Let’s pretend you are the branch manager for Mercantile Credit, a busy inner city branch in downtown Vancouver. As a leader, you have lot’s of challenges keeping the business focused and profitable, managing 15 employees and providing strategic and best advice to the SLT. You are busy, real busy.
Meet Maxine, one of your employees [it could just as well be Clint]. Maxine is 35 years old and is an expert at her work as a contract specialist for Mercantile Credit Union. Maxine is part of a team of 15 people who report to you. She has been working at Mercantile Credit for nearly 13 years now. During coffee breaks, you can always find Maxine, come rain or shine, having a smoke outside with her small group of friends.
Maxine can be a lot of fun to be around. But also a bit of a pain. What gets to you sometimes is her uncanny way of making a meal out of every event in her life. There’s the ex-husband who is a jerk, the ex-mother-in-law who ignores Maxine, the schoolteacher at work who is picking on her daughter, the renters who are trashing her investment condo, the great deal she’s just got to go to Cancun with her new boyfriend . . .
As a leader you have most probably come across a ‘Maxine’ or ‘Clint’ at some stage in your career. You might even have a ‘Maxine’ or ‘Clint’ in your team right now.
What bothers you about Maxine is her ability to involve her small band of followers, and anyone else who will listen, in her unfolding dramas. She’s so good at it that people become emotionally involved, take sides and try to help her out. Then one or two of her colleagues will get frustrated when she doesn’t act on their suggestions. They avoid her for a while and that unsettles Maxine and makes her seek out other colleagues who will collude with her.
And here’s where it becomes a problem at work because employees at the branch sort themselves into two camps:
A coach approach to a feedback conversation is transformational – we invite the other person and ourselves into a compelling future. Both of us need to walk away feeling inspired to move forward with a new understanding, clarity and a sense of power leading to action.
The practice of regularly giving feedback on an informal and formal basis involves:
Once you have provided feedback, turn it around and invite your employee or colleague to provide you with constructive feedback on any scenario, challenge or issue that comes to his or her mind. If the person is hesitant, ask “How am I doing with ….
As a leader you will need to have a series of feedback conversations with her using the guidelines listed above. If no-one has drawn Maxine’s attention to the impact of her style in previous years, it will come as a complete surprise to her as patterns have developed and become entrenched long before you came to this branch.
The feedback conversations should be conducted with extreme care and candour – being respectful of Maxine as a person and being absolutely clear on the impact of the behaviour. And once you have provided feedback, turn the focus on you and invite feedback from her on the way you show up as the branch manager.
Ask me about the Cultivating a DIET for Feedback Method – a powerful and clear 4-step method for leaders that can be used in any scenario for giving and receiving feedback – for correcting behaviours or reinforcing or encouraging behaviours.
Conversations That Count is a compilation of stories of authentic interaction with peers, employees, colleagues and customers. When we get engaged, we get results - a real return on engagement.