Hearing does not equate to understanding. Information does not equal knowledge. Feedback does not mean there will be growth. You only have to look at people who knowingly continue in destructive habits, like smoking, to know people do not always do the ‘right thing’ or even what is best for them. Effective feedback occurs when this is fully understood - sometimes people don't want to hear what they don't want to hear. This is often referred to as a fixed mindset.
“There is no failure. Only feedback.” – Robert Allen
Feedback is woven into the very fabric of existence. Your brain is wired to receive, process, learn, grow and develop using feedback. You learnt to walk, talk and ride a bike by processing information received through various attempts and adapting until you mastered your new skill.
What do you understand by a “feedback loop”? Depending on your personal reference points you might think of the noise created when a sound loop exists between an audio input and an audio output. You might think of client feedback. Employer feedback. You might think of the results you get from an analytics report or the ‘feedback reviews’ left on social media. Feedback incorporates all of these and more. Feedback gives us information. Like all information however, it is only as good as the action we take as a result of having it.
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk
Do you have a feedback loop? Is feedback part of your culture, or is communication restricted to the “no news is goods news” approach? Done well, feedback can revitalise teams and change lives. Ken Blanchard is often quoted saying “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” I first remember thinking deeply about feedback after reading the book “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The speed of feedback helps us get into our flow/zone/optimum state. Who do you have giving you feedback and how quickly does it come?
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates
Over the next few articles I wanted to explore feedback. Communication ALWAYS comes up when discussing teams and teamwork. Communication is a huge topic. Feedback is one element that has best potential to improve communication. “Catching people doing things right” is one of my favourite starting points. I concur strongly with Ed Batista - “Make feedback normal. Not a performance review.”
What is your best tip for effective feedback? I have collated my best ideas around feedback and will put together enough for a month of feedback tips and quotes. Please do share generously and we will spread the goodness.
Receiving feedback does not always feel great but it is necessary if we are to grow and improve. Two quotes to leave you with: “Knowledge rests not upon truth alone, but upon error also.” – Carl Jung. Be willing to take risks and use the feedback to grow.
As Carol Dweck says in her excellent book on Mindset - “In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here’s a chance to grow.”
I look forward to getting your ideas for effective feedback.
What are you capable of? Do you ever dare to imagine just what you are capable of when you put your mind to something? How often do you operate at your highest level of capabilities?
There is an inspiring (and challenging) quote by Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
To plan or not to plan - that was the question being grappled with. On one side was the argument that planning never worked and on the other side that you need a plan to get where you are going. Air New Zealand came to the rescue - “I can go online and buy a ticket for for 8 months from today and they give me a flight number, time and even seat number! They don’t know what is going to happen on that day with weather, technical issues, staff, volcanoes, or anything, but they plan to deliver!” It was settled. A plan would be written.
“But how will we ensure WE deliver?” - This is where I was called in. Taking action is a favourite topic of mine and I thought I would share 4 key drivers to taking action using the PLAN acronym.
Prioritise. There will always be more that needs to be done than time or people available. Know where you add the most value and work in that space. What will deliver the highest ROI? The 80/20 rule is well applied here - aim to maximise return on invested effort and time and resource. Knowing what needs to be be done by when helps make choices under pressure – focus on “yield” - that which gives the highest returns.
Leverage. You cannot do it all. Once you have prioritised what needs to be done then leverage your resources. Know where you add the most value and delegate, outsource and leave the rest. Leverage your time - Work to your energy levels, block time-out to focus on finishing important work. (NB - The word is “finish” - don’t leave it. 80% done is not done - laser like focus delivers 100% finished tasks)
Action. Plans do not fail - people fail to act, receive feedback and react to the results so they can alter plans as needed. Action is what gets results. Action moves you forward so you can see what is working and what is not. Action also needs ‘Awareness’ - if it is not working then ACT! The famous "Deming Cycle" includes these steps Plan-Do-Check-Act/Adjust.
Now. It used to be that “Big beats small.” Now there is a new playing field “Fast beats slow”. Do you have a culture of action? Do you talk lots or actually ‘walk-the-talk’? Is there a sense of urgency within your team? How do you notify each other - Are you in real time? How quickly every team member know what they need to?
Planning does work when you work the plan! Your mindset towards your plans affects your approach and actions - if we can help let us know.
“Success leaves clues” is one for my favourite quotes from “Think & Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. When I want to learn something, I look to people who have done it well and the ‘clues’ they have left and then turn those into ‘keys’ to help others unlock their potential.
Public speaking is one of these areas. For a recent Manawatu Chamber of Commerce “Lunch & Learn” session, I presented on “How to do a great 1 hour presentation” using 5 KEYS. The feedback would indicate this is a topic many people could do with some ‘keys’ on.
Can you sell?
What one skill would help you sell more?
How much could a core sales skill be worth to you and your organisation?
Provocative questions and statements are a great way to stir people up and heighten engagement. One of my favourite questions is, “What is the most important department in this business?” In a world of equality and ‘equal rights’ etc, that can get people quite animated! Then I state, and argue, that it must be sales because if you do not sell something no other role is required.
Irrespective of your stance every business acknowledges they need sales. Who's responsible for sales in your business? Do you have a “sales mindset” that defines your culture or is sales the domain of one or two individuals or a department?
Of all sales confidence killers, there is one to watch for. Its danger lies in the fact that it is so common, people become comfortable in its presence. It is easy to fix. Yet it remains and festers over years, through companies, permeating and draining teams until they succumb to such normality that they do not stand apart. What is this crippling malaise that brings such despair? A lack of an answer to one simple question.
When I want anything to do with cell phones I go to see Michael at 2 Degrees in the Palmy Plaza. I often have to wait to see him as he is the most popular sales rep. It is worth the wait as he “knows his stuff”. Can you relate to this - having a sales rep worth waiting for, your own “go-to” person?
How many people would see you as the “go-to” person?
Internal conflict hurts sales.
I am a production manager by training. After over 13 years in the role I still can vividly recall frequent orders to make huge quantities of product with impossible timelines. It did not make me like sales people. Or the sales department.
Do your internal teams spend more time fighting or one-upping each other than working together to serve the customer?
“Build confidence in every facet of your organisation - it makes it so much easier to sell.” - Mike Clark
Are you destroying your sale reps' chances of closing sales?
It is easy to do - damage their confidence.
The truth is, selling is easy. For many people who see sales as something sleazy or pushy, this statement seems laughable. As I have written about on many occasions, sales is a process and the better this is understood the easier it is to sell (or more accurately help a client get what they want or need). There is another truth - “Sales starts in your head” and in order to sell well, we need to believe in what we sell. Time and again this basic truth remains “Confidence sells”.
How does your thinking affect who you are? How you perceive life? What decisions you make? Obviously your thinking is the key factor in all of these. What was the last challenge you consciously remember wrestling with?
Word of mouth referrals remains one of the highest lead generating marketing tools of the current day. The busier we get, the more we look to friends, family and trusted referrers to help us make quick decisions. We do not have the time or the tolerance for a bad experience. The power of referrals can be seen in one of the most popular customer surveys - the Net Promoter Score (NPS). One question is asked after each interaction “Based on latest experience in dealing with us how likely are you to recommend us to a friend?”
Experience is becoming the the new accepted expectation with the benchmark tracking ever upwards. People want it quicker, easier, more personalised and intuitive, more, more more (ideally for less!) Technology can help. Paywave makes it quicker, self checkout makes it faster and more convenient, augmented reality helps us make right choices, apps allow us to engage on the go all the while prompting with suggestions and options. With the growth in AI we will soon have driverless cars and home help robots. Do we need people? Do we need teams?
I argue a resounding “Yes!” People buy from people. Notice the increase in online chat boxes? Notice how Amazon is ‘growing’ into bricks and mortar? More than just reaching out to customers in a tactile, interactive way, Amazon is investing billions in creating a workplace that will be environmentally friendly and allow team members to engage and interact in line with the “Day 1” mantra. (If you have never Googled Amazon Seattle offices, it is a sight to behold).
What about your team? Your culture? Your company focus and beliefs around the customer? Are they written up and clearly understood by everyone? Does engaging with your team “feel” different, is it “Wow those guys are amazing! They care so much”?
What experience do you want your customers to have? Many organisations have never considered this deeply enough to create a team focus and mantra that seeks to delight customers. Some have - Harrods, Zappos, Disney - and these stand out. Consider the below thoughts and questions, and work with your team to see how you can stand out:
What experience do we want customers to have?
What would we like people to say about us?
What have our competitors done so well even we hear about it & how can we go one better?
On a scale of 0-10 (where 10 is high) where would we rate our team culture?
