7 Simple Steps to Shattering Stagnation

Amanda Dreher - Friday, January 27, 2017


Is your team continually meeting status quo and upholding tried and true norms, but feeling stuck? It may be time to initiate change.

I know, I said the "C" word, but don't go running just yet. "Change" has gotten a bad reputation. Organizations and leaders alike often see change as a necessary evil and something to be avoided until it is forced by circumstance. When given the choice of initiating change and assuming the potential risks that come with it or maintaining a current familiar path, often the familiar will win out. However, take a look at today's cutting edge organizations -- the ones at the forefront of their industries. They are not hiding from change. In fact, they are embracing it! They are intentional about incorporating healthy change into their culture and are leveraging the innovation, energy and momentum to become leaders in their fields. They are shattering stagnation. 


In an article by Forbes, The World's Most Innovative Companies of 2016, among the top 100 were such recognizable names as Tesla, Under Armour, Amazon, Netflix and others. There are also many names you might be less familiar with such as Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Naver, Rakuten, AmerisourceBergen, and others. What do these companies all have in common? They embrace change. They innovate. They shatter stagnation.


Below is a simple seven step process to help your team initiate healthy change and shatter stagnation in your organization:


1. Analyze

Look carefully at challenges or stagnant places your team is facing. Leave your preconceived notions behind. Look at things with fresh eyes. Take this opportunity to learn -- about where you are currently, about where the industry is and about where you would like to go. Collect as much information as possible. This could be through conducting focus groups, taking surveys, or interviewing current and potential clients or customers. This might also be through attending industry trainings or conventions and studying current trends. This is your chance to learn about what is happening internally and externally.


2. Collaborate

Form a group of people who represent each team involved in the process or initiative being discussed. It is also good to represent differing viewpoints from various leadership levels. The more well rounded the input the better. This is the time to take all you learned in the "Analyze" step and combine it with experience and perspective. Create ideas and strategies to transform your learning into potential changes to implement.  Make this a safe environment to hear and explore all ideas.


3. Simplify

Take the ideas generated throughout the process thus far, particularly in the collaboration stage, and use them to formulate a streamlined, simplified, clear plan. You will have undoubtedly developed numerous possibilities by this point in the process. Now is the time to determine which ideas make the most sense for your team. In filtering through the options ask several questions such as: Which ideas fit your vision and mission? Which align with your current strategy? Which will take you where you are trying to go? Which fit your desired corporate culture? Which make sense in terms of time and money? By the end of this step you should have developed a clear streamlined plan.


4. Communicate

Once the new process is determined, it is important to clearly and consistently communicate the reason for the change, the goal of the change and the details of implementation. It is important to gain buy-in from all levels of the team. In order to do that, you must be clear and open with information. Remember, by this point you have likely been considering this change and the reasons for it for months. However, not everyone on your team has. Give them time to process. Help them understand their role. Give them opportunities to respond, give feedback and ask questions. 


5. Implement

This is the stage when the team involved will be putting into practice the items that till now have just been ideas and theories. It is bringing into practice the new ideas. This is where the"rubber meets the road," so to speak. This is also where many teams get stuck. Talking about a change is one thing, but acting on the change is another. Following the plan you so clearly communicated in the previous step, help the team make the necessary adjustments.
Once you have implemented the change, take time to learn and make adjustments as needed. You may notice that ideas on paper might need a little tweaking when put into action. This is an important step in the process. 


6. Standardize

Following any adjustments, begin to standardize the process and role it out on a larger scale. This is where the change becomes fully integrated into the day to day. This will likely take some time, but you can help your team by demonstrating your commitment to the new. As you lead by confidently stepping into the change, your team will follow. 


7. Celebrate

Remember to celebrate the dedication, hard work and accomplishments of the team. This step is easy to overlook, but don't. Your team needs to know that they are seen and appreciated. This step can take on numerous forms, depending on your corporate culture. Regardless of what it looks like, be sure to use this time to appreciate and inspire your team. 


Don't settle for status quo. Don't get stuck in the norm. Use these seven simple steps to shatter stagnation in your organization.


