Noobes shouldn’t be on the front line until they can do it with ‘no hands’

The dreaded western customer service job

Yesterday, I had to sit around offices a bit and I watched two people work in jobs that aren’t very high powered.

The noobe

In the first, the relatively more senior job, was a young fellow, baby faced but with determined lower body movements. He was racing the clock as he tried to execute what, for him, is still a complicated sequence of moves.  He took great pleasure in deftly picking up the paper, entering stuff in a computer, standing up, sitting down, and barking out commands to customers.

He needs the time and space to practice but should he really have been released into the wild?

The old hand

The second was a very much more junior job but a more experienced guy was handling two customer points simultaneously.  He was relishing the challenge and got ahead by anticipating what people wanted and priming his work station.  He was still racing the clock, but out of boredom rather than inexperience.

The old hand vs the noobe

The big difference between the two came when the experienced guy had forgotten something I asked for it.  Then I got a big smile and “I am onto it Miss”.  The younger guy would have snapped.  And this is why.

Feedback cycles

Noobe vs old hand

The goal for the the ‘noobe’ was his own performance.  The  goal for the second man was my convenience and satisfaction.  Multi-tasking was just the way he stopped dropping from boredom but he would drop multi-tasking in an instant if customer satisfaction was threatened.

Understanding the psychology of ‘noobishness’

This sounds as it the ‘noobe’ is being morally wrong in some way.  A psychological analysis helps us out of that evaluative trap.

We see what goal is driving someone’s performance by watching what feedback they look for and respond to.

A rank ‘noobe’ attends to their own performance.  They have to.  Indeed, if we want to design a really bad job, we interfere with their do-check cycle.  They cannot get good at a task until they have repeated the task often to their own satisfaction.

Customer service is not the place for ‘noobes’

The trouble is that customer service is one level higher.  It is the same level as supervision.  They have to judge a situation as well as execute work.

In a front line where a lot of customer situations are utterly predictable and require no attention whatsoever from the attendant, then it is OK to put a ‘noobe’ there.  But a supervisor should be close to hand.  The supervisor mustn’t micro manage, because that muddles up do-check feedback system. They must be there to step-in when the situation has changed from a ‘practice turn’ to a ‘choose the bundle of tasks that will lead to customer satisfaction’.

Training supervision

This distinction between situation and execution is the key to training a supervisor.  Are they able to say clearly to their charge: the situation began like this – it has changed to this – now do this – or I’ll finish this and I’ll show you after ward what I did?

So how do ‘noobes’ get experience?

I’m a teacher and I also consult.  All my life, I’ve tried to take on work that creates practice slots for juniors.  But there have to be some rules.

  • Confidentiality:  I teach them to forget everything they see and hear in the office.  Write it down. Put it in a file.  Wipe your mental slate. Then when someone tries to find out things from you, you can honestly say they’ve forgotten.  Everything is recorded and forgotten.  (This may be less essential in other businesses but we deal with personal data.)  The sweet line “Tell me again what you do” is anyway a great conversational opener.
  • Rhythm: I teach them to look at me and make sure I have given them permission to speak before they open their mouths in front of a client.  The reason is this. I might be following a conversational line that they don’t follow. If they interrupt, the client loses their train of thought.
  • Alerts: If they believe there is something that I should know about, they can catch my eye.  That look is very different from the look of “I would like to practice a little now.”  I’ll immediately take them outside and ask what has concerned them.

With these three rules, ‘noobes’ can observe interactions with customer and gradually ease into bigger roles.

They earn their keep with carefully calibrated back room tasks following two principles: (A) Never give to a ‘noobe’ what cannot be redone and (B) Show them and make them practice over-and-over again until they can do it “with no hands”, so to speak.

Then they are able to handle the rapidly changing requirements of customer service.  But they aren’t handling the customer on their own until they can do all the technical stuff with “no hands”.  Their minds must be free to attend to the people they are speaking to.

Get to the heart of what will be the vibrant, interesting, & lucrative jobs and careers in the 21st century?

New management

When I went to university, we were told that management is the art of getting work done through people.  A passport to laziness and exploitation!

Today, we say management is developing people through work.

Work should be fun.  It is fun for some of us.

