Leadership Philosophy (home/work): Expectations & Feedback

I built my career on helping my sales reps and managers focus on clear goals, listen to the challenges they were facing, ask good questions to stimulate thought (available resources) and creativity (new ideas/resources), and provide the coaching support to help them achieve their goals.  This is my passion and what I have done successfully for 20 years.

My management philosophy (past work and now home) boils down to goal clarity, excellent communication, and continuous improvement (a culture of not being too satisfied and that it's ok to make mistakes).  You've got to know where you're going and make sure that all behaviors are aligned to help you get there.  Ok, those are a few management buzzwords and I know I got a few Dilbert-like comments during meetings when I used them, so I adopted a basic phrase that I beat like a drum.  It stuck and it always seemed to apply to help directors lead, and my managers coach more effectively.  It even applied to my Dad in his transition.  I also realized that I use it, unconsciously, with my kids.


We know that much employee frustration (family too when you think about it) comes from the fact that they truly don't know what's expected of them.  Goals and objectives need to be clear and confirmation of understanding needs to be established,  which is often taken for granted.  I ask my kids to, "repeat back to me what you just heard me say", sounds basic but a lot of communication is lost in translation somewhere and is therefore ineffective.  Don't assume.  Make sure the EXPECTATION is clear.  Allow for discussion and input to make sure that it is realistic and attainable but in the end it must be clear, well established and agreed to.

That's the easy part.  Feedback is fun and easy when it's good but when behavior falls off course and isn't where it should be...  we need to have the courage to have an uncomfortable conversation to provide quality feedback.  Feedback that is objective, honest, fact-based, clear, concise, and definitely not emotionally charged.  What makes this Step #2 MUCH easier is if you have done Step #1 correctly.  If the expectations are clear and agreed upon, you can guide the other person to discuss how their own objective behavior is is falling short of expectations that you have discussed together in detail.  It can be a conversation that you initiate and guide that leads to another discussion about how to correct, or improve that behavior in the future.  The tone of the discussion is not accusatory, "you failed", but one of isolating specific behaviors and finding ways to do it better next time.  Creating an environment of trust and collaboration is a key ingredient to success.

I applied it at work, I use it at home (could still do it more consistently), and this student just got to use it with the teacher.  I love this stuff!


Bill at FamZoo said...

Brian, I like your stated management philosophy, and I find it applies really well to parenting. When expectations are super clear and explicit and communication is frequent, it takes a lot of the emotion out of otherwise charged situations. I also love the balance of accommodating mistakes but always pushing for improvement. It's all about maintaining a positive slope!

Daria @ Mom in Management said...

Love it Brian. Great advice and it's amazing how much of that work stuff translates to home too! :)