomplete due to the lack of frequent accurate information employees need to make adjustments to their behavior.

  • P53. When we get upset about feedback, the limbic system moves blood into our arms and legs and doses us with performance enhancers such as cortisol. It diverts oxygen from the memory and reasoning portions of the brain and disables competing efforts from the digestive and reproductive systems. This has the effect of impairing our problem-solving capabilities while the brain obsessively focuses on the perceived danger. An obsessed brain makes it difficult to attend to anything else. Decisions made while in fight-or-flight mode are rarely the ones we would choose under calmer, lower-stress circumstances. With all of this turmoil, it's not surprising that feedback is difficult.

  • P55. Further research on feedback shows that a manager's emotional messages are so strong that even negative (or corrective) feedback can be received positively when delivered in a calm and positive manner. Calm delivery prevents the fight-or-flight trigger. Conversely, positive feedback delivered by a stressed-out or otherwise negative-sounding manager can be received negatively by the employee. Either way, the manager's level of stress or calm is directly transmitted to the receiver.

  • P56. If you consciously focus on your own brain's ability to adapt, you can experience feedback in a far more beneficial way. Here are four steps to help you rewire your brain. You can experience neuroplasticity firsthand:

    • Recognize any negative states of mind that feedback can trigger in your brain.

    • Reframe the idea of everyday feedback as a helpful and positive action for you, your employees, and the organization.

    • Redirect how you give feedback so that it creates positive emotional associations for everyone involved.

    • Revel in your success, as it will speed up the rewiring process.

  • P69. If one of your team members sees that they're not a good match for the role, they are likely to take it upon themselves to look elsewhere. In the rare circumstance that you must place an employee on a disciplinary program that may end in separation from the company, it is certain that you will need to collect documentation. But the everyday-feedback process, with its frequent feedback loops, will help you accomplish that more easily.

  • P82. I realize this whole visioning effort may feel a little goofy. Just give it a try! There's a huge—I'll wager 90 percent—probability that you will like the results you'll experience. Here we go:

    • Find a time when you have at least 45 minutes to relax. Is it now? Later today? Tomorrow? Saturday?

    • Use a pen and paper rather than your computer for this task. It will help you break any associations of your computer with spreadsheets and email.

    • Download and print out a copy of the worksheet

    • Find a relaxing place to sit, preferably not at your office desk. It can be a comfortable chair in your home, at a coffee shop, or in the lobby of a hotel. It can even be your car parked in a scenic place.

    • Disconnect from interruptions. Turn off your phone and prepare to relax.

    • Select a future time frame that would be meaningful to focus on—preferably nine to twelve months from today. Is it the end of the calendar or fiscal year? Is it at the completion of a project or deadline? Select any date that would be easiest to focus on in a positive way.

  • P101. Now is a good time to create scripts for each person on your team. You will need:

    • Your notes from the vision you did in the last chapter.

    • A COIN planning worksheet.

    • For the first person on your agenda, review what you envisioned for them and what feedback area would most impact your team's results.

  • P103. COIN Worksheet:

    • Connection to the person's goals and interests.

    • Observations that are specific.

    • Impact on work results.

    • Next Steps: suggest, discuss, and agree upon.

  • P106. Put yourself in their shoes: If your boss started giving you feedback about a challenging part of your job, wouldn't you have something to ask of your boss?

  • P118. Remind them that you're trying to create a climate that promotes learning and everyone being OK with feedback; you're trying to build a culture where people aren't fearful of giving and receiving feedback; you're encouraging everyone to speak more honestly with one another; and you're looking forward to even more positive experience with feedback.

  • P138. To ask empowering questions effectively requires a lot of listening, a lot of patience, and a lot of probing questions. Your first question might be, "What do you think is stopping you from achieving this outcome?" Then, you can follow up with these questions:

    • "What are your beliefs about this situation?"

    • "Where are these 'shoulds' and "musts" coming from?"

    • Why has this worked or not worked?"

    • "Can you tell me a story about when you tried to achieve this outcome?"

    • "What was the hardest step for you?"

    • "What would be possible if you had a different belief about your ability in this area?"

    • "What would happen if you had a different belief about what others 'should' do?"

    • "What else can you do to achieve this outcome?"

  • P140. Stimulate resourcefulness questions:

    • "What are some things you could do to move forward on this?"

    • "What are some ways to get past these barriers?"

    • "Who would be helpful to you in learning about solutions or skills you need?"

    • "What are some things you could work on in the next few weeks to make progress on this outcome?"

    • "If you looked at this issue in a completely different way, what would be a 'crazy" solution?"

    • "What are you willing to challenge yourself to do in the order to really achieve this outcome?"

  • P141. You need an action plan, but you need one that comes with full commitment. A solution or exciting new goal can slip away if the person you are coaching hasn't brought their attention to the steps they will need to take. They can avoid sabotaging themselves if you explore their emotional commitment to the plan. Start with what the person is going to do when they walk out of your office today.

  • P157. While coaching conversations led by executives may happen less frequently than individuals on the team would like, they are very powerful when they do happen. Executives who take the time to explore goals, barriers, and solutions with each direct report are the most valued leaders of all. A leader in an everyday-feedback environment can't solve everyone's problem, but they are passionate about their mission to speak their truth, be trustworthy, and promote those qualities in others.

  • P158. Six steps to Everyday Feedback:

    • Explain what you are doing.

    • Look for the highest good.

    • Use Connection-Observation-Impact-Next steps.

    • Ask for feedback in return and adjust big.

    • Create more feedback loops.

    • Become a great coach.

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