FAQ's of Distance Mentoring

Amanda Dreher - Wednesday, November 30, 2016


What is distance mentoring?

Distance mentoring is just as it sounds, mentoring across a distance. Some of the reasons this type of mentoring occurs are: a) one or both mentoring participants travel frequently; b) the mentoring partners live/work in different areas of the city, state, country, or world, or; 3) the person with the desired expertise/learning does not reside in close proximity.


Is it really mentoring?

Yes, the true power and effectiveness of mentoring comes from consistent accountability and encouragement given to mentees as they work on personal and professional goals. Mentors can hold mentees accountable and encourage them over a distance. If the mentoring pair has a clear commitment to the expectations and goals of the arrangement and is dedicated to promoting a progressive relationship, distance mentoring can be a powerful learning tool.


Is it a last option or a valid strategy?

In the past, many mentoring pairs saw this as a last option—it was the only way to create the learning situation they desired if they did not reside near their mentoring partner. Now, many see that distance mentoring offers a host of new learning opportunities and helpful/strategic relationships to explore. Since the number and type of mentors and mentees we can have is limited only by our time constraints and ability to commit to the relationship, distance mentoring is being recognized as an opportunity for more than one learning experience.


How time consuming is it?

This depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you want to learn one skill – that is relatively simple. An informal mentoring relationship lasting only a few meetings is appropriate. If you are seeking mentoring for a more complicated skill set, character development, or work/life integration support then a longer and more regularly scheduled situation is more fitting. The most important aspect to mapping out the time commitment is to discuss the goals thoroughly and set clear expectations regarding length, time span, frequency and intensity of distance meetings.


Can I really build a relationship with my mentoring partner over a distance?

Because communication is the strongest face to face, it is helpful to meet in person with your mentoring partner at least once during your relationship. But if this is not possible, follow best practices for building relationship and communicating across distance. (See the article 6 Best Practices for Mentoring Across Distance for additional insight). Practices like using video conferencing options whenever possible, being prepared for your interactions, engaging regularly, etc. will support a strong distance mentoring relationship.


Top 3 Benefits and Challenges of Distance Mentoring

Amanda Dreher - Sunday, November 27, 2016


Distance mentoring, or mentoring without consistent face-to-face meetings, is becoming more than just a necessary evil. Companies are now seeing the benefits of this paradigm and are crafting strategies to make the most of the advantages. They are finding it to be a potentially powerful strategy for helping people develop. The best person to be your mentor may not be in close proximity. With the advantages of today’s electronic media, we can access relationships and learning that was not possible years ago. Distance mentoring can be an effective strategy particularly for global companies.


Distance mentoring has a number of benefits. Consider the following:

  • 1. It opens up new pairing opportunities: If proximity isn’t necessary, then you are not limited to who you can have for a mentoring partner.
  • 2. Lessons restrictions of location, time: Being able to use electronic media for your interactions opens up locations and times that you would not have if the interaction was always face to face. If you travel, or work odd hours, you can still reach out and communicate with your mentoring partner.
  • 3. Allows for more thought on interactions: Since communication does not have to be real time, there are opportunities to be thoughtful about your reactions and input. You can say things the way you want, with thought and consideration.



    Understanding and addressing the challenges of distance mentoring will add to its success. Address these early:

  • 1. Building trust: Without all the non-verbal cues that can be informational in face-to-face meetings, it is more challenging to establish trust. To cover this, be extra conscious of communication, be authentic and honest, and avoid any trust busters.
  • 2. Keeping up momentum: Make sure that you have scheduled your interactions and electronic meetings for the time commitment. Remember to celebrate successes along the way. Address frustrations and challenges quickly so they do not slow down progress. Try to vary your meeting agenda so meetings don’t become too predictable. Remember to share personal stories to continue to build your relationship.• 

  • 3. Communication challenges: Be careful with making assumptions on written communication.

Assume the best and if something does not seem right address it quickly. Verify your communication and make sure that what you meant to say is what your partner understood (and that you understand the meaning behind what your partner communicates to you).


