Create Your own Brag Book!

elderly man in blue sweater holding a book
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Yes! You’re allowed to!

Hello again!

Welcome to another week. 

We had the family over for a Spanish style meal (paella, which my Spanish friend, Gonzalo, will only allow me to call “Rice with Stuff” because it’s not true paella. Tastes good but! 😉)

Today’s post about a really cool idea I discovered while doing research about beliefs and how they impact our lives as well as a deep dive into stress, particularly the good stress, Eu-stress. More articles to come on those topics soon.

Oh, and if you’ve eaten too much over the weekend, #dontstress, just start again! (That’s what I’m doing! 😬)

On with the show!

Bill

Today’s newsletter is a link to an article by David Hoang. David writes the newsletter “Proof of Concept”. The article, Your Career Hype Doc, is from December 2020 but it is too good not to share.

David talks about having a Hype Document, kind of like a brag book of all your accomplishments. David got the idea from a 2019 post by Jessica Ivins where she writes about a Career Management Document.

My contribution is to encourage you to take the time to investigate this and write down your accomplishments. I hear so many times from so many people who look at their work and shrug it off as if it was nothing. 

Write Stuff Down

I have noticed that I encourage people to write things down … a lot. This means taking time to think through the thoughts that pop into your head while you’re reading these posts or others you come across. Sometimes that can feel like a waste of time when we have so many other things to do. And if the information is important “I’m sure I’ll remember it!”

The palest ink is better than the best memory.” – Chinese proverb

This isn’t to give you homework! 😉 It is to provide you with a structure to make the most of your readings. So, for your benefit, take the time to note down your accomplishments. Pick a time frame, whether that be weekly or monthly, like David. And review how well you have done. 

You may not be where you want to be … but you won’t be where you were!

Most importantly, you’ll realise all of the things you do well. Which for some people, who tend to beat themselves up, will be a nice change. This really is an important activity.

Below is my progress for April. I’ve added a second page to my process. 

The left had side is bullet points as I think of them throughout the month. I don’t edit them. I write as I think. 

The right hand side is for looking for themes and summarising. I’ll do that at month’s end. That will help me encapsulate what I have done/achieved and I expect it will suggest next actions and directions to take.

Additional benefit: This would be a really good coaching tool for someone you’re working with. Ask them to take note of their daily or weekly wins. The have them review them with you when you catch up and, using there right hand side, ask them to articulate what this means for them! Could be quite powerful.


One last thing.

I’ve joined a gym, Flow Performance, here in Perth. If you’re in Perth, and can get to Balcatta, highly recommended! The community they have built over the past few years is amazing. And to that end I bought some Nike Metcon shoes, which seem to be quite popular in gyms. I also took the time to customise them a little. 😉

Is Giving Feedback a Problem?

letters on wooden cubes
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Hey Hey it’s Fridaaaaaay!

I hope your week has gone well.

This was going to be a short one but it got away from me. I hope you find it useful. Feedback is such a powerful tool … when used for good and not for evil!

Join the conversation in the comments and pass on to someone you feel may get some benefit from it. The more the merrier! 🥳

Don’t stress!

Bill


The Steel Shavings Incident!

Growing up in Albany, Western Australia, we often existed shoeless. In the house, backyard, beach. Shoes were not the norm. Church? Yes, we wore shoes in church! And we’d visit my dad at the engineering business he owned for over 40 years. I would have been 6 or 7 at the time of the “incident”. I’d be so keen to see all the big machines (lathes, drill presses, metal saws and other stuff). I didn’t see the steel shavings on the floor around the lathes. These were curled up pieces of metal that flew off the lathes. Sharp as razor wire to the bare foot of a 6 year old, or any-year-old for that matter.

Imagine stepping on something that cuts into you and you jump from the pain of the cut and then have to land, and, in that instant (less than a second), have to decide where to land so you don’t get cut again!

I can remember still, the cotton wool … and the blood! So. Much. Blood. 🩸

So, without any fear or favour, my dad would yell, “Next time put some bloody shoes on!” Not one for showing sympathy, the old man! Feedback was great though! 👍

Feedback

Feedback is one of those topics that gets a bad rap! Mainly because when we think of feedback, we think “negative”, or the more politically correct “constructive” feedback.

Perhaps it’s also because it is uncomfortable to give negative feedback. What if they disagree? What if they don’t accept it? What if they challenge me? All awkward situations for sure.

But, like a good joke, it’s all in the delivery!

Little and Often

The key to giving better feedback is to make it like it’s almost nothing. (Almost!)

