A Springboard for You

For a better life and a better eternity

Delivering Well-Crafted Targeted Feedback (from Ken Blanchard Companies)


Last week we talked about how to grow from the negative feedback we sometimes receive. Coincidentally, I received the Ken Blanchard Companies’ Ignite newsletter in my e-mail this week. One article looked at the other side of this. How to give great feedback. Check out the article below.

Blanchard is the author or co-author of several books such as Leading at a Higher Level: Blanchard on Leadership and Creating High Performing Organizations, Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Service and The One Minute Manager.

For more info, you can find the article in its original format here. Make sure to check out the information about a free webinar on giving and receiving feedback.


Delivering Well-Crafted, Targeted Feedback

Employees need specific and descriptive feedback if they are going to master a skill or achieve a goal. But this type of one-to-one feedback is in short supply in most organizations. The reason is two-fold. First, managers avoid giving feedback because they do not have a clear process to follow, and second, they are concerned that without such a process the conversation might be perceived as evaluative and judgmental. The result is hesitation on the part of the manager that results in the feedback session never occurring.

“The opportunity loss is tremendous,” explains Susan Fowler, a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies. “We know from the research that if someone does not get feedback, they are not going to grow. If they get feedback that is ill-delivered or ill-defined, then their performance can even decline. The only way we see a dependable increase in performance is when a person gets well-crafted, targeted feedback in a timely fashion.”

Providing good feedback does not occur naturally or by default. To provide effective feedback, leaders must learn, develop, and cultivate very specific conversational skills.

For Fowler, that means that managers—or anyone trying to help develop another person’s skills—

appreciate the importance of effective feedback; understand their personal motives, agenda, and responsibility for giving feedback; and know when and how to give the various types of feedback.

Start with Some Self-Examination

For managers looking to improve their feedback skills, Fowler recommends starting with a couple of self-directed questions. In her experience, many managers get off on the wrong foot because they focus more on their own needs than the needs of the person receiving the feedback.

As she explains, “I think that oftentimes, sadly, the feedback that we do give to people is based on our own need to be seen as an expert or to control the environment.”

To address this, Fowler recommends that managers ask themselves, “Is this my need to give this feedback or am I giving this feedback because the other person’s performance will actually benefit as a result of it?”

“You really have to understand whose need it is,” Fowler explains. “Start with understanding your role with the individual. Whether it is your spouse, your child, someone you manage, a coworker, or a peer, ask yourself, ‘What is my role here? What context am I in? Is it appropriate for me to give feedback? If it is appropriate, what is my purpose?'”

Match the Feedback to the Desired Outcomes

Once a manager is clear on the purpose of the feedback, the next step is to provide the type of feedback that will best meet the needs of the recipient. There are two main types of feedback—

personalized and pure. Both can work well, as long as they are matched correctly to the needs of the employee.

Personalized feedback is the type that most managers are familiar with. This is judgmental information (either positive or negative) about past performance designed to encourage or extinguish future behavior. It takes the form of either praise, when used to recognize positive behavior, or re-direction, when used to discourage negative behavior.

Pure feedback is a new concept for most managers. It is feedback that is descriptive, objective, factual, and nonjudgmental. This kind of feedback allows the receiver to decide what to do with it. It is most appropriate when the goal of a manager is to develop an independent person who can judge for themselves how they are doing—

to give themselves feedback.

Feedback Builds Relationships

The research says that people appreciate and respond positively to well-crafted feedback. It improves performance and helps people sustain higher levels of performance. From an organization’s point of view, that’s why you want managers who are skillful at giving feedback.

But feedback also builds mutual trust and individual respect that results in greater interpersonal relationships.

As Fowler explains, “At the end of the day, when you have given someone feedback that is in context, informative, and not judgmental, and that helps them improve, you’ve demonstrated that you care about them. It is a wonderful way to demonstrate caring.”

Managers obviously have to be role models. They have to be giving the kind of feedback that they themselves want to get—

not only from their managers but also from their direct reports.

“Giving effective feedback takes work,” says Fowler. “You have to do homework. You have to gather the data. You have to plan it. You have to deliver it authentically. But when you do, it is servant leadership in action.”

November 6, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Professional Life, Giving Feedback, Growth, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Ways to Grow from Negative Feedback

Oh no! The dreaded review. Your boss has just given you some feedback. Sure, most of it was positive but some was negative. Or maybe a co-worker just passed something on to you showing you where you are falling short. Our natural response? “Who does he think he is?” Or “What business does she have telling me that, she does _____________________.” 

Few of us do naturally well with complaints and criticism. Sadly, when we react this way and filter out what people are saying to us, we miss some golden opportunities to help others and reach our potential.


Key #1: Don’t filter out the feedback, ask growth questions.

Follow the advice of Roger Connors and Tom Smith in their great book, Journey to the Emerald City, the follow up to their awesome book The Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organizational Accountability. Instead of filtering the feedback, ask three simple questions.

  1. Is this a belief I want people to have?
  2. Will this belief get in the way of my desired results?
  3. What can I do to change this belief?

Think about it. Does it really matter if your boss does the same thing for which she has just criticized you? Does it really matter if the guy pointing out your flaw is the youngest and newest guy in the company? Does it matter if the person who has accurately described your shortcoming is the oldest and most out of date and backward person you’ve ever met? NO! NO! and NO!

What matters is are you engendering in people the confidence they need to trust you and rely on you and turn to you. So, don’t filter out the feedback to salve your conscience. Ask the right questions to promote growth.