Yes, there are challenges to developing a mentoring relationship through the span of distance. However, these are greatly overshadowed by the benefits that can be realized through distance mentoring.

6 Best Practices for Mentoring Across Distance

Amanda Dreher - Sunday, November 27, 2016

Before you attempt distance mentoring, check your beliefs and feelings about this strategy. If you’re stalling, you may need to make a paradigm shift in your thoughts and emotions. Choose to recognize distance mentoring as a viable strategy, build enthusiasm for it, and find ways to maximize its benefits and reduce its disadvantages.

  • 1. Set expectations: Agree on a regular meeting time, put it on your calendar and keep your commitment to it. Discuss what ways and how often you will communicate, expectations for confidentiality, how you will give encouragement and feedback, and what the objectives for the relationship are.
  • 2. Communicate, communicate, communicate: Communication is critical and yet may be a stumbling block for those who enter this new challenge without intentionality. Floating along will not be an effective strategy. Taking charge will. Black and white words carry the color of your perceptions and therefore may not complete the communication with its full intended meaning when communicating only through email, text, and LMS systems. We have to err on the side of “over communication.” When possible use real time communication.
  • 3. Cultivate trust early: Be intentional about doing things to build trust. It is difficult for learning to occur if the mentee does not feel the mentoring relationship is safe. To build trust, meet more often at the beginning, use visual interaction whenever possible (e.g. facetime, video conference, SKYPE). Take time to get to know each other on a personal level by sending pictures, telling stories and being authentic and vulnerable. Listen without agenda. Encourage whenever you can.
  • 4. Take on a learning stance: Instead of assuming things about your mentee/mentor, show genuine curiosity about your partner. Ask open ended questions and really listen to the response.
  • 5. Discuss cultural differences: If there are cultural differences, discuss them up front. Talk about what the best ways are to build trust, how you feel best giving/receiving feedback and the best ways to encourage and hold accountable, etc.
  • 6. Create structure that works: Discuss early what structure your interactions should take. Adjust as necessary. Consider making this simple processes a consistent part of your mentoring meetings.
    • a. Send an agenda and progress on goals in advance. Mentees take the lead in preparing and sending these prior to the meeting.
    • b. Turn off computers and cell phones that are not in use for the meeting; remove other distractions.
    • c. Call/login (or be ready to receive the call/login) exactly on time.
    • d. Review progress from last session, discuss successes and challenges. Plan for new sets of activities to work on for the next mentoring period.
    • e. Take notes and date them. File them so they stay together and where both the mentee and mentor have access.
    • f. Send a summary of agreements and next steps.

How to Find a Mentor: 7 Simple Steps

Amanda Dreher - Wednesday, October 19, 2016


A common concern many people have about mentoring is finding a mentor. This issue may seem irrelevant if you are participating in a company sponsored mentoring initiative where you will be paired up with a mentor or mentee, but the truth is, even if you are “paired” up now, mentoring is something you should do in all areas of your life throughout your entire life. There will be times when you will need to know how to ask someone to mentor you. Finding a mentor is not difficult, however, it does take some intentionality, and yes, you may be turned down, but don’t let apprehensions prevent you from pursuing this learning opportunity. The benefits you will receive are too vast to pass it up.


Here are a 7 simple steps you can follow to help you find a mentor.

1.  Decide to be intentional. Don’t just sit back and expect someone to come to you. Choose to put your desire for specific learning into action through the following steps.