If you leave feedback for a “later time”, it loses all effect. If we delay feedback, it’s certainly easier to be challenged with “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” For which we need to have a really good answer! Which we won’t, but we’ll try. At this point I’d suggest putting the shovel down and stop digging the hole you’re in!

But if it’s little (meaning small) and often, this doesn’t happen.

Think of a situation where you need to give feedback, think of something small and not inflammatory for now. Maybe late to a meeting, late to work, forgot something.

Keep it small and follow these guidelines*:

  1. Ask permission: hey can I give you some feedback? [Sure]
  2. Describe the factswhen you’re late to the meeting
  3. Describe a consequence: we need to stop and catch you up. That’s not great!
  4. Ask for a change: can you fix that next time? [Okay]
  5. Say thanks: Thanks! 😉

That’s it! Takes less than 10 seconds and, because it’s factual, it’s hard to challenge. It also leaves the person with the autonomy of how they’re going to fix it. Have you noticed adults don’t like being told what to do? Who knew?

Why so negative?

Some of you reading this will think, people do good things too. Do we not give them feedback?

Absolutely! (See the “Homework” below.)

The same steps apply.

  1. Ask permission: hey can I give you some feedback? [Sure]
  2. Describe the factswhen you’re prepared for the meeting like you were
  3. Describe a consequence: it makes the process so much better and we achieve a lot more in the meeting! That’s awesome!
  4. Ask for a continuance: You’re leading by example. Keep it up! [Okay]
  5. Say thanks: Thanks! 🙌

Note: be specific with positive feedback as well. “Good job!” doesn’t cut it! Be observant, what did they do that was good? ← That’s what you tell them!

Here’s the problem

When we don’t provide feedback, we let it fester. Time goes by and after a time, it’s too late to give the feedback about the thing. Even if it’s good feedback. 

When that happens, as a leader or manager, I make the decision that the problem is now me, not them! I need to be better! (You may decide differently.)

We need to acknowledge that people tend to doubt themselves. Without feedback, they may decide what they did was not good enough or incorrect and change their behaviour … because you didn’t give them the feedback! 🤯

The … “Homework”

Even with such a simple process, giving feedback can be difficult. 

Start off by looking for what people do right and provide that feedback. No negative/constructive feedback, unless of course it’s mission critical. That’s your call.

Look for something good each day. Because it’s positive you can leave out the “ask permission” step but I’d advise you to use it. When you get to providing negative/constructive feedback, it’ll roll off the tongue.

Being positive consistently generates better behaviour in other areas. People like being liked and accepted. When positive feedback comes, it generates a perspective of acceptance, so other behaviours adjust to this. It’s like someone not wanting to let their boss down. It’s not 100% failsafe, people still screw up, but you may be surprised how well this works.

In the Human Synergistics Circumplex** tool, research suggests that by building one component, say Humanistic-Encouraging (1 on the circumplex), the opposite behaviour, Oppositional (7), a negative behaviour, will lessen. The opposite is also true! 😬

Summary

Determine to give feedback little and often. Look for ways to provide positive feedback. Be specific. What is it you liked? Become comfortable with giving feedback. So many times I heard people say, “The only time I get feedback is when I’ve done something wrong!” We can change that! Today!

And hey, if you do mess it up occasionally, remember … #dontstress! Go again!


*The team I sourced this from are Mark Horstman and Michael Auzenne from Manager Tools. Easily the best business podcast and website. Simple but effective, and great value for money if you’re wanting to dig into all the tools they offer, which are many. 

**I am not a qualified consultant of Human Synergistics. I was involved with their work in a company that engaged them for their expertise. Hence my knowledge of the tool.


BONUS MATERIAL

If you’ve read this far, you’re in for a treat! Personal feedback!

Yes, you can apply this to yourself! How good is that? 🙌

Rather than beat yourself up when you make a mistake, and we all know we are our own worst critic, here’s a practice you can use to break that habit.

Next time …

Using the feedback steps above, add these steps to your self talk.

  1. Hey, I was late to a meeting.
  2. When I’m late to meetings, it puts the team off, slows us all down and I am playing catch up! And stressed!
  3. Next time … I’ll [and now add what you’ll do next time to prevent being late to meetings!]

Take notice of areas you want to improve. Use this method to bring your automatic behaviours to your conscious attention and make changes to readjust your automatic behaviours.

