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Can We Talk? The Art of On-the-Fly Feedback

37669530_sOne of the ideas we really liked from “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go”, launched last month, was the “un meeting.” We agree with Bev Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni, (book authors and our colleagues) that simpler, unscheduled conversations offer a great place to do planning of both career growth as well as development. Unlike scheduled meetings, they do not require forms and structured tools. In fact leaving room for spontaneity and discovery simplifies the time crunch challenge all managers face.

Bev and Julie speak eloquently of the nature of these career and growth conversations which are characterized by questions asked out of great curiosity, allowing the employee to expand the conversation. We too highly value the art of asking thought provoking questions. Yet, to make everyday a development day, managers need to go beyond questions. Because the starting point of development is intentionally putting growth into the work, un-meetings will need to take the conversation further and provide focused feedback on how people are doing.

Unlike well articulated and documented feedback for planned meetings, mastering effective feedback for impromptu conversations requires more in-the moment communication. Here are six tips that can help you master the art of on-the-fly feedback for un-meetings:

  1. Step up to one or two “in-the-moment” feedback conversations per day. The sheer value will convince you to do more. Managers are just too busy to hold many longer scheduled meetings that require planning. But this kind of short, to the point feedback is golden and can actually fit into your days. We call this: tucking development into the crevices of the day.
  2. Satisfy your employees hunger for lots of feedback, yet, given in little bites. Outstanding employees we researched, who were great at independently developing their own careers, put feedback—often, immediate, and candid—right near the top of of valued managerial tactics.
  3. If you feel uncertain about a particular aspect of the feedback…hold it back. Better to save it for another time when it is better formulated.
  4. Think in terms of 4 four parts: 1. respectful reason that you want to share feedback, 2. objective observation of their behavior, 3. impact of current behavior, and 4. inquiry about their perspective”
  5. Be tuned into their frame of mind and receptivity. Without a connection to you, and a sense of respect, this will not go very far.
  6. Ask questions to patiently help them put it into perspective; it will make all the difference in their use of the feedback and your relationship with them.

One of the best exceptional development managers in our research said, “I don’t wait for a meeting to give feedback. I provide it right away, the good, the bad and the ugly . . . and they thank me for it.” Take O.F.F (on-the-fly feedback) every day with your employees, and you’ll be well on your way to having great un-meetings that result in development!

This article by Jeannie Coyle was originally published on the http://talentsavvymanager.com on Nov. 8, 2012