  • 2.  Know your developmental need. In what areas do you want to grow? What do you want to learn? What are some areas of weakness that you would like to address? What strengths do you want to build upon? Do you need skill mentoring or help with character development issues?
  • 3.  Recognize advantages. Reflect on what the advantages are of having a mentor. There are just certain things that are better learned form another person than from a book or manual (in fact I think most things are!). For instance, if you decide your developmental need is to increase your conflict management skills, then write down a list of advantages for finding someone to mentor you in this area. Maybe you’ll be able to better work with a co-worker that you’ve bumped heads against since the first day she joined your team. Learning to address conflict in a healthy way will calm your temper which will help you think more clearly while you are working throughout the day. This will make you more productive and freed up to do your best work. Listing advantages like these will help motivate you to find the mentor you need.
  • 4.  Set goals to address the need. For example, If you want to become a better proposal writer, you may want to set goals for learning best practices, increasing your grammatical skill, and understanding customer motivational behavior. Knowing these goals can help you identify people who you can learn these skills from. If you are not quite sure what steps to take to address your developmental need, you still need to be specific in the assistance you are looking for so that the potential mentor can evaluate if they can be of help. Be specific on why you have chosen them in particular to help you. “I have watched you work with those around you showing patience as well as passion for your job. These two qualities will be helpful to me as I work with you to begin discerning what goals to set to address my developmental need.”
  • 5.  Observe people. Look for someone who would be a good fit for you. Remember the characteristics we discussed in the last module that make an effective mentor. Use this list as a guide. An effective mentor is:
  • - Experienced
  • - Patient
  • - Encouraging
  • - Discerning
  • - Curious and inquisitive
  • Also, Observe what they do specifically that you could learn.
  • 6.  Connect. Now is the time when you just have to do it. Walk up to them and ask. And, when you approach someone to ask if they’ll be a mentor, be specific! When people know specifically what you want to be trained on, they can better evaluate if they can help.
  • 7.  Verify duration. Make sure you both understand how long your mentoring relationship will be and that you both can commit to the time.


Now it’s your turn. Write down your plan to address each of these 7 steps. Choose to be intentional today.


41 Reasons You Need Mentoring in Your Organization

Amanda Dreher - Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mentoring is increasingly becoming a critical component to any successful organization. In fact, mentoring initiatives contribute to corporate cultures characterized by increased employee engagement, retention levels, productivity, collaboration and much more. Investing in your people through mentoring benefits the organization both now and in the future. Let's take a look at 41 reasons you should have a mentoring initiative in your organization.


Benefits for Mentees:


  • 1.  support in attaining skills/ knowledge/ attitudes/ culture awareness
    • 2.  encouragement for faster learning and growth—both personal and professional
    • 3.  increased confidence
    • 4.  access to role models
    • 5.  greater exposure and visibility
    • 6.  increased feeling of being more valued as an employee
    • 7.  improved communication and expanded network


Benefits for Mentors:

  • 8.  learning
  • 9.  expansion of sphere of influence
  • 10.  reinforcement of accomplishments
  • 11.  opportunity to reciprocate
  • 12.  recognition
  • 13.  focused investment on one person
  • 14.  improved communication and people skills
  • 15.  opportunity to change another’s life


Benefits for Organizations:

  • 16.  gives a recruiting edge
  • 17.  speeds identification, development and retention of talent
  • 18.  supports organizational commitment to employee personal growth and organizational contribution
  • 19.  improves communication and reduction of silos
  • 20.  supports knowledge, culture, values and strategy transfer for greater productivity
  • 21.  encourages a learning culture
  • 22.  increases loyalty and retention with more motivated and engaged employees
  • 23.  promotes a greater sense of community and more inclusion with diversity
  • 24.  advances succession planning
  • 25.  uses the resources you already have


Mentoring Statistics:

  • 26.  Retention rates are higher for mentees (72%) and for mentors (69%) than non-mentoring participants (49%). (Sun Microsystems)
  • 27.  When peer mentoring is done effectively the “average engagement capital” can increase by 66%. (Corporate Leadership Council, 2011)
  • 28.  People are 77% more likely to stay in a job if they are in a mentoring relationship—particularly your younger generations. 35% of employees who do not receive regular mentoring look for another job within 12 months. (Emerging Workforce study by Spherion, 2012)
  • 29.  83% of professionals would like to be involved in a mentoring program, yet only 29% are in workplaces that offer them. (Robert Walters Recruiting)
  • 30.  Companies with low engagement had an average operating margin that was 32.7% lower than companies with engaged employees. (“Engaging for Success”)
  • 31.  When peer mentoring is done well the average engagement capital can increase by 66%. (Corporate Leadership Council)
  • 32.  Mentoring increases learning retention: With mentoring managerial productivity increased by 88% verses 24% with training alone. (ASTD)
  • 33.  Mentoring encourages beneficial diversity: Diversity training has been proven to have negative effects. (TIME) Only mentoring teaches people how to practically work across differences. (MLT)
  • 34.  Mentoring helps keep valuable employees: Over 40% of internal job moves involving high potential employees end in failure. (Harvard Business Review). Losing employees costs 100-300% of the replaced employee’s salary. (Society of Human Resource Management)
  • 35.  Mentoring fills your leadership pipeline: Employees who received mentoring were promoted 5 times more often than those who did not. (Forbes). Mentors were 6 times more likely to be promote. (Forbes)
  • 36.  1 out of every 5 women does not have a mentor. (Source LinkedIn from Everwise)
  • 37.  According to SHRM, baby boomers are set to retire, taking a massive amount of skills and knowledge with them. (SHRM)
  • 38.  Sixty-two percent of employers at Fortune 1000 companies believe future retirements will result in skilled labor shortages over the next five years.         (HireVue)
  • 39.  Seventy-five percent of millennials want a mentor, and 58 percent of them turn to baby boomers first for advice. (HireVue)
  • 40.  By the year 2020, there will be a possible worldwide shortage of 13 percent of highly skilled, college-educated employees, equaling around 38 to 40 million workers. (Dobbs and Madgavkar)

41.  Eight out of ten organizations told a ManPowerGroup survey they are “taking the steps to grow the talent pool and ensure access to the rights skills that will help drive business results." (ManPowerGroup)


Empowering the Generations

Amanda Dreher - Tuesday, September 13, 2016



Developing a deeper appreciation for other generations is an essential strategy for empowering individuals and creating a learning atmosphere. It is critical to empower and encourage each generation to contribute what only they can. Below are some suggestions for working across generational distinctions.


- Ask them to share their experiences.

- Verbally show respect for their experience and wisdom.

- Put them in positions where they can be social.

- Have them mentor your younger generations.


Baby Boomers:

- Show respect for the work they have done and the experiences they have had.

- Rather than just giving your opinion without solicitation, ask Boomers if they would mind hearing your perspective.

- Help Boomers prepare for their exit, to leave well, leave a legacy, and leave for something they deem important.


Generation X (Gen Xers):

- In working with Xers to promote a climate of innovation in the face of constant change and ambiguity, in her book What's Next, Gen X? Keeping Up, Moving Ahead and Getting the Career You Want, Tamara Erikson suggests, "Understand the Xers' importance placed on relationships and increased collaborative capacity, their inclination to question basic assumptions enhances their diversity in perspectives and thus asking compelling questions will release these perspectives, embrace complexity and welcome disruptive information. When you try to make things too simple, you miss out on the best solutions. Sometimes the solutions are complex because the challenges are. Xers have faced challenges in their growing up environment, and are astute and seeing back up plans to keep innovation moving forward."

- People need a cause to rally behind. Shaping a strong corporate identity will bring together needed synergies with all of the generations represented in an organization. This will aid in integrating work and personal values, which Xers value in particular.

- Appreciate the diversity of multiple points of view. Xers are much more comfortable with this than Boomers. Boomers grew up and have worked in a power structure that is played as a zero-sum game where in order for someone to win, someone else has to lose. This can make the Boomer less tolerant of diversity. If they are able to judge someone or something as less, they win. Xers see the world as a place where many people can win at the same time -- one does not necessarily have to lose value in order for another to win. Compromise and working toward common goals enable the simultaneous success of multiple people.

- Gen X employees are particularly jaded by corporate corruption and feelings of being unappreciated. Help them trust your organization by communicating the value your organization places on them. Building strong mentoring relationships can support this process effectively.


