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I am passionate about making a difference to people and organisations- and I guess there are many who would like to do the same. I hope this could be a platform to share views and experiences so that we can all grow together and make a difference.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Little things that make a difference....feedback

Genuine, honest performance discussions can have a profound impact on people and their careers. A significant moment comes to my mind and I thought I would share that with you- again, one of those little things that can make a big diffference.

This happened when I was about 3 - 4 years into my career, after having passed out from XLRI. I was the personnel manager of a factory, which employed almost 500 contract labour on a regular basis. We all knew this was not sustainable and that a change in the business model was needed - but for a couple of years this was falling between the cracks. The factory thought that the Head Office should do something and the Head Office thought that this was a factory issue. In this context, I had a review discussion with my skip manager - who was running the business. He began by asking what I did in the last few months. I wanted to give an impression of how busy I was and told him that I did everything from recruiting, training to running volleyball and cricket tournaments for the workers there. He smiled cynically and said "You are talking like my daughter! When I ask her what she did during the day, she says that she did some history, some english, some science, some play, etc". I realized this discussion was not going where I thought it should go. My heart sank and suddenly I found myself stuttering like those misfiring old fat-fatiyas or tuk-tuks! He then slowly built up my thinking on key priorities and asked me to take ownership of that big contract labour problem, and make a proposal. That discussion changed the next 4 years of my career - we made a breakthrough proposal, implemented it over a year and at the end I moved from HR to run a part of manufacturing and supply-chain in the business.

On reflection, what did that discussion do:
·         It was honest and genuine, and gave me feedback that my priorities were wrong
·         He coached me on thinking about the biggest strategic risk/priorities and how I could do something
·         He supported me and the factory in going beyond what we thought was our role
·         Finally, this linked into my own development and movement to a cross functional role over time.

I guess a feedback discussion can be really powerful - it has the potential to change lives. It is not another chit-chat - it is core to the individual's life and career, and if we do it  with genuine and honest intent, in a safe and supportive manner, it can work wonders! It is clearly one of those small things that can make a big differrence. I guess we all have such moments to share.....

5 comments:

  1. Hey Shankar - absolutely resonate with the fact that its always important to have the 'right' priorities; as opposed to just being busy in carrying out tasks! Guess you were lucky that the factory manager steered the disucssion in the right direction...

    ...What if you are in a situation where you know whats the right thing to do; but your manager does not cooperate (one, because he does not understand the larger picture & two, he is worried about 'how come a junior has better ideas!'); would you have suggestions to deal with this issue effectively? thanks

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  2. I cannot agree more with you that Intent is paramount in feedaback. Feedback receivers are willing to bear with lack of skill but not intent. Is the feedback grounded in genuine concern for the development & release of potential. Of course the third piece is content. This is where people managers' who observe behavior and are aware of th "How" of achievements gain credibility & acceptance.
    Hence the sequence is Intent - Content - Skill.

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  3. Genuine, honest performance discussions can have a profound impact on people and their careers. A significant moment comes to my mind and I thought I would share that with you- again, one of those little things that can make a big diffference.

    ReplyDelete