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Entries from February 2015

The biggest problem with feedback and how you can fix it

27th February 2015
When was the last time you received good quality feedback?
When was the last time gave good quality feedback to a
member of your team, a peer or your boss?
As a professional coach giving feedback is an essential part
of my work and from working with 100’s of clients over the years one thing I
have learned is that people long for feedback. This is feedback of any nature –
what they are good at and how they can improve.
So if people really want feedback how come they don’t get
It’s simple.
  • Many people don’t know how to ask for feedback.
  • Many people don’t know how to give good quality feedback.


All too often I hear generic feedback like, that was really good,
you did a great job with …., I really liked the way you did …, this isn’t quite
right, do this instead, I don’t think that went well….. This doesn’t help
anyone know exactly what it is they did well or what hey need to improve.
Get Specific
If you are self aware you often know what you could do
differently, and there are times
when you don’t. What helps in these circumstances is getting really specific
feedback. The more senior you go the more essential this is as it’s often fine-tuning
that is required
The two guys who climbed El Capitan in Yosemite Park are a
great example of this.
These guys are at the top of their game attempting a 3000
foot free climb. One of them, Kevin Jorgeson, struggled with one of the most
difficult parts of the climb and attempted it 11 times over a 7-day period. 11
Each time he reflected on what he was doing and tried again, ripping
his hands in the process. It was only when we saw footage from the cameraman (a
form of feedback) that he noticed his feet were the problem not his hands. By
simply adjusting his foot placement slightly he could make the next part of the
climb. When he made this adjustment – he made it and then progressed to the
This is how specific we need to get when giving feedback.
What exactly is it your team member or colleague needs to do
to be even better at their job? Do they need to change their language, change
their tone, take some deep breaths when someone disagrees with them, think more
specifically about their audience or their message, stand more confidently by
lifting their head and standing balanced, make eye contact…
So next time you are about to give someone some feedback
either spontaneously or during appraisal – what exactly is it that will help
Make sure they are in the right place mentally to receive
it, and tell them that you have some feedback for them. If they are not ready
for it they won’t hear it.
Make it count!
“All employees have an innate desire to contribute to
something bigger than themselves.”


4 misconceptions about saying no

12th February 2015
PrioritiseI have had several conversations over recent weeks with
colleagues and clients who are either tired, have expressed being close to burn
out last year, or overwhelmed with the volume of work.
On one hand, I completely understand this as there is an
ever increasing need for organisations to achieve more with less, adapt and
change with the environment they are in, whether that’s driven by the
competition, customers, technology, the economy or all four!!
On the other hand, this just feels so wrong. As humans we
only have a certain capacity to cope with these stresses and strains before it
begins to take it’s toll. Whilst there are techniques we can utilise to build
our resilience over time, what can you do in the short term?

Say No
Say no to taking on this extra responsibility
Say no to attending a meeting you have no idea what it’s
Say no to accepting under performance
Say no to answering your emails after 7.00 pm (or whatever
time you put to put around this)
PrioritiseIt never ceases to surprise me how many people struggle with
this one little word and yet it can be a lifesaver.
As a leader it’s one of the things you have to get
comfortable saying – to yourself and to others.
The Misconceptions
I hear many reasons why saying ‘no’ is not appropriate:
  • I
    don’t want to upset anyone
    . Saying no isn’t personal. Few people I know take a ‘no’
    response personally. If they do it’s usually because of the way the message has
    been delivered not the message itself. 
    In my experience it brings great clarity on what may be required or not
    and people actually know where you and they stand. People like boundaries and
    saying ‘no’ is putting a line in the sand. In fact saying yes and not meaning
    it is worse as people do tend to pick up on your incongruence. And a maybe is
    even worse – leaving things somewhat up in the air.
  • They
    may not like me.
    Leadership is not about being liked. People may not like the
    decision and if they happen to react badly to what you are telling them it’s
    because of the content of what you are saying rather than you personally. The
    key here is to separate the decision from the people. Often explaining the
    reason for your ‘no’ can clear this up. They may still not like your decision
    and take some time to come to terms with it but it really isn’t about you.
  • My
    boss might think I’m being obstructive or un-ambitious.
    As a successful leader
    you have got to where you are because you can get things done… The more senior
    you get the trick is to work smarter not harder, which often means saying ‘no’
    to people and situations which are ineffective and not aligned to the corporate
    goals. When you are really clear about your priorities and what is important it
    becomes much easier to know what to say ‘yes’ to and what to say ‘no’ to.
    Saying ‘no’ and explaining the reason for your response and maybe suggesting an
    alternative can actually demonstrate your clarity of thinking around priorities
    and the impact of particular actions.
  • I
    may miss an opportunity.
    Opportunities are all around us. The question is which
    is the one that is the most appropriate right now? You have limited resources.
    It’s about making the best of those. Saying ‘no’ to some of the opportunities
    presented often allows more to be achieved with the one(s) you choose. 

Successful leaders are really clear about their priorities
and great at re-prioritising when necessary. Saying ‘no’ to things that don’t
fit with your priorities is a great strength.
So, if you are one of those leaders who struggles with this
word, where can you start to practice? How can you say no elegantly and with
And if you need help call me. I have some great techniques
that will help you become more comfortable and confident in saying no.
“It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the
things that are really important.”

Steve Jobs
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