Millenials/ Gen Y:

- Feedback: Millenials crave immediate feedback, and often. Susan Hutt at Workbrain/Infor Consulting instituted an online, on-demand assessment system that limits feeds back to 140 characters -- great for those used to Twitter and texting. They don't see it as curt, just quick and immediate. That a great way to review Millenials more frequently! You can't teach them only through rules and structure -- the relationsl aspect is needed as well. Mentoring is also a great way to give feedback and teach them what they need to know. They want mentors, but have a difficult time finding them. They want a road map for success, but don't know how to get there. They are used to being told what to do from parents, with lots of advice on how to be successful. Through strong mentoring relationships, help them find trusted sources of information, find what is useful and truthful, help them learn to categorize, and then help them make decisions based on what they have learned.

- Creativity: Encourage their natural creativity and curiosity. Teach them to ask: Is there a better way? Help them put what they know together in a systematic way, and challenge them when things don't fit to figure it out themselves (don't give them the answers). Help them find their own way. Set aside blocks of time for creativity and focused problem solving. Millenials are used to co-creation -- work with them with this in mind. Make it their success. Shift away from positional bargaining to joint problem solving.

- Information: They have grown up assuming there are choices for everything, from what and where to eat, to where to work and live. They have had access to all kinds of information for years -- more than they know what to do with. They think globally in a way unprecedented in earlier generations. They need trusted filters and help to process the information, putting value to it, and prioritizing it. Mentors can help them use information in a meaningful way. Provide information that is portable, transferrable, paperless, and accessible all the time.

- Structure: Millenials will share what they know -- they do it regularly. Help them find what is worthy of their time and energy to share. Set up rewards and incentives for completing certain benchmarks or learning and development exercises. Help them see the path that will lead to their success and the specific steps they need to take to get there. Help them see that they have a responsibility for the results.

- Cross-train: Cross-train Millenials for jobs throughout the organization. Let them try out a number of positions before you finally place them. They will learn the company better, may have new perspectives to offer, and can use their penchant for creativity and innovation with a more well-rounded view of the overall company.

- Reverse Mentoring: Allow Millenials to become mentors to older generations. Millenials' comfort and expertise with social media and electronic modes of finding information can be beneficial to older generations. Reverse mentoring should also increase positive exposure for the younger workers, along with expanding their education in other areas of the company.


Gen Z/ iGen:

- As this generation is just beginning to enter the workplace, there is still much to be learned about their strengths and challenges within a work setting. However, it is clear that they are not only digital natives, but cloud natives. Additionally, they are very connected to their "smart" devices. This not only comfort with but reliance on portable technology will certainly become a factor in the workplace. It also appears that this generation will lack early career experience, so setting up a mentoring structure that is focused on career education and development from the moment of on-boarding, or perhaps even before, will be important. This generation will have much to offer in new ways of thinking, but will need guidance to learn to fully tap into this skill.
















Reactions to Conflict

Amanda Dreher - Friday, August 19, 2016



Healthy conflict begins with an awareness and appreciation of differing perspectives. When you realize that everyone brings to the table his or her own unique set of perceptions based on their genetics, generation, culture, gender and other experiences, it should not be surprising that everyone can’t agree on everything all the time. As Walter Lippmann, writer and political commentator aptly asserts, “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.” The goal then isn’t that everyone completely agrees with every decision made.


The goal is that all people know that they have been heard and that their ideas were seriously considered in the final decision. Productive conflict management helps take what could be a disruption and turns it into an opportunity. For this to happen, the goal is not to reduce conflict but to create a safe place for people to share differing perspectives with mutual respect. 



This said, there are a number of different conflict styles that we will tend to default to if we are not careful. See if any of these sounds like you.


  • Competing: 
  • In this style it is all about winning, not the subject or substance of the conflict. You will win at all costs, even if it means exaggerating or even flat out lying to “prove your point.” You look for those “zingers” that will make the other person stop talking, and thus letting you win.
  • Accommodating: 
  • This conflict style is all about ending the conflict at all costs. In this style you will acquiesce, and not really talk about what needs to be talked about because you just want it to be over. Statements like “fine, fine, you win” or “the details really don’t matter, let’s just stop fighting” are indicative of this style.
  • Avoiding: 
  • This style is one of the least productive. Conflict or disagreements are avoided at all costs. This style promotes fake unity while tempers are seething below the surface. There is no outlet for the conflict so the relationship ends up suffering since real issues are never discussed.
  • Compromising:
  • This style seeks to resolve the conflict but doesn’t really take the time to find the best solution. Usually the way the conflict is resolved is with both parties giving up something. Even though the result seems “fair” it often ends up being a lose- lose solution.
  • Collaborating: 
  • This style seeks that win-win solution. It often requires more time to find a resolution and it requires that we treat other with great respect and appreciation for each other. The collaboration style has to have both parties check their egos and anger at the door and seek a solution based on common values, passions and goals. The solution then honors those shared values, passions and goals so it is a win for all concerned.


Did you identify with one of more of these conflict styles? Work to become aware of how you handle conflict and pay attention to what is and isn’t working. Notice your patterns. Then notice the default conflict styles of your team members. Clearly you will have varying conflict styles on your team.


Using this new awareness and knowledge, the goal is to transform difficult conversations and conflicts into opportunities for productive conversations and healthy conflict. Figuring out a way to move more toward the collaborative style then becomes the focus. Brainstorm practical ways that you and your team can begin to work together more collaboratively. 


Giving Positive and Corrective Feedback

Amanda Dreher - Friday, August 19, 2016



by Amanda Dreher


When we hear the words “difficult conversations” we often default to the assumption that this is a conversation focused on conflict or correction. In reality, however, both negative and positive interactions can be difficult. One of the most challenging conversations to have can be that of feedback, both positive and negative. Positive feedback is often overlooked or forgotten.


Leaders may feel that their people will intuitively know when things are going well. As a result, the amount of feedback tends to diminish when things are good. On the other hand, corrective feedback is equally as difficult to give. When someone’s work, behavior or choices need correction it is challenging for the recipient as well. But developing tools for navigating these difficult conversations can transform these challenging situations from conflicts to be avoided into opportunities to be embraced. Try these tips for both positive and corrective feedback.


Positive Feedback:

Positive feedback can easily be forgotten if it does not get the priority it deserves. Becoming intentional about letting people know what they are doing well can be a powerful tool for employee development, job satisfaction and motivation. A few tips for giving more effective and impactful positive feedback are:


1. Be prompt

 Positive feedback is most impactful when it is given as closely to the event as possible. Giving feedback in a timely manner allows you to be more detailed and specific. Quick feedback is also more relevant and sincere. When it comes to positive feedback, there is no time like the present.


2. Be specific

 A general "Good job" is always nice to hear, however, it does not give the recipient any information that they can incorporate into their performance. Instead, focus on specific behavior, actions and decisions that the individual made that contributed to the "Job well done." Tell the person exactly why you are praising them.


3. Be consistent

 Celebrate both the large successes and the small ones. Of course your feedback and celebration should be relative to the size of the success, but be sure to give it consistently whenever you notice an individual or team success on any scale.

It is also important to give positive feedback consistently amongst all members of your team. Give praise to all team members regularly. This will help to maintain a healthy staff morale.


4. Be sincere

 Really mean what you say when you are giving positive feedback. People are very perceptive and will see right through you if your feedback is in regards to a trivial task or delivered in a trivial way. Make an effort to only give positive feedback that you truly believe. The goal here is not just to boost egos or self-esteem, but to give your team members feedback that they can use to continue to improve their performance.


Corrective Feedback:

Giving corrective feedback can be a difficult process. However, if done well, giving productive corrective feedback can be beneficial for the employee, the team and the organization. Along with the tips given above for positive feedback, the tips below will help you give corrective feedback that is more productive and impactful.


1. Focus on the future

 Focus on improving performance and on the future, rather than spending too much time discussing the past that cannot be changed. Use past actions only to inform the crafting of new strategies for improvement.


2. Focus on behavior

 Comment on behavior, not personality or character. Behavior can be changed much more easily than personality, and assaults on character rarely have a positive result because they are much more difficult to talk about objectively.


3. Focus on specifics

 Avoid absolutes like always or never. These absolutes can easily be refuted with one example where it wasn't always or never. Instead, point out a specific behavior at specific times and remark on how you perceived that behavior. This leaves the discussion open for understanding intentions behind the behavior, even if it didn't come across that way to you.


4. Focus on achievability

 Focus on performance over which the person receiving the feedback has control, like their behavior and their abilities (otherwise you are setting them up to fail).Breaking down the needed improvement into smaller steps that the person can achieve will get a better result than expecting drastic improvements immediately. 


5. Focus on improvement

 Show them respect as the people they are today, but care enough to not let them stay there. Enlist them in the solution, so they feel more ownership and investment in the outcome.


6. Focus on support

 Show you are behind them now, just as they are. Tell them specifically why you believe in them and their capabilities. Let them know that you see great things in their future.


Empowering or Discouraging That is the Question

Amanda Dreher - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Empowerment is simply the act of giving power, authority, or permission to someone. That’s it. It basically means to enable and encourage someone to take action. When you empower your team you are giving them permission and encouragement to more fully engage in their job, to contribute more of themselves and to take ownership of their role. It helps people own their part in the collective vision with such responsibility that they take initiative to go beyond the average to achieve the extraordinary.


In the following two skits we witness one event with two very different approaches from two very different leaders. As you read these scenarios, pay close attention to the response of the team member Jenny. Identify items in their discussion that might be empowering. Also identify the items that might be discouraging. Look for words, actions, etc.



Scenario 1:

- Supervisor: (hesitant, blah, annoyed)

Listen Jenny, I’m sure you know how busy we’ve been with all the construction going on with those new housing developments. Basically, we just need a lot more technicians and corporate doesn’t seem to think I can handle them all by myself. So, it looks like I have to pick somebody to promote to manager. I don't really agree with that decision, but you’ve been here the longest so you should just do it.

- Jenny: (unsure)

Well um, I guess I could do that. What’s next?

- Supervisor: (doubtful, annoyed, walking away)

I have no idea, I guess I’ll email Bob at the main office and tell him you’re the one who's gonna do it. Then we see what he says. 
- Jenny: (even more unsure, to the supervisor's back as he walks away)
Ok, so I'll just wait to hear from you then I suppose.


Scenario 2: Empowering

- Supervisor: (excitedly)

Hey Jenny, I was looking for you and hoped I might find you down here. Can we chat for a minute, I have some exciting news?

- Jenny: (interested, putting work down)

Sure, what’s going on?

- Supervisor: (Sitting down)

Well, you know how much the company has been growing, especially with all of the construction going on in those new housing developments? In order to grow with the demand, corporate has decided to hire more technicians and to create a new management position to oversee them. As soon as I heard I would get to offer this position to someone, I immediately thought of you. Not only do you have the most experience, but you really are team oriented, you work collaboratively and you care about the people you work with. I thought this would be a good chance for you to use those leadership skills. What do you think?

- Jenny: (surprised and excited)

Thank you, it sounds like a great opportunity. Wow, I am really excited. What’s next?

- Supervisor: (both standing, pleased)

Well, I’ll go email Bob now and let him know that you’ve accepted. And I’ll ask him for some more details and a timeline of what this will look like. How about we plan to meet after lunch tomorrow to go over it all? Then we can put together a game plan.

- Jenny: (surprised and excited)

That sounds wonderful, thanks again!


Suggested Observations:
- Some of the things in the first scenario that could be discouragers are: tone of voice, using deflating words, lack of explanation, lack of inspiration, no plans, very dry and succinct interaction and walking away mid-sentence. Did you catch these? Are there any others?



- Some of the things in the second scenario that could be empowering are: excited tone of voice, painting the picture of excitement, taking the time to sit down and focus, explanation of why Jenny would be good for the job, offering the job, having a plan and working together. Are these the same things you noticed? Are there any others?



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