Tag Archives: Become the best manager

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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5 ways to become the best manager for your employees

BestManagerIn my last blog post, I have talked about few earlier signs of your management failures. And hence, in this blog post, I will provide you with a formula to handle each issue separately, and how you can turn around these situations in your favor.

Learn from the exit interview: As I have mentioned in my last blog, if you are having a higher turnover rate in your team as compared to your organization/department, then you might want to analyze your leadership style. Try to get as much information as you can through the exit interview. If these exit interviews are taken by the HR Department, then work with your HR personnel to include your questions in the mix. Try to include questions, which can give you some inside scoop on your leadership style. For example: Few problematic communication practices, managerial feedback, etc. Depending on their inputs you should try to change your leadership style.

Learn from your 360 review: Often 360 degree multi-rater assessments or employee’s feedback surveys will provide you with the valuable input about your management style in general.  So, make sure that you take those survey results seriously, and take out some time to act on the improvement opportunities mentioned in the survey. Look for things like, your engagement rating with your employees, your general relationships with others, etc. At worst, it will provide you few pointers on where you are going wrong, and how to improve your management style.

Communicate effectively: As I have mentioned in my last blog, if you are having multiple employee’s disputes as compared to other teams, then you might not be a good manager. In order to improve your situation, you might want to increase your communication with your team members. Make sure that you clearly communicate your decisions to your team. Often times miscommunication can generate a sense of inequity or unfairness about these decisions, leading to disputes that tend to end up in the lap of Human Resources departments because they relate to the application of written company policies or procedures. Thus, you should try to communicate with each team member at least once a day. Make it a practice. Also, you should schedule at least one-on-one during a month, where you just talk about your employee’s personal growth and any concerns that he/she might have. This approach will help you to communicate with your team effectively.

Frequent performance reviews: Good manager will always schedule frequent one-on-one with their employees. As a manager, you should always provide your feedback to your employees on an ongoing basis, throughout the year or throughout the period for which the review is being conducted. So, when it’s the time of doing the performance review, its mere a documentation of what you have been talking about during the entire year. If you follow this approach, then you can at least reduce the amount of conflicts between you and your employees during the performance review period.

Lead by example: Let’s assume that you might be one of those bad managers and you might have developed a bad reputation for territoriality, or being “difficult to work with”. Even then, it is never too late to change. Though it might take some time to change other’s perception of you, you can do that. Just try to hold yourself to higher standards. When someone is completely bypassing you in the decision making process, try to talk with that person and identify their issues. It might take some communication and extra efforts in resolving these issues, but you can lead by example. You can show your team members and others in the organization on how you follow your company’s processes, and why your inputs are valuable in the decision making process. If you keep on following this practice, I am sure that you can regain their trust, and improve the work throughput.

I hope, my blog has helped you in seeing some of the general shortcomings of a manager, and helped you become the best manager for your employees. Please share your comments here, if you agree/disagree with my point of view.

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi


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5 signs of being a bad manager

Bad ManagerMany managers fail to recognize their mistakes. Sometimes its not their fault at all. They just don’t see the early signs of their management failure, and hence, they can’t fix the underneath issue. After all, you can only fix something, if you know what is wrong. Thus, in order to help these managers in identifying the initial signs of failure, I am writing this blog. Through this blog, you should be able to see some initial signs of your leadership failures.

Higher turnover rate: Every organization experiences some kind of turnover in its positions, especially in the market-based economies like the Untied States. However, at least 40% of the turnover in the market place is due to the bad manager. If you are seeing more than an average turnover in your team, then its your time to analyze your leadership skills and management style. When inordinate amounts of turnover exist in your group, it may be that you might be alienating valuable staff members.

Hard time to fill positions:  When you loose people from your team, hiring from within the organization should be your first and most cost- effective option. When you are finding it more difficult to fill these positions within the organization, it may be that you might have developed a reputation as someone for whom it is difficult to work for.  Though it is not always the case, you might want to analyze the reasons behind not being able to fill these positions. It might be telling you something about your hiring practice or your reputation in the organization.

Increase in employee’s disputes: If you are a bad manager, then you must be seeing lot of disputes between you and your team. If Human Resources staff members are called upon frequently to mediate specific human relations issues, then it might be the time for you to do some self-analysis about your management style. This is a clear sign that you are not able to control your team members, and hence, you will not only loose some respect in their eyes, but you will also be seen as an ineffective manager in front of your superiors.

Performance reviews are challenged: For a good manager, a performance review is nothing but an opportunity to document something that happened during the year. Neither the employee nor you should be surprised by seeing any comments written in the review. But that doesn’t happen all the time. Few managers always have an issue during the performance review period, where their performance reviews are challenged by their employees. If you are one of those managers, where your performance assessments are often challenged by your employees, then it’s a sign that you are a bad manager.

Company’s policies are neglected: One of the signs to identify that you are a bad manager or not, is to observe your team. If you are frequently neglected in the decision making process, and if your employees are frequently neglecting the company’s policies and procedures, then it’s the time for you to analyze your management style. If you are deemed difficult to work with, then often your team members and other employees will follow the path of least resistance, and completely ignore you in the decision making process. This should be the clear indication that your management style needs some updating.

I hope, through my blog post you can get few hints about your current management style. Please share your comments here, if you agree/disagree with my point of view.

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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Posted by on March 13, 2014 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management


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How to gauge your leadership perception through your team’s feedback?

FeedbackLeadership’s perception is the key in deciding how effective is your leadership. If your team has the wrong perception of your leadership style, and if they do not consider all of the external factors that shape your leadership style, then they might cause few negative consequences for the organization and yourself. Thus, it is very essential to look at your leadership style from your team member’s perspective. And hence, I will provide you with few methods through which you can measure your leadership perception in the eyes of your team.

360-degree review: In order to get an unbiased feedback from your team about your leadership style, you need to find appropriate methods for soliciting that feedback. And the best way to get that feedback is by initiating a 360-degree review of your leadership performance and ability. I would advise you to coordinate with your manager or Human Resource representative to ensure that the process is carried out professionally and in a manner suitable to your workplace. Be sure to solicit and include multiple peers from a variety of sources to get as many perspectives as possible. If you have a small HR department in your company, or if you don’t have enough resources to do a 360-review, then you might want to try creating a free survey on a website like SurveyMonkey with specific questions related to your leadership style.

One-on-one: Another method through which you can get an unbiased feedback from your team regarding your leadership style is through one-on-one meetings with your team members. I would advise you to coordinate a series of one-on-one candid discussions with the people you respect as leaders and your team. From the feedback of those leaders, who have a vested interest in developing you as a leader in your organization, you can get some advice or experience that may be valuable to help you grow as a leader. While the feedback from your team members will help you to understand what works and what doesn’t work in your existing leadership style, so that you can tweak your current style to become a better leader.

Customer feedback: Customers are the reason why we are here. And hence, it is very critical to obtain your customer’s feedback to get an outside perspective of how you lead your team. What does the customer feedback say about you as a leader? Are customers willing and eager to work with your team? Are the objectives clearly defined to achieve the desired end results? Does the customer see you as an advocate for your team and your organization? How do you perform in crisis management situations? If you don’t directly interact with the end consumer of your end product, then get the feedback from the team that you support.

Have you ever found the need to measure your leadership perception? If so, what other methods have you used to gauge your leadership perception in the eyes of your team?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management


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