Key #2: Reinterpret the complaint as expressions of need.

Instead of letting the complaint be about you, reinterpret it in a way that says something about the person making the complaint, listening to the complaint as an expression of the person’s needs.

For instance, your boss complains in your review because your reports aren’t clear and concise enough. Don’t walk away saying, “I’ll show you clear and concise, pal.” Instead recognize the request in this. See the need your boss has. What the boss is saying is the demands on his time are great and what he really needs from you are reports that he can work through quickly because they are lucid, logical and brief. He isn’t rejecting you. He isn’t saying you are a bad worker. He’s saying he needs some help from you. Wow. How great that is that you can really help your boss.

Perhaps a subordinate complains to your superior about how you are never available for consultation and help. Instead of blowing up about all your time constraints and how you don’t have time, recognize the need being expressed behind this. What does this complaint say about the needs your subordinates have. They are not rejecting you. They are not saying they don’t want to work under you. They are not saying other managers are better than you. They are instead saying that they need guidance from you. They need more than just a figurehead manager or boss who lays out guidelines and offers goals but then leaves them alone. They need someone who is actually invested in their success and will help them when they are struggling.

Yes, yes, I know there are situations where you have to say some reports are just going to be complex and you don’t want to enable lack of initiative for your subordinates. But if you want to grow and reach your potential, reinterpret complaints as expressions of needs and ways to help the people who are offering them.

October 30, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Professional Life, Growth | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Questions for a Real Disciple Learned from Someone Who Was Only Almost a Disciple

The Rich Young Ruler

We’ve all heard of him. The man presented himself as a great disciple who had kept God’s law from his youth. But in the end, we find out that really he was only almost a disciple. I don’t want to be in that boat. I want to be a really, truly, totally and all the way a disciple. How about you? 

When I examine his story in Luke 18:18-23, I find three questions that will force us out of the shallow end of discipleship and push us into the deep end of true discipleship.

Three Questions

Question #1: Do I live as though Jesus is merely good or truly God?

The Rich Young Ruler called Jesus “good teacher” and Jesus called him on it. Jesus wasn’t questioning His own deity. Rather, He was highlighting a problem the man had. He called Jesus good, but did he really believe Jesus was the ultimate good? Did he recognize that Jesus was actually more than a good teacher and that He was God in the flesh?

We listen to a good teacher when we want to. We listen to a good teacher when we like what he says. We listen to a good teacher as long as we still think he is good. We take a good teacher’s words as advice, something to do when we get around to it. That is not how we take God’s words. Jesus’ words are not just good advice, nice suggestions or possibilities. Jesus was more than a good teacher. He was and is God. Therefore His word is law. 

When we live as though Jesus is truly God, then we surrender to His word. When He says, “He that believes and is baptized will be saved,” we believe and get baptized. When He says “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger,” we don’t let the sun go down on our anger. When He says “Treat others as more important than yourself,” we treat others as more important than ourselves.

Why do we do this? Because we know Jesus is not just a good teacher. He is the Great God.

Question #2: Who is my God?

The Rich Young Ruler said he had followed all the 10 commandments since his youth. He had not committed theft, murder, false witness or adultery. He had honored his father and mother. What a great man he was. How could he not possibly be a great disciple and inherit eternal life?

As we study this text, we realize this poor man actually was lying to himself. One of those commandments said, “Do not have other gods before Me.” Yet the Rich Young Ruler clearly had a god before Jehovah. His God was his material goods. He couldn’t possibly sacrifice them to have the eternal life God offered. Through that, he demonstrated who his real god was.

So, who is your God? Learn the lesson of the Rich Young Ruler. We can easily lie to ourselves and tell ourselves that Jesus is our God and runs our lives. Instead of just trusting what we’ll say when put to the test, let’s examine our lives. Where do we spend our time? Where do we spend our money? Who are best friends? What would we not give up if God asked? These questions can help us cut to the chase.

Or ask a friend. Ask your spouse. If you have kids, ask them. “What do you see is most important in my life?” They’ll be able to tell you and that can help you determine who your God really is. Don’t be like the almost disciple and simply trust your intellectual answer to the question. Dig deep and examine with rigorous honesty.

Question #3: What do I value?

At first glance, the Rich Young Ruler appeared to value eternal life. He came asking about it. Further, he claimed to have scrupulously kept the law since his youth. Even more, he was willing to go beyond that asking what more he needed to do. 

However, as we see the story unfold, we find out that he did not truly value eternal life. Eternal life was not a driving core value. It was merely an aspiration. He would like eternal life if he could get it but not at the expense of his material goods. Through we find out what was his driving core value–Money. He valued money and material goods. That drove his decisions. He would be happy to keep God’s law until God’s law told him to give up his goods. 

What do you value? Again, don’t just accept whatever you say when asked this intellectual question. We all know the right answer and can give it whenever asked. Instead of looking at this intellectual answer, we need to examine our lives. What drives our choices? Is it the pursuit of God’s kingdom and righteousness or is it the pursuit of wealth, fame and influence? 


Be careful. As we can see in the Rich Young Ruler, these are tough questions because we can so easily deceive ourselves. Don’t just ask them once. Ask them repeatedly. Question yourself like this regularly. Question your choices with these questions, especially those big life decisions like where will you work, who will you marry, where will you live, with what church will you work. 

Don’t be only almost a disciple like the Rich Young Ruler. Be all the way a disciple.


October 27, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Spiritual Life, Christian living, Discipleship, Growth, Spiritual Growth | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment