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How to build a successful trust relationship with your employees?


234ec-encourage-othersI have seen many managers struggling with building a successful trust relationship with their employees. Building a trust relationship with anyone in itself is not easy, and it is even more complex when you have to build that relationship with your employees to whom you can’t disclose certain confidential information. Thus, most managers take a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach. Obviously, neglecting that part of the employee-manager relationship will not help you either. Trust is very critical to the success of any organization, and as a leader you need to be able to trust your employees; and more importantly, your employees need to be able to trust you. Hence, in this blog, I will provide you with few pointers through which you can build a successful trust relationship with your employees.

Be open with your employees: I am not telling you to disclose all the confidential information to your employees, at the first chance that you get. But you should at least keep your employees informed about what’s happening in your organization. You should always try to disclose some general information that you know without releasing any sensitive (or confidential) information. Also, whenever you get an opportunity, you should try to share your values, thoughts and beliefs with your employees, so that they get the opportunity to know you better. If you support and praise your employee’s achievements and try to be positive most of the time by maintaining each other’s self esteem, then you will at least earn their respect by showing this consistent behavior.

Provide regular feedback: Unfortunately, most managers don’t consider feedback-giving process as the avenue to build trust relationship with their employees. For some managers, feedback is just another process through which they have to go through once a month during their one-on-one sessions with their employees. If you change this mindset and recognize the potential of your one-on-one time with your employees, then you can do wonders. Do this…try to develop a habit of talking to your direct reports at least once a day. I know, it will be hard at first, but you will be surprised to note the positive change in your employees within few weeks. By providing them regular feedback (yes I mean it, regular), you will be giving some time to this manager-employee relationship. And sometimes, only the time is needed to build stronger relationships. Don’t you agree?

Trust others: I know, this is easier said than done. But trust is a two way street. Unless you trust your employees, and always assume their positive intent, you won’t be allowing them to build a trust relationship with you. If you are serious about building this relationship with your employees then you need to stand up for your employees, and suspend any judgment that you might have. You should develop a practice of respecting your differences and appreciate each other’s skills. I know, it will take time, but it can definitely be achieved. And once you stand up for your employees, you will see that your employees will start standing up for you.

These are some ideas through which you can improve the trust relationship between you and your employees. If you have any other ideas through which we can improve this trust relationship, then please share your ideas with me through your comments. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How to effectively provide negative feedback to your employees? Part 2


ManagementStyleMost managers blame their employees for their poor performance instead of talking directly to them about these issues. Unfortunately, some of these managers try to take the easy way out, and turn a blind eye to their employee’s issues. After all, confronting someone about their behavioral issues is not the prettiest thing in the world. Thus, in this blog, I will continue my conversation from my last blog, and provide you with couple of other ideas that you can use while providing negative feedback to your employees.

Don’t give advice: Even though most managers recognize the importance of giving their feedback to their employees, they completely misunderstand the meaning of feedback itself. Instead of utilizing the feedback time for giving their feedback to their employees, these managers try to give their advice to their employees during these feedback meetings. It is not always appropriate to give advice to other people. If your advice does not work, you will be blamed later for it. Thus, you should rather try to share your opinions and ideas with your employees, and let them come up with an appropriate solution by themselves. Suppose an employee who is having trouble with some task comes to you and asks, “What am I doing wrong?” Instead of giving advice, share your personal experience with your employees. For example, you might describe a similar problem you had, and how you handled it. It is then up to them to decide what to do. This approach will not only make them independent, but it will also improve their knowledge base.

Don’t delay your feedback: If you want to provide an effective feedback to your employees, you need make sure that your feedback is always timely. Well timed feedback is more likely to provide you with the right results than delayed feedback because it allows the person to correct actions or behaviors while they are still fresh. For example, if your employee messes up the accounting system, you might want to discuss the problem with the responsible employee immediately, if possible, or at least within a day or two. Even though you want to provide your feedback to them immediately, try to consider the environmental factors first. For example, if you point out the employee’s mistakes in front of a group of coworkers, it is likely to be resented. Thus, try to provide the sensitive feedback in a private setting, probably in a one-on-one meeting or something.

Don’t be overpowering: No one wants to look bad in front of others, we all want to feel intelligent in front of others. This goes for your employees as well. During your negative feedback communication, your employees will often continue to argue for a plan even when it is obviously not working or in the best interest of the organization, because they want themselves to look good in front of you and others. Thus, during these meetings you should provide an avenue to your employees to save their face. Your employees are more likely to accept your negative feedback if you allow some degree of face saving for them. For example, instead of saying, “Your idea was rejected,” mention that the rejection was due in part to lack of funds or other factors, thereby allowing them to save their face.

With these pointers, I am ending my two-part series blog about – ‘providing negative feedback to your employees’. If you have any other ideas through which we can make this process easier, then please share your ideas with me through your comments here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How to effectively provide negative feedback to your employees? Part 1


FeedbackFirst of all, I would like to thank my readers for really liking my last blog series about ‘honest feedbacks’. I really appreciate your feedback, so please keep it coming. Secondly, many of you have asked me how to provide honest, but negative feedback, to your employees, and hence, I am writing this two-part series blog for answering some of your questions.

Refrain from personal attacks: While giving feedback to others, try to direct your feedback towards their behavior rather than towards that particular person. A common mistake lot of managers make is to criticize the person rather than their negative behavior. If you tell your assistant that she is a poor excuse for a secretary, then it is a personal attack rather than a constructive criticism. These kind of feedback can only make your employees more defensive towards you and your feedback. So, try to identify the problematic behavior and focus on what can be done to correct it in the future, instead of launching personal attacks towards your employees. For example: This is what you tell your secretary when she makes an accounting mistake … “Jackie, an accounting mistake like this one can cost way more than our weekly office budget. From now on, please check with me before finalizing any orders costing more than $100″.

Be descriptive: While providing feedback to your employees, don’t be evaluative or judgmental, instead be descriptive. Descriptive feedback is tactfully honest and objective, whereas evaluative feedback seems to be more judgmental and accusatory to the feedback receiver. Here is an example of an evaluative feedback: “Where is your sales report? You know it is due on my desk no later than 9:00 each morning. You’re obviously not reliable anymore.” Here is an example of a descriptive feedback for the same situation: “When you don’t turn your sales reports in on time, I’m unable to complete the departmental report on time. This makes both of us look bad. You’ve been late twice this month. Is there something I can do to help you get those reports in on time?” Like in this example, descriptive words are more likely to result in cooperation.

Keep it short: If you are providing constructive criticism to your employee, don’t have a marathon about it. Try to include only as much information as the person can handle at one time. Suppose during a performance appraisal, you give an employee a list of 20 items that need improvement. Even though you might feel better after fully expressing your feelings, your employee will only remember 2-3 major bullet items from that meeting and forget everything else. How can anyone improve on 20 things at the same time? Think about it, can you do that? What would have happened if your manager gave you similar feedback? Wouldn’t you require more time to analyze this much information at once? Thus, you should restrict yourself while giving negative feedback to your employees. Give only two or three suggestions that your employee can reasonably handle at a time.

These are some ideas through which you can effectively provide negative feedback to your employees. If you have any other ideas through which we can make this process easier, then please share your ideas with me through your comments here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How to make your feedback communications more comfortable for your employees?


GenerationXIn my last blog post, I have provided you with a couple of tips through which you can get an honest feedback from your peers without putting them on the spot. In this blog, I will provide you with some more tips on getting effective feedback, but this time I will concentrate on a few subtle methods, so your peers don’t feel uncomfortable while providing their honest feedback to you.

Listen first, talk later: Too many people ask for feedback, wait only 2 or 3 seconds, before they start talking again. It takes more time than that for most people to organize and verbalize their responses. And hence, once you ask for their feedback, you should be silent for more than 10 – 15 seconds, and give them time to think and organize their thoughts. Once they start speaking, don’t disrupt them in between, even if you don’t agree with some of their comments. If you do that, they might lose their train of thoughts, and you will end up diverting the conversation to something else completely. Thus, I would recommend you to use a pen and paper (or any note taking application) during these kind of conversations. In this way, you can present your counter argument later without interrupting your peers while they are providing you with their valuable feedback.

Paraphrase: Even when you feel sure you understand a person’s feedback, it is important to paraphrase. For example, if your boss says, “This rush job has top priority,” you could paraphrase by saying, “You are telling me that this rush job has higher priority than any other job I’m working on now. Is that right?” By paraphrasing, you are not only making sure that you understood him correctly, but you are also asking for his validation on the spot. Do not assume that you understand the meaning of the feedback that you receive from others. If you even have a slightest doubt in understanding their feedback, then don’t be afraid of asking for clarification. Worst come worst, you will get the same feedback again, but you will ensure that you understand their point of view crystal clear.

Be interactive: Don’t let the feedback be one-sided deal. Even though, you don’t want to disrupt in-between, you want to make sure that you use encouraging statements during this process, so that your peers feel comfortable while giving their feedback. People usually adjust their feedback by monitoring the listener’s verbal and nonverbal reactions. And hence, you want to make sure that you are interactive and positive during this process. If you want a person’s honest opinion, you must encourage it by purposely saying such things as “Really?”, “Interesting”, “So, you feel that. . . .”, etc.

Follow-up with a reward: If you are a manager, you can reward feedback by complimenting the person, preferably in front of colleagues. You can also implement a reward system within your team, where  “Best Idea of the Month” employee gets a public recognition through name calling or a personalized placard or a company pen with their name engraved on it. If you are an individual contributor (employee), you can sincerely thank people for their comments and perhaps write them a note of thanks. In this way, you will not only encourage them to provide their feedback again, but you will also encourage others to provide their feedback to you after looking at this person’s experience with you.

These are some ideas through which you can make the feedback communication slightly easier for your peers. If you have any other ideas through which we can improve our feedback communication, then please share it through your comments here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How to get honest feedback from your peers without putting them on the spot?


FeedbackManagers who encourage their employees to give honest feedback mostly find themselves improving the accuracy and productivity of their quality of work. I know I have. Feedbacks often increase employee satisfaction with their job by providing them with a voice and valuing their opinions.

In my last blog, I have identified many hurdles due to which people refrain from giving their honest feedback to you. And hence, in this blog, I will provide you with few tips and tricks through which you can get honest feedback from your peers, and eliminate any hurdles that you might encounter.

Ask for it: Tell people you want their feedback. When people feel that their opinions and observations may be used against them or that your feelings may be easily hurt, they withhold their feedback. Thus, let them know that you consider their personal opinions, questions, and disagreements, not only useful but also necessary. If you are hesitant to ask for their direct feedback, try  to use 360-degree feedback with the help of your HR Department. In that process, your peers, superiors, subordinates, customers, suppliers, and sales staff provide their feedbacks anonymously to you. So, you are more likely to get their honest feedback.

Be specific: When you ask for someone’s feedback, they are mostly confused, as they don’t know where to start. That doesn’t mean that they don’t want to provide their feedback, its just that they don’t know what you are looking for. Thus, before asking for the feedback, its your job to identify the areas in which you want the feedback. If you want personal feedback, you might say, “I am trying to improve my presentation’s delivery and am interested in knowing how confident I appeared in today’s meeting.” Similarly, if you want only feedback pertaining to the organization of your ideas, then specify that topic.

Make it regular: Let’s assume that you are working for a hands-off manager, who gives you work flexibility, and doesn’t meet with you that often. Now, imagine a situation where he suddenly stops by your office and asks for your honest feedback. What would you do in that situation? I don’t know about you, but I would be baffled, if my manager doesn’t have the habit of asking my feedback regularly. Instead of giving him my feedback, I might think that I am in some kind of a trouble. Won’t you? Your employees will have the same mindset. Thus, it is very important for us, as a manager, to set aside some time for regularly scheduled feedback sessions. These sessions will not only help you get your employee’s honest feedback, but it will also show your employees that you value their feedback and care for their opinions.

These are some of few ideas through which you can make it easier for your peers to provide their honest feedback to you. Wait for my next blog, where I will provide you with some more insight on effective feedback taking. In the meanwhile, if you have any other ideas through which we can improve the process of feedback taking, then please share it through your comments here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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Why do we refrain from taking or giving feedbacks to our peers?


FeedbackAs a manager (or a leader), we should continually be looking for feedback from our peers and employees, and try to improve ourselves. After all, management is more about listening than doing, isn’t it? Even though you would like to improve yourself from these feedbacks, they are hard to come by. So, before we find out a better way to get feedback from our peers, we need to find out basic reasons due to which people feel uncomfortable taking (or giving) their honest feedback.