On a scale of 0-10 (where 10 is high) where would we rate our customer experience?
How can we move closer to 10 on these two scales?
How can we engage our customers more effectively? (Asking this questions while running a kitchen showroom saw us install the only fully working showroom kitchen which occasionally brought a chef in to demonstrate and offered to clients to use to raise funds for schools. We also baked bread everyday and had fresh brewed coffee available)
How could we add more value to the customer while they were with us?
How could we and value and keep in touch after they leave? (Via social media, interesting newsletters, surveys, competitions, etc)
How can we encourage them to come back?
How do we get referrals?
How do we “WOW” them so we are the topic of the next dinner conversation?
If you would like some outside input or help in crafting your ideal customer experience do get in touch - we would love to help. Remember, customers are the lifeblood of any organisations. Create a heart of service that keeps that lifeblood healthy and flowing and business will be both pleasurable and profitable.
Every business has a point of difference (POD) – the people that make the team. A company’s ability to engage it’s people and enhance the strengths they bring, underlines the culture within the team. When people feel valued, seen, acknowledged and part of something bigger, they are more engaged. Woven into the ‘fabric’ of our being is a need to be seen and heard (Which is why solitary confinement is such a tough sentence). People need to have purpose and to know that they matter and are making a (positive) difference.
“How many of you know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that if you exercised 20 mins every day you would think clearer, feel better about yourself, be healthier, be more productive and focused and, in all probability, live longer?” This is a question I often ask during training and all hands go up. Then I ask, “So how many of you actually exercise for 20 mins a day?” Less than a tenth of hands usually go up.
What about you? Do you exercise daily? If not - why?
Have you set some goals for the year? Are you aiming to get and do more? Have you resolved to be more? The call of many at the start of the year is often, “Work harder, do more, call more, sell more and you will be more successful with even more to show for it all.”
This perpetual drive is what keeps companies growing and we are encouraged to apply this to our personal lives. The challenge is that all this ‘growth’ needs something to feed it – growing companies feel growth pains in their cash flow, families feel it in less time and financial stress, individuals often compromise their health and relationships. What are you prepared to give up to achieve your goals? What is the cost and will it be worth it? What have you put in place to ensure you can sustain any growth plans? Many people plan, hope and dream but without a well-rounded, sustaining approach the sacrifice and/or the pressure proves too much.
Would you be surprised to know that most new year’s resolutions are forfeited by 15th January?
Today, as I finish this article it is January the 15th and already I have heard so many people talking of ‘yet-another-resolution’ not met – often parked in the “good intentions” basket that will be reconsidered next New Year!
Whatever goals you have set for yourself this year (and even if you have set no goals) if you do not take care of yourself, all that you do could well be for nought. To be able to enjoy life, contribute to a family, a team, a company you need to be able to do so – i.e. Not stressed, snappy, irritable, depressed, burning out. How do you ensure you are looking after yourself?
Self-care is hardly a new concept and yet the practice of it is often dismissed as being aligned with stereotypical hippie/new age people looking for alternative freedom from living in reality.
Many people do not truly value their health/relationships/job/freedom until they no longer have it.
It is possible to find a balance and look after yourself without dressing in flowery clothes or creating Zen gardens to meditate in during lunch times. (BTW if that is your ‘buzz’ – go for gold!) What is important in your life? What do you want to be known and remembered for? Are you on track now?
My first book of this year was “Soul Keeping” by John Ortberg. One of my favourite quotes from the book is, “Routine eats will-power for breakfast”. As I finished the book I read a LinkedIn post “How I went from this to a mental asylum.” The combination of both gave me my topic for the first quarter of this year – Self Care, Team Care, Client Care – we need to do it in this order.
So how do you care for yourself? Do you have a cliché answer – exercise, reading, time out, walks, time with loved ones, etc? The difference between cliché and reality can often be found in a truly life giving routine that ensures you stay fresh, sharp, vibrant, passionate, connected and able to care? As with a lot of life, the theory is often easier than the action – how do you manage it? Please share how you exercise self-care (or how you plan to exercise self-care).
I will explore self-care more next week and include the feedback I get from this week. Until then here’s to your success
Can you relate to going on a training session, or going to a conference, or maybe even having a great internal meeting and coming away with action points. Or perhaps more accurately described as a list of ‘good intentions!’
Action, of course, is reflected in doing something - Action Changes Things.
In my field as a trainer, I know that I am just sharing information and information is only as good as the action people take as a result of having it.
Herbert Spencer said it well, “The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” So, how can you be more effective at taking action?
There are, of course, many things you can do. First and foremost is to start with yourself and then to surround yourself with action-orientated people - create a culture of action. Do you have a culture in your organisation where people trust each other to act? Do you have an accountability system or partner? These can help hold you to the important actions rather than being swept away in the whirlwind of the urgent.
A few additional thoughts around taking action:
As a trainer I love to ask "How many of you have ever been on a training session and, giving the trainer and content their due, it was good and you left with good intentions but you failed to implement?"
Almost inevitably every hand goes up. I then ask' "What is going to make today's training any different?"
There are 2 roles in a training session. Mine is provide pertinent, relevant information in an engaging and palatable way. Yours is to take down that which applies and then act on it. "Information is only as good as the action that you take as a result of having it." Here are my 5 ACTION suggestions to keep you moving, learning, growing and succeeding:
A - Accountability. When we know someone is going to check on us we are far more likely to do something. Pick the people you surround yourself with carefully (even if you need to look outside your team). Aim for people who are not so "nice" that you know they will not effectively hold you to account. Pick people who stretch you and expect the best from you - who insist that you live up to your personal standards of integrity - When you say you will do something, you get it done!
C - Communication is the oxygen of any organisation. Communicate your goals to the relevant team members/people. Track your goals. Speak up early when you need help and/or are going off course. Communicate with people when they ask you to do things that are not important - avoid the "yes" trap! Successful people know that saying "yes" to something is saying "no" to something else. Let people know what is important for you to do. Think about where do you add the most value and do that! Feedback to your team - feedback is food of champions and ensures greater levels of buy-in and understanding.
T - Time is finite. Make time every day to work on the most important things. I am a huge fan of 'time zoning' - scheduling your tasks in your calendar. When you communicate with your team that you need 30mins-2hrs uninterrupted to achieve "x" it can be a huge motivator, and the focused time can allow you to get into your 'flow'. Look to use your smaller chunks of time better - a highly focused 10-30 mins can achieve a lot more than a interrupted morning.
I - Intentional focus is vital. Have a plan. Know what it is that you want to achieve before you start. Learn to stop after a task to be clear on what to do next. Ask if youneed to do it. Value your time - Be intentional. Interruptions are the thief of focus and destroyer of productivity, and a lack of focus attracts interruptions.
O - Ongoing action is an amazingly powerful tool. You are the sum of your habits. Getting organised and establishing a routine can be immensely powerful. Could you partner up with someone to achieve a goal - walk 15mins every lunch time, call 5 clients every morning before 10am, plan your following activity every night before leaving work. Regular action done consistently yields large results. Examine your daily habits - which of them are constructive and which ones could do with changing?
N - Now is the time. No excuses - you can make an excuse or make a way! Action is a motivator. Just start.
We look back to learn. We look forward in hope. We live in the present. Watch your mindset as you act. Live. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Nelson Mandela put it well, "I never fail. I either win or I learn".
Take your learning, apply your learning and succeed!
Earthquakes pack a powerful reality punch. Standing in various doorways, calling kids out of bed, feeling the ground rolling under your feet and watching things fall over, while every hanging thing sways dangerously back and forth, reminds one very abruptly of one’s mortality. It is doubly sobering to then see how lucky you have been when pictures show houses looking more like a war zone with roads and railway lines bent and torn.
I often teach that “You are who you say you are, until you or someone else proves it otherwise.” By this I mean that each person and business get the chance to think about how they want to be perceived. Perception is a very powerful thing.
For each and every person, their perception is their reality until they have a paradigm shift.
This year at ThinkRight, we have put a real effort into making sure that we invest in ourselves in terms of training. You might remember some blogs back we mentioned how our team is expected to study for 45 minutes a day as that is part of the ethos that we are growing as part of the learning culture in our organisation. We began going on training courses. We’ve even taken this a step further by starting an inspiring video links page on our website as an easy reference for videos that we’ve found that are useful onto our website and taking courses.
School started again this week in New Zealand. We are into the last term and, for two of our girls, that signals the last term of intermediate. The arrival of the fourth term has been accompanied by some wild spring weather. It is all part of the season. Time moves forward – unrelenting and seemingly not caring at all about the day to day activities that make up our lives. A poem from my last year in primary school encapsulates this well: