Stretch Employee Talent Equally with These Proven Processes
Feedback is a Gift
I remember when I first heard this phrase. I was 28, halfway through my corporate career, and thought the sky was the limit. Then, I got an email from my boss with the subject line “Feedback is a gift.” The body of the email did not feel like a gift. It was a long list of critiques about my presentation that I did not want to hear.
Oftentimes, this type of feedback exchange does not happen. Why?
My boss was a White man a few years older than me. I was a young woman. We’re far more likely to give feedback to people that look like us, behave like us, or those we feel more comfortable around. My boss was doing me a favor. His feedback was helping me understand how I could grow and get better. By depriving people different than you this feedback, you are unintentionally holding them back. Without feedback, we don’t know how to learn and grow or how to get better.
Structure feedback with the SBI Model
This is a gem of a tool that helped me so much as a people leader in Corporate America. When you go to give feedback, rather than make it personal, tell the person what you see and what you would like to see more of, or less of.
Enter the SBI model. It stands for situation-behavior-impact. You see, when you explain the who, what, where, when, of the situation to jog someone’s memory (especially if it’s been awhile since it happened), package it with the behaviors you observed (things they said or did), and layer in the potential negative impacts of those behaviors, the person has no choice but to listen. It has to come from a genuine place of caring for it to work positively.
Challenge with Care
Kim Scott coined this phrase in her book, Radical Candor. She has since written a book on workplace inclusion, Just Work, that I cannot recommend enough. To challenge with care means to challenge someone because you care about them. If you see something that someone cannot see in themselves or if someone doesn’t have the viewpoint that you have, you need to tell them. They are likely unaware of a behavior that might be causing a negative impact.
By channeling good intention and sharing vulnerably with someone, you show that you care about them, and they’re far more likely to listen because it shows it comes from a good, genuine place.
Some feedback conversation starters to consider:
- “I noticed that you did X. I’d like to share some ideas with you about how you could do more of Y and Z.”
- “I think you might get a better result if you tried a new approach. Would you be open to hearing some ideas?”
- “I want to share something with you, and honestly, it is hard for me to share but I am sharing because I care about you. Is that okay?”
Asking for permission and exemplifying vulnerability and empathy goes a long way in having a positive conversation. In the end, you’re leveling the playing field by giving everyone equal access to your feedback that can help them be better and to grow. This is especially true for diverse talent – that community is far less likely to get challenging feedback.
Coach Others Different than You
To stretch talent as an intentional ally, coaching is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. At Next Pivot Point, we like the GROW model of coaching. Like SBI, it’s an acronym that helps prepare for a tough conversation. The framework includes goal, reality, options, and will. All necessary parts of a successful coaching conversation.
Contrary to popular belief, coaches don’t have all the answers. Instead, they ask open questions, listen actively, and promote what I call self-discovery. They provide space for people to share things that are hard and that if they go unaddressed, will have the potential to hold them back.
Again we’re far more likely to coach people like us, and not those different than us. Try coaching a person of color if you’re a White person or a male if you’re a female or someone in the LGBTQ+ community if you are not in that Community. Chances are you’ll learn and grow just as much as those you’re striving to be an ally for.