And work should be fair.  Not only should we receive a fair day’s pay for a fair days work.  We should be growing as a person and capable of doing more with each hour of work that we put in.

Rewriting the training manuals for jobs and careers

In 20th century management manuals, Stage 1 of work was doing.  For about 10 years, roughly from 16 to 26, we learned a trade and built breadth & depth through education and exposure.  Our job was to cultivate a deep knowledge of our materials and tools, appreciate our customers, and adapt what we did for their needs.  We wanted to learn enough about the wide range of situations that we might encounter in the future so that we could go with the flow and make a living as the years went by.

Sadly, of course, markets change and revolutions happen in technology.  With very little notice, customers defect to other products and markets, competitors outrun us, or the technology changes sufficiently to require another 10 year apprenticeship.

In the ‘olden days’, HR departments were responsible for seeing ahead and retraining staff ahead of any abrupt changes.  By definition, the HR Director’s job was to spot changes on the horizon and get everyone retrained in new ways without disrupting today’s operations.  There was a reason for that high salary!

You are now your own HR Director

Today’s management theorists and leadership coaches counsel another approach.  They recommend that each of us scan the horizon for changes and retrain ourselves in good time.

This is quite hard to do.  As noobes, we barely understand the business.  We don’t have data to see ahead.  Indeed it might be kept from us.  And training tends to focus on skill  rather than the ‘sweet spot’ where are skills are deeply valued by our customers.

The sweet spot where your skills are deeply valued by your customers

I know that there has been a lot of research on how to train people on the sweet spot.

  • I recall attempts to train doctors by introducing them to patients from day one.  The conclusion, I recall, was that the pre-clinical training was necessary to speed up communication between noobes and experienced doctors and the experiment was abandoned.
  • Cognitive psychologists have developed computer games to test whether it is better to learn the market before we learn the underlying technology of our business.  They concluded no.  First, learn the technology, then try to make money.
  • Military psychologists have found that youngsters trained to manage their attention on computer games performed better as fighter pilots.  In the game, the recruits played the part of captains of de-mining vessels.  Each ‘month’, or game cycle, they would concentrate on the overall outcome of running the ship and concentrate on learning one of the functions only ~ navigation, finance, HR, etc.  The limitation known with this approach is that under pressure we often go back to the “level” that we first learned, requiring, once again, that we can see into the future and pick our “level” correctly.

It seems easy to mess up our mental models of the sweet spot and what we need to do to manage it.  We can overemphasize the money end and underemphasize the skill.  We can also learn to manage situations that are too small to sustain a living.

More research needed on managing our own training for 21st century jobs and careers

None of these experiments have focused though on developing a sense of the sweet spot and organizing skills and commercial acumen around a sweet spot that morphs, ebbs and flows.  I know no experiment where “subjects” were explicitly trained to monitor what is happening around them, to think of their own skills (and the skills of their team) and bring those together into a rewarding balance.

I wonder what would happen if we learned to think that way from the get-go?

 

Organize your own thinking about vibrant, interesting & lucrative jobs and careers in the 21st century

If you want to try, to organize your thinking about the sweet spot between your skills and the needs of customers, this is what I recommend.

Pick on anything you did today that you enjoyed and draw out 3 spokes

  • name the key technical skill that you used to provide your customer with value
  • name the customer and describe his or her needs
  • name the sweet spot and try describe it in one sentence

These three spokes correspond logically to three factors associated with successful business teams:

  • The teams ask questions more often than the give answers
  • They concentrate on the outside world a little more than on themselves
  • The look for what is going well and are positive 5x more than they are negative

Become your own HR Director

I think it will take quite a few lots of 10 to 15 minutes jotting down notes for this way of thinking to come easily.  But when it does you will be your own HR Director

  • Looking ahead
  • Retraining on time
  • Finding the sweet spot where you feel vital, involved, entertained, valued AND rewarded!

Do let me know how it works out!

Be a social media star: a menu board of 5 competences

We are in social media because we really have fun

Most of us who get into social media because we love it.  We like computers and we are fairly sociable, though curiously, often introverted too.

We do what we love, and we do it happily all day long.

It’s only when we start to think about making money, that we start to think about monetizing. And then we start to think a lot about money. And we start to talk about it too.