It emphasizes inferiorities: Honest feedback can sometime make people feel psychologically attacked. Even the most experienced manager or employee can become defensive when feedback seems negative. Take this for an example…Recently, I had to deal with a situation where one of my employee was struggling with time management, so I recommended him to take some time management training. Even though he is a top performer in my team, he was offended by hearing that I was disappointed with his performance. Instead of seeing this feedback as the opportunity to learn something new, he saw it as a personal attack instead.

Don’t know what to ask: Some people misunderstand feedback as the sign of poor communication. To those kind of people, feedback indicates that the message was not communicated very well, and hence, there is a necessity for feedback to get on the same page again. Often people are either so confused that they don’t know what to ask or so confident of their understanding that they ignore the need for any kind of verification. Thus, people refrain to ask for any kind of feedback, after all, no one wants to admit that they didn’t understand anything properly.

It is time consuming: No matter what kind of feedback you are seeking, verbal or written, it is always going to be time consuming task. Then it maybe at the meeting or through an e-mail, you need to make sure that you ask the right question, and get the honest response. Unfortunately, most of the managers won’t take the time to make sure that everyone is on the same page by asking for their feedback; instead, they will prefer to redo their tasks that should have been accomplished correctly the first time. Maybe they are used to this practice of dictatorship, or maybe they are afraid to put in the required time to ask the right question.

People are afraid: If you work in a developed Nation like US, UK, or Canada, you don’t want to admit that you are afraid of your Boss/Manager. But inherently we all respect the authorities of our Boss, and we are kind of afraid of their authorities as well. Even though we are taught to speak up our mind, we sometimes refrain from providing true feedback to our managers by being afraid of the consequences that it might have in the future. Is that not true? There is nothing wrong with this behavior. From our childhood we are taught to respect authority, then it maybe the authority of our parents or our teachers.

Can you find any other reasons due to which people refrain from giving their honest feedback to others? If so, please share it here, I would love to hear your take on this. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How to deal with the frustration of your employees?


EmployeeFrustrationWe are all humans, and we all have moments of disappointment when things don’t go our way. And I am sure, as a manager, you must have encountered these situations often, when your employees are feeling down for not accomplishing something that they have set their target on. Although most employees can easily navigate through these small bumps, sometimes you need to jump in when you see these opportunities. Having a quick one-on-one chat with your employees during these tough times would soften the blow, and lead them to a quicker recovery. So, what should you talk about during these times? Following are some of my advice…..

Appreciate their work: When you sit down with your employee to analyze the issue, you must not forget to appreciate their hard work first. Tell your employees that their work is highly valuable and their efforts are highly appreciated. This kind of conversation starter will put your employees at ease before discussing their issues. If I were their manager, I would say something like this – “These kind of issues keep on happening, and despite our best efforts, sometimes things don’t work out our way. But look at what you have accomplished, you tried something new, and got new experience, that’s what is important. After all, you can’t be perfect at everything, right?” This approach will not only let your employees know that you care, but it will also ease their mood before before having the actual conversation.

Walk through the issue: Once you have soothed the attitude of your employee, you can then get back to the business. Now, try to talk to your employee about the issue at hand and walk through it with them. By walking through the entire scenario again, you will get some good insight on the issue, and might be able to provide your valuable feedback to your employee. If he/she was expecting one outcome while other team members were expecting something else, then try to find out where did this disconnect come from? Were there some missing communications or interactions? Don’t interrupt your employee in between or recommend any solutions, just yet. Try to listen to his/her side of the story and take your notes on what might have gone wrong, that’s all.

Help them learn: Once you have completely listened to your employee and her side of the story, now it’s your time to help her think through the ‘do-over’.  Even though you are trying to help her, restrict yourself from coming up with any solution, just yet. Let her come up with her own solution to this problem. Ask her – “How can you handle it differently the next time?” Of course, the setback may have occurred even though she did everything right. So, try to ask her – “What were the factors outside of her control?” Try to help her gain a new perspective on these uncontrollable factors, so that she can handle them well in the future.

If you follow this three-part conversation while dealing with your employee’s frustrations, then you will encourage your employees to take better steps next time, rather than acting on their natural desire to avoid such situations in the future.

Was this blog helpful? Do you have any other ideas that you can share with me here?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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