Personal example: I’m working on my health and part of that is getting a better night’s sleep. Sometimes a glass of wine can disrupt that. So, when I’m thinking of having a wine, here’s my “Next time …”:

  1. Fact (for me, you do you): Hey, when I drink wine at night …
  2. Consequence … It disrupts my sleep …
  3. Next time … I think of having a wine at night, I’ll grab a glass of water instead.

Feedback welcome! 😉 ← see what I did there?


Is this the worst acronym in management?

R-ASBINT

Feedback is often delivered awkwardly so it deserves an awkward acronym!
Pronounced Rasbint, it lists the steps in delivering effective, ongoing feedback.

Let’s have a look

Feedback is one the most effective ways to help develop high performance. Unfortunately, people tend to shy away from giving feedback. At least, feedback that infers a gap in performance. We might call it constructive feedback but the receiver may take it as negative feedback. And so, it can be delivered poorly. It is either too infrequently. It can be too vague or it can be over emphasised … like a storm in a teacup. Sometimes the intent is to coerce or belittle and to make the deliverer of the feedback feel better.

Worse still, delays in providing feedback, can have long term effects on the individual, team and business performance. Delayed too long and it gets swept under the carpet altogether.

So why do we give feedback in the first place?

The aim of feedback is to always improve future performance.

That’s it. Nothing else. Learn from the mistake, take corrective action next time and move on. Anything else simply over complicates it. (Feel free to Agree/Disagree in the comments).

Therefore, if you’ll accept my aim of feedback, let’s look at the R-ASBINT Model.

R – Relationship: This is fundamental in all leadership/management roles. How solid is your relationship with your team or the individual? The stronger it is, the more effective the feedback will be. That is why it is separated from the acronym by the hyphen. You can do ASBINT on its own but you’ll get better results with a strong R. Be sure to build the relationship with your team and the feedback will be a lot easier.

A – Ask: This is where Manager Tools with Mark Horstman and Michael Auzanne, differ from many other models. Ask first. It may be rhetorical (see Note below) and you will give the feedback anyway, but asking first is professional and polite. This helps with the R part above. People in good relationships don’t bulldoze others. And, hey, isn’t it nice to be asked?

Keep it simple: “Hey, can I give you some feedback …?”

S – Situation: Outline the situation you’re referring to, so that the context is clear and specific. This could be really simple like: “When we have have our weekly sales meetings…”, or “When we need to submit our monthly reports…” or even,”When we’re in a meeting …”.

Behaviour: Describe the behaviour you saw. Not what you thought you saw. Be objective, factual, clear. (e.g. your report missed the deadline.) Also, remove any inflammatory emotion if the behaviour has triggered you. If you use phrases like: “When you do the thing, it p!sses me off!” you’re making it about you and not about the performance.

“When we have our weekly sales meetings and you’re late …”

“When you don’t submit your data on time …”

“When you yawn in the sales meeting …”

Impact: Describe why it’s an issue. Be clear, concise, no stories and no lecturing. (e.g. when the report is late, it delays the Board Report and other people’s schedules).

Again, I like how Mark Horstman says it at Manager Tools:

When you, did the thing, here’s what happens …”

Next Time: This (to me) is the best part. There’s no need for a long drawn out discussion. Simply say something like: “Could you fix that?” (Inferring next time), or, “Can you address that next month?” In addition, by leaving the solution with them, you remove the possibility of a “Yeah, but …”. If you tell them how to fix it, they may have a legitimate reason why your solution won’t work. (I know, how could your solution not ever work! 😉)

Thanks: Okay, maybe this is the best part. Say thanks and move on to your next task. Polite, professional, genuine.

Why it works

– It’s quick. It takes around 10 – 20 seconds in most cases.
– It’s conversational. There’s that R factor again.
– You don’t need a room to speak with them. I cringe at the times I took someone into a room (for privacy) when a quick message like this would’ve been better. Can you imagine what they must have been thinking? As well as those working with them? Were they next? (Of course, if you need a room for privacy because of the nature of the feedback, please use common sense.)
– It’s polite and professional.
– It allows autonomy on the part of the recipient. You’re not telling them how to do their job.
– What you’re asking is likely aligned to a KPI or agreed outcome.

What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?

How do you successfully deliver feedback?

Note: Is Asking really rhetorical? Actually, no! If you ask the question, the recipient has the right to decline. And we need to respect that. This reinforces why a good relationship is so important. Keep in mind when people are offered feedback, generally, their automatic response is, ”this can’t be good!” So the chance are they’ll be defensive at first. If this is the case, start by offering good feedback for a while. We need to be doing that anyway. Look for things people do well as often as possible. Make sure you comment on that.