Have you ever noticed that people in other industries don’t talk about money nearly as much as we do?

That’s because they have more than us.

Why other people make money

My ‘day job’, or at least my day-job in years gone by, was as a psychologist to commerce and industry. We put in systems – pay, performance appraisal, selection. Hell, even pensions.

Most social media firms are much too small to be bothered with such systems. That’s lucky. These systems tend to be rather dull.

The guiding principles behind the systems are another matter though.

Take competencies, for example.

We try to understand a job in terms of its essential skill base. What do we get done? What are the main clusters of tasks?

I’ve been edging toward a model for social media and this is what I’ve come up with.

Menu board of 5 competencies in social media

Competence 1: Customers

Who are our customers? If they used our service, what would they use it for? How do they satisfy that need without us?

Once we’ve introduced our service, how do they use it? What tweaks do they introduce?

This isn’t a customer-service role. It’s a strategic-role where our expertise is watching the people we serve.

Clay Shirky is the best example of a person who is expert in this role He works at the role of macro-strategy. What affects all of us?

We also need mavens working at the level of micro-strategy – our own industry, our own locality, our specific demographic. Anthropology and sociology are good foundations for this expertise.

Competence 2: Technology

Today, Seth Sternberg, founder of Meebo, posted his thoughts on managing startups over on Techcrunch.

He believes that the core team needs at least two technical people: the pixelator (design of the front end) and the person who makes the servers fly (backend).

That’s a useful framework to start with. Where is design and processing going? What is likely to break onto the scene in the next five years? What is flair and what is competence in the field?

In the social media world of south-east England, many of us rely on LoudMouthMan to give us an overview of what is happening.

I suspect many geeks are very specialized and are micro-micro, so to speak.  What are the slightly broader ‘chunks’ that match clusters or groups of apps who compete with each other?

Competence 3: Marketing

Now we get to looking after customers.  Marketers in the social media space are quite competent technically.  They use social media to find customers, respond to customers, and tweak the system to manage the % ROI.

This space is very noisy. But I perceive most people are chasing the business of big traditional companies who are perceived to be flush with cash.

I haven’t met too many social media marketers who will manage a startup.  The closest that I know of is Julius Solaris who is his own startup, so to speak.  He arrived in UK less than 18 months ago and has built an extensive network of entrepreneurs in London.

I’ve done a little work on the broad mega-picture of Facebook & Twitter and Linkedin users in UK

To work our own space – to go from zero customers to 1000’s of customers, we need to copy Julius.

Competence 4: Keeping it all together.

I have met some accountants at Julius’ meetups. Accountants who specialize in social media are as rare as hens’ teeth though.

Lawyers are a little more common, but not common at all. Omar Ha-Redeye, reading for his JD in Canada is the closest I know.

This post is my contribution to this competence ‘Keeping it all together’ by thinking ahead about our skill base.

Competence 5: Emergence

And lastly, who is Hannibal of the A team?

We sometimes bring ‘old world’ attitudes to social media. We want to be in-charge, largely because we don’t trust each other and we are terrified of losing control of the ‘rent’ – the unusual profits.

In reality, of course, we barely have any profit at all. This is part of the creative sector and few people get rich.

Hannibal doesn’t play this old fashioned role. Hannibal thinks up the game plan. Hannibal builds the missing trust and gets out some fair and cast iron contracts (that the lawyers, accountants and psychologists will make happen in their detail).

Hannibal coordinates. Hannibal sizes up the progress we make in our distinct arenas and passes information between us to help us stay together.

And second only to building trust, Hannibal senses the emergence of new understanding, clarity and more finely tuned goals. Hannibal represents the group to itself . . . represents the group to itself.

Hannibal must love the group, seriously love it.

We are Hannibal in our own lives. We think up our game plan. We help all the people who help us to trust each other. We pass information between them when they cannot do it themselves. We sense what we can do together and we represent this possibility so everyone can imagine a future that includes us . Universities have started to offer full semester courses to start students developing personal leadership.

Five competencies for managing a social media business

  • We need them all in part
  • It’s great when we find a maven who will keep us informed of broad changes
  • It seems to me that there are many opportunities to become experts at “industry” level (between niche and the broader picture).
  • “Keeping it all together” is calling for people with professional skills to specialize in social media.
  • We are all Hannibals in our own life.
  • Some people play the role of Hannibal in project teams and get very good at it.

Any use to you? Has this list helped you to check off your strengths and the strengths of your network?

Can you start a project team in the next month?  Who is missing from your team?

When you next go to a meetup, who are you hoping to find, probably standing somewhere quietly?

Any thoughts?

Enhanced by Zemanta

10 questions I ask about a venture’s readiness to win

Fast Break

There is nothing I relish more than a “fast break”. I love the way that we can turn a rebound into a few deft passes and race the opposition to a slam dunk.

Carpe diem ! Sieze the day!

Can you take the Fast Break when it comes?

The conditions are right. The rewards are there.

Are we organized to dispatch our fast break specialist, take that rebound and pass it down the court, with ball and fast break specialist arriving together – right foot down, left down, into the air, done! 2 points?

Are we organized?

Well, there are the permanent spectators in life.  There are some who have a go, but don’t really get it.

And there are some who understand the game.  They get ready in advance.  They practice with others.  And when the opportunity breaks, they are running immediately, moving at speed in coordination with their prepared team, and they score. Sweet!

What are you ready for?

1.  What is the equivalent of the ball and the equivalent of the basket in your business?  2. What do you win by putting the ball in the basket?

And when you can tell me that, tell me this.

  • 3.  Who is working with you? 4.  And who must you outpace to pull this off?
  • 5.  What is the signal that sends the fast-break specialist off?  6.  Who is taking the ball off the back-board?  7.  Who is the play-maker (mid-fielder) in the middle?
  • 8.  When do you train together?  9.  When do you celebrate your wins?   10.  How long will you play together?

10 questions . . . oh, but do remember this is a game.   When we are straining too hard, to get this done, it is time for a coffee break to think again.

21st century feedback, training, management, HR

Feedback, poor much aligned feedback!

Feedback is one of the themes on the internet in the last 10 days and as a psychologist, I almost always weigh in.

The lay meaning of the term tends to be: Can I give you some feedback?

That’s a polite beginning, and as with all politeness, it obscures a depth of tension.  Think of “Won’t you come in?”  “Do come in!”  “Come in.” ” Come!”.   The more polite we are, the more tense we really feel.

So in this sense, “Can I give you feedback?” means, “Can I tell you how irritating you have been been?”

The best response is for us to put on our “active listening” hat, option 3, angry.

An angry person wants their anger to be acknowledged.  Accept their anger and restore their status.  It is not hard.

Then, if there is a practical issue too, deal with it.  But first deal with the social issue.  They feel “dissed”.  Restore their status by accepting their right to feel dissed and to tell you about it.

Professional meaning of feedback

The proper meaning of feedback, though, is “distance to a goal”.  This is the essence of motivation.  The mouse runs faster when it sees the cheese.  And because it is the essence of motivation, feedback is the most powerful tool in the psychology of high performance.

Once a university asked me to teach employee engagement to MBA’s in 3 hours.  Not possible.  Teaching the principles of feedback, practicing them till we are fluent, and using them in context, is a language that takes more than three hours to learn.   And it is too important to be tossed off as a topic.

So this is a long post.  But I hope you find it useful and towards the end, when I speculate on how we can improve the “feedback” we collect about training,  and how we can do better HR when we manage the feedback loops in an organization, I hope you jot down some ideas and give me feedback.

Three types of feedback

Feedback

Feedback tells you whether you achieved your goal .  Feedback means it is informaton given after the event.

Feedback has all these elements and characteristics.

  • We have a goal and we need to know what it is.  In an organization, we all need to know what the goal is.
  • We have a way of measuring how far away we are from our goal.  How close are we to our cheese?
  • And we are told the distance to the cheese after we have stopped looking for it!  If the task is repetitive, like target practice, feedback after each trial is useful. Top class medical transcribers raise their performance another 20% if you tell them each day how many words they typed!
  • But if I tell you after a year, the information is worthless.  So why do give it?
  • Sorry to be dismissive, but if your boss is giving your feedback after the event and maybe a year later, he or she is not exactly on top of things.  Think big banks running the 6th richest country in the world onto the rocks of bankruptcy.  Giving feedback at the wrong point of the system is disastrous.  Think seriously about getting a better boss.
  • And in HR, it is our job to monitor how feedback is used and to design it into jobs properly.

So this is feedback.  It is useful when we have a repetitive task but it must be delivered before we begin the next trial.  No wait, let me be more precise, before we start preparing for the next trial.

Feedforward

Feedforward tells us about our goal and, importantly, the context of the goal.  Feedforward is provided before an event.

  • The best example of feedforward comes from the military.
  • SMEAC – Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration, Communication
  • The boss is required to lay out the team’s operation on one piece of paper giving
    • the goal for the organization level above him or her (situation)
    • his or her goal – the group mission in one sentence (mission)
    • the goals for each member of the team in one sentence each (execution)
    • any non-standard resources (administration)
    • the points at which we must communicate (feedback which becomes feedforward to someone else).
  • So we need information at three levels of the organization.  We need to know who is doing what around us. We need to know how we will coordinate.
  • Sadly, I’ve only seen this done in the best organizations.  When I offered assessment centres to these organizations, we included delegation tasks in our assessment centres because they quickly reveal whether a manager understands the organization.  And organization, not control, is what managers are responsible for.

Feedfoward is provided before work begins.  It is taught carefully in the military and we can learn a lot from them.  In my experience, when something goes wrong, almost always I can track the problem back to information that is missing from the description about the situation.  We didn’t brief people properly about the context.

Continuous Feedback

Continuous feedback, which oddly does not have a specific name, is the third type and is the most important for high performance.  This is feedback that comes from the task itself.  It is fairly immediate.

  • You’ll have noticed that in the SMEAC system, we delegate a goal with one sentence only.  I ask you, if someone is fully trained, why do they need more than that?
  • A trained person will get on with the task and is obtaining information from the work as it progresses.  A chef works on sight, smell, touch.  The feedback is inherent in the task.
  • We experience flow when the feedback is built into a task.  We experience flow when time vanishes because we are so engaged.  We are inside the task.  We enjoy doing skilled work in a skilled way and if we want engaged, happy employees, or motivated, happy students, this is what we have to get right.  They must have tasks where the feedback comes to them from the task itself.
  • Bad jobs remove feedback.  I refer to bosses who “steal feedback”. They intercept information and stop it going back to the person who does the job.  They cause accidents.   “Stealing feedback” is like making someone drive blindfolded and directing operations from the back seat.  It is micro-management.
  • The military are aware of this problem and carefully judge communication loads. Lieutenants command three sections so the co-ordination task is sufficiently demanding and leaves no time to interfere with their sergeants.
  • If information goes to a manager rather than to the person doing the task, don’t be surprised if the task does not get done and the whole team runs into trouble.  The manager is attending to information that should be going elsewhere and they are not attending to their own role which is acting as the coordination point between 5-10 people and between that group and the organization at large.
  • Sort out this feature of task and organizational design, and your productivity leaps forward.  Depending on the your baseline, you may get gains of 10% or 20%.  I’ve seen gains of 100%, 200% and in one remarkable case, 1200% with no capital outlay.  Just HR doing its job.
  • And best of all managers have time to manage – that is coordinate and attend to the environment.

Continuous feedback leads to high performance. And it creates the highly pleasurable sensation of flow.

Feedforward tells us what needs to be be done. It is the critical briefing about the context of a task before we begin it.

And feedback tells us what we did yesterday.

So if feedback is about yesterday, why is it used so extensively in business?

I think it is because people want to express anger and their anger is about status.  A boss is establishing status.

Sadly (IMHO), English-speaking countries have masculine cultures.  We spend a lot of time establishing the pecking order.  Not all cultures do this.  They don’t have to put other people down to feel good.

And because we spend a lot of the time engaged in one upmanship and oneupmanship is really impolite, we have to deny what we are doing and be “polite” on the surface.

Let me spell out what this means in practice.  In Commonwealth countries, officers and “men” don’t eat together.  Or didn’t.  Has this changed?  In European countries, they do.  This I understand (has it changed), makes joint military operations between the UK and our allies very difficult.  In less masculine countries, artificial status differences are unacceptable.   You lead by doing your job.

Interestly, this is the difference between Gen Y and the Baby Boomers.  Boomers who think they are liberated still subscribe to the pecking order culture.  Gen Y don’t.  16 year olds befriend 50 year olds happily on the basis of common interest.  They are less experienced in some respects and more skilled in others and expect to be incorporated on the basis of their contribution not their place in some kind of queue.

So what has this to do with feedback or the distorted way we use feedback?

Everything.  The industrial system, a la Taylor, works on a principle of Gap Management.  Not “Mind the Gap” of the London Underground which is a useful bit of feedforward.  But a gap that is presumed.  This is how it goes.

I am the boss. I define the way the world should be.  And I must make sure you live up to that idea.  First, I assume there is a gap and I look for it.  Second, I assume the gap is a bad thing so I suffer negative feelings.  Third, your performance in so far it differs from what I imagined disappoints me.  Fourth,  I am the boss, so my feelings of disappointment anger me.  See how it goes?  Now is the time someone says, “Can I give you feedback!”

An alternative to gap management, anger, and “feedback” at work?

There is an alternative and even the Americans “get it”!  For quite a while now.  It goes by the rubrics of positive psychology and positive organizational scholarship.

People get distracted by the word “positive” assuming this to be advocating “politeness”.  We all know people who advocate vacuous pleasantness and optimism but who are mean and vicious underneath.  When we come at the world with a masculine, pecking order, mindset, positive seems all wrong.

So lets let’s put pecking orders aside and look at the alternative.

In many situations, if not most situations, defining a goal in advance is unrealistic.  Even it is possible, we will lose out a lot.  In the military, they say no plan survives meeting the enemy.  We always have to improvise on the day.  Under these conditions, you can see that gap management and feedback is counter-productive.

So why do we do plan?  The military say it is not the plan, but the planning.  We prime ourselves with relevant information so that we can process unfolding events as they happen.  But we allow alternative ideas to develop.

That does not mean chaos. It means the opposite.  And it does not mean a boss who has no idea what is happening.

It means a boss who is picking up communications, or feedback, from each of us, reconstructing the overall picture, and holding that up to us so we can see our collective position.

When we have an annual feedback review, this is what should be happening.

The boss, who is responsible for the annual cycle should be saying, “This is where we were a year ago. This is what our challenges have been.  This is where we are now.  This is where we are going.”

In a large organization, again, this is situated at the three levels.

  • Situation – which includes the actions of other departments around us.
  • The aggregate team level – where we came from and where we are going.
  • The members of the team and the team structure – who was with us at the beginning, the role they were playing, how we morphed to who is with us now, and the general role each person is playing now.

How different this is from the rituals of anger and one upmanship that are played out in most of the organizations we know.

21st century management is  about “eating with the men” and feedback is about showing how you have improved the organization.  Your team wants to hear.  Your team wants to applaud.

Feedback in Training

I started writing this post because Jackie Cameron (@jayseetoo) was talking about feedback in training.  This is how I think we depart from our tradition of gap management in training.   Let me know what you think and we can develop these ideas together.

My understanding of the training situation

In a training situation, a person comes into the room with a goal.  But by definition, they do not know all the goals they could have.  If they did, the training would not be useful to them.

They also come into a group situation (unless you see training as 30 separate bodies sitting passively like physical objects).  And they interact with each other to mutual gain and quite often to mutual irritation.

Irritation and anger are part of life.  We need to stop pretending they aren’t.  Though they feel bad, they aren’t bad.  They are simply emotional signals that we feel we aren’t being heard.

With this description of training, what “feedback” do we need?

1  How did our goals change during the training course?

I want to know how our goals changed during the training session.  And that includes the goals of the trainers.  We aren’t doing gap management – one person doesn’t know everything!  Thus I ask, whose goals have changed, and how?

I see training as a timeout where we follow a process which culminates in the comparison of the goals we had when we began with the goals we have as we return to the world and our lives.

And it is possible that we end a training course annoyed and disappointed!  That’s OK.  We may have been deluded at the outset about the possibilities available to us.

My evaluation questions go like this:

  • Did taking this course help you define goals more clearly and help you get more out of life, or alternatively, avoid taking a wrong turn?
  • How much did you gain as a % of the fees we charged you?  Or, how much would you have spent if you had continued in the wrong direction?

2 Are we confident about our new goals?

I want to know that a person can act on their own and so I want each person to actively work on their own plans.

A person might come to the conclusion “bin this subject – it is not for me”.

They also might end the course by deciding to follow up another question.

Both are acceptable outcomes to me.  What I want to know is whether they have moved on in some way.

The end of a course is a time of  “adjourning”  too.   People are moving from group to individual action and they need to visualize and mentally rehearse using the material as an individual and without my support and the support of the group.

So I collect the goals expressed at the end of the course and analyse them in my post-course review and evaluate extent to which they are active and specific.

I also add this evaluation question:

  • How confident are you that you will complete this action?

Self-efficacy is not sufficient for completion but it is necessary for completion.

3 Were we in good company?

I also want my course to be a resource to a person as they go through life and it is here I get the most important feedback on what I could do to improve the course.

I ask these questions, or variations, thereof:

  • Are you proud that you took this course?
  • Do you believe that the people who were on this course with you will do what they say?

Collective efficacy boosts performance and if people are proud to be in the room, they will learn heaps more.

I add practical questions here too.

  • Have you met people, or renewed contact with people, whom you will contact after the course and find helpful in your work?

4  Did I believe I you?

And then I ask the humdinger of the question:

  • Do you think that I believed in you?

The Pygmalion effect has a dramatic impact on people’s self-efficacy.

And I might also ask an open question:

  • How did I express my belief in you?

5 Did I believe in this group?

And lastly, I’ll ask myself this extremely important question.

  • Did I believe in this group?

If they ring me up next week, would I be happy to take their call?

Am I happy to have them follow me on Twitter and would I find their tweets interesting?

Can they follow me on Facebook and do I trust them to respect me?

What did I learn from this group and when I gave the summation and showed who we were when we began and who we were at the end, what did I feel and why?

If my evaluation of my group is not positive, I simply shouldn’t be leading them.

That is the challenge to English-speaking corporates.  Why are the people in-charge allowed to be uninspired by their “followers”?  It is not good enough.

I’ve also learned to ask this question positively:  What happened today and “WHY DID IT GO SO WELL?”

HR and the urge to give feedback

Those of us in HR need to monitor these urges to “give feedback”.  What is the real issue that has flipped this group into a negative spiral?

Once we notice that a group is so annoyed with each other that they are “giving feedback”, we should do something.  This is my thought process.  Yours?

  • Is the job badly designed and is the boss interfering in the level below?  Or rather what are the goals above the boss, at the boss’ level, and the level below?
  • Has the group task been badly designed and are the communication points between team members miss-set?  Maybe we have been over-ambitious?
  • If one team member has tripped up, why?  Was their goal consistent with circumstances and resources?
  • Is it a matter of training and selection – did we trip up?  Did we set up one of our employees and their colleagues for a fall?

If you aren’t able to facilitate a return to an upward spiral by going through these qustions, I will eat my hat.  Try me out.  I far prefer to wear my hat so this is a serious offer.

But remember, you may have to accept a lot of anger at the outset, dressed up as “feedback”.

And if you can’t do that, it’s probably because you don’t believe in this team enough, and maybe you should get another person to take on the job!

21st century management

21st century work is not about one person defining the goal.  It is about all of us working out what is possible.

Managers play an important role in negotiating and facilitating our sense of what is possible and simultaneously defusing strong emotions when these threaten to set us all on a downward spiral.

A manager’s role is to hold up a mirror so we see our collective dream in sharper relief and heighten our confidence in each other.

It is beautiful when we see it happening.

Feedback?

And did this help you at all?  Do you have a reaction which would help me?  Are we in better place than we were before?

I am.  Writing helps organize thoughts.  This is a pretty rambling post incorporating culture, feedback and organization with management, HR, training and selection but it has helped me heaps.  Thanks and sorry about remaining typos and grammatical errors.   There is a lesson in this.  Don’t write long posts.  So thanks.  If you are reading this, you’ve stuck with me for a long while.

Enhanced by Zemanta