When Vickie started working here, she went out of her way to serve her customers quickly, and with a smile. Now she takes much longer, and often just tells them why something can’t be done. What happened to Vickie? In her first week when Vickie checked with another department in order to give fast answers to customers, her co-workers coldly informed her "That’s not our job, and the credit people will complain to our boss." Later, when Vickie figured out a shortcut to speed up a procedure, her boss said, "Our policy is to do it the old way. Don’t waste your time on that." Vickie quickly learned that extra effort and improving a process was frowned upon. On the other side of the coin . . . Atlanta’s Fulton County Government Manager John Sanford broke his quick stride across the spacious office lobby to bend over and pick up a tiny piece of paper from the carpet. He continued describing his goals for his 11,000 employees to a visitor without missing a beat. Half an hour later, Matt, his Operations Director, joined them walking down a long hallway. Suddenly, Matt sprang ahead and snatched up a paper clip from the floor. It looked to the visitor as if Matt wanted to get there first. John gave Matt … Continue reading
Archives for September 2009
You go, girls! Thirty fitness buddies are exercising themselves dotty. On the chart shown above, fitness buddies launched their goals and feedback for fitness. Buddies wrote their first names into a square, claiming it for their self-posting of points earned during a month. Their checklist of fitness behaviors they perform to earn points include keeping a food diary, hiking, playing Fitness Jeopardy, working out in the gym, swimming laps, and attending aerobics classes. Each day, each person posts a dot into his or her square, with the goal of spelling out the word "FIT" by month’s end. This takes 30 dots (representing 30 activities). We see tiny sticky notes written by the director of the fitness club as well as friends, proclaiming "You go, girls!" "Great start," or "Bravo." Folks are engaging in some fitness behaviors for the first time: increasing the frequency and duration of exercise and making healthier food choices. When this month ends, each person will set personal goals for the new month. After the first two weeks, attendance in exercise classes averaged 29 people, compared with 20 before the self-posting of feedback. After classes, we can overhear, "Let’s go to the gym and post our dots." Feedback makes fitness fun!
Every supervisor, manager, and leader knows how uncomfortable it is to give feedback. Receiving feedback is several times worse for many of us. We like to believe we’re doing everything right, or if we aren’t, that no one has noticed. My title above is extreme (to get your attention, of course). Few of us believe we’re fabulous. But we usually think we’re O.K. I keep working to become less thin-skinned. Some folks admit they have "no skin." Almost all of us hate rejection, however we may define it. As a result, we may be kept in the dark by someone who has valuable feedback for us, but dreads our defensive reaction. I don’t want to be the last to know how someone views my work, I want to be the first to know! So I’ve finally learned to ASK for feedback, and then RECEIVE it with appreciation and without arguing, justifying, or defending. After conducting a seminar, I asked my customer, "What would you like more of next time? What would you like less of next time?" This made it easier for him to give me feedback. Here’s why: 1. I asked for it. 2. I gave him two specific (also quick & … Continue reading