Hard feedback? Time to care


Managing can be a schizophrenic job  – you need to set clear expectations for your people, and if they are unable to reach these expectations after due attempts to help them, you need to remove them from the role.  But at the same time, if you need to remove someone from the role, the person who has failed in helping them reach those same expectations is….you!

In other words, if you do your job right, you might have to sack someone.  And if you do your job right, you might not have to sack someone.

Think about this for a second.  It’s actually pretty weird, an oxymoronic situation if you will.   But this needs to be embraced in order to see the results you are accountable for achieving as a manager.

Think of the coach in elite sports.  They set the gameplan.  Select the players.  Tell them their role and its expectations.  Set the individual assignments.  Training is arranged and coaching given or organised.  And feedback is provided directly, unequivocally, and backed by evidence and in reference to expectations.

Why is this done?  Because the coach wants the player to reach the expectations that they have set.  They want them to succeed.  And if they don’t, they will be forced to cut them from the squad.

Apply these principles to your own management.  Make the gameplan clear to your people.  Set clear expectations by thinking about what you actually expect to see and communicating it.

Now comes the critical part –  give feedback.  Not because you are ‘on their back’, or you are a tough taskmaster.  Give feedback because you care, and you want your people to succeed in reaching your expectations.  Let them know what they need to do differently in order to get there, and provide the coaching or training they need.  And help them do it.   Not by doing their job for them, but by doing everything you can to help them do their job.

Caring for your people is not about letting them off easy, or working out the perfect way to give feedback so as to not upset them.   It’s about caring enough to set clear expectations and helping them perform by telling them how they are performing.  This is managing, the real acts of leadership that build trust with your team.  And trust is the direct line to high performance.

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