I think there's this belief of putting ourselves in someone's shoes and then we try to imagine if we were in that situation. That's not what I'm talking about when I say perspective taking. We wanna imagine them in that situation. The team member that worked all year towards finishing this project and then it didn't land or it got canceled.
We wanna put ourselves in that perspective, that person that's been working. Four years to get a promotion and they were really close and they'd missed it.
Welcome to the Managing Made Simple podcast, where I bring a decade of experience working in some of the most influential companies in tech to help you navigate the ins and outs of being a people manager from conflicts to feedback, to delegating and more. We will leave no stone unturned when it comes to what makes us love managing, kind of hate it and everything in between.
Doesn't matter if you're a new manager looking for some tips or a seasoned manager looking up their game. Everyone is welcome to hang out with Managing Made Simple. Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. Welcome back to the show. Today I am flying high because yesterday I facilitated a manager development workshop in person and I love doing stuff in person.
I gotta say, I do a ton of stuff on Zoom. It's awesome. It goes great, and there is something special about being together. In a room feeling that energy folks just looking around and seeing, hey, someone else is going through the same experience as I am. So if you have the budget, if you can, if you're mostly remote or distributed, bringing people together, it is really powerful for fostering connection, building more empathy for kind of being a reset to then go off and, and be working in our separate places.
I know it's not possible for everyone, but it is worth investing in if you can. Anyway, the kind of topics that we talked about in the training were coaching and guiding. I talk a lot about this in my coaching episode, how to really help your team show up as owners, how do you help them be accountable, not solve problems for them so that they both can step up as leaders and you can take work off your plate as a manager.
We talked about elevating and amplifying the importance of recognition. We talked about helping our teams grow and in this one of the themes, one of the things people kept asking questions about was how feedback. Shows up in the whole mix, and feedback is something that we can never talk about enough when talking about stuff around managers.
We can never overdo it because feedback is one of the hardest things about being a manager. First of all, we have our own baggage we bring to feedback. The feedback that landed really well, but maybe was hard to hear at first, the feedback that didn't land well, the feedback we never got that. We wish we got the non-specific positive feedback that was like just loosely helpful.
The great feedback a manager gave us that we loved but can't really remember how exactly they deliver that message. We bring so many things to the table when it's, when feedback's at play, which makes it hard to give feedback as a manager. Then we add. All of our concern and worry around how someone is going to receive the message.
And what I wanted to talk about today was all of the assumptions that we can bring to the table that can actually make this a lot more difficult, both for us as the givers of the feedback, delivering the feedback, and really compromise the way it lands with a team member. And when we make these assumptions, We have to understand that the generalizations are so problematic because they create biases and judgments and, and exclusions, and they also are often incorrect and don't give us the full story.
And so some of the generalizations that people were asking about, not, not in a bad way, but they were saying, you know, well, how do I give feedback? I'm Gen X. How do I give feedback effectively to Gen Z? You know, gen X is this, we just kind of like want to hear, you know, tell me what's wrong and I'll fix it.
And Gen Z is more sensitive. You can't, you know, give constructive. Or I heard, how do I give feedback as a man to a woman? I don't wanna hurt someone's feelings or question. You know, I'm from this culture and this is my style. I'm very direct and this person's from this, this culture. You know, how do I make sure it lands?
And those three things, those three questions, cultural differences, generalization differences, gender, what we're applying to that are generalizations. That, you know, I'm this, this person's that, therefore the message isn't gonna land and I already know how it's gonna go. And again, this is really problematic because it brings bias in the conversation and it will prevent you from delivering a message effectively because you are, instead of building empathy and trying to figure out, well, what's gonna work for that person, you decided you already know.
So I want us in this conversation to let go of three. The first thing I want us to let go of is, is these I generalizations about an identity group that this generation believes this, this one believes that, that this gender or this culture deals with feedback this way, and this one deals with this way.
Let me give you an example. The Culture Map by Erin Meyer. Fantastic study of differences in communications across different geographies in in regions and language. And she talks about direct versus indirect communication style or high context versus low context. You know, an American manager giving feedback to a French employee or German to a Japanese employee.
And how these language differences in, in your directness in communication style can affect, you know, the alignment and understanding what each person's talking about, right? If someone uses the old, let's call it what it is, the shit sandwich feedback style where you give a compliment, you know, the polished turd in the middle, and then another compliment.
Based on your communication style in one culture, maybe you only hear the negative part. Or another culture, you only hear the positive and miss the negative thing completely. But these are patterns and generalizations, this doesn't mean that just because you speak this language or are from this country that that's how you're gonna interpret the feedback.
And that's why it's so important to talk to our employees. Because we could have an employee who is from Japan, spent 12 years in Germany, then moved to Canada, and then lived in South America somewhere for a while, and we're making an assumption based on something we think we know, when we really don't know.
Instead, we have to take away from that. That actually anybody in any situation could interpret a message differently. That's the true part. The generalization is because they're this, then that, that's what we wanna shake. So that's the first thing. We wanna let go of a generalization and we take something like the shit sandwich or compliment sandwich if you prefer.
And we say, this is because of that person's X, Y, Z. That's what gets in. Instead, we can take something like the compliment sandwich and say, Hey, when I'm delivering feedback to you, what works? Do you wanna hear? What's going well? Do you want me to just jump to the point? What works for you? So that's how we shed that assumption.
Instead of making it generalization, we ask our team members, Hey, we have a hard conversation. Let's say, you know, we're talking about feedback in our performance review, or I have to give you something constructive feedback. What way works for you with that? Now we've understood by talking to them what works, we can shed that generalization.
Next thing I want us to let go of is this belief. This wouldn't bother me and therefore, well, this is what works for me and therefore this will really get us in trouble when delivering feedback because it's like I, I don't know, I, it feels so obvious, okay. To say like, yeah, that would work for you. Who.
You're giving feedback to another person who freaking cares if that would work for you or not. When you're giving feedback, the way that it lands is when it's in the way in which it's going to land for the other person. So I just gave the suggestion of, of talking to someone saying, what works for you?
Same thing. We're giving positive feedback saying, Hey, in what way it works for you to get recognition. For example, when a company I was in before had these things, like a pure bonus where you would give someone, I don't know, like $75 was kinda like a thank you and you could send it directly to that person or their manager could add their whole team and, and do like reply all bonanza, where you could get like 50 reply alls.
Great job, great job. Some people liked that. Some people didn't. And I think that's a great example of asking a team member saying, Hey, you know, when I thank you, do you want the group to see so everyone can kind of celebrate with you? Or do you want that just to be kind of a private one-on-one? Ask the person and then they will tell you.
We don't wanna assume what works for me or what I would want works for someone else. It's really important when we're delivering feedback, when we're delivering a hard message, not saying, well, this wouldn't bother me because we have no idea if that would bother someone else or not. Instead of saying, well, this wouldn't bother me.
We wanna take on their perspective. Now I wanna distinguish this. This does not mean thinking well. Like again, would this bother me or not? I think there's this belief of putting ourselves in someone's shoes and then we try to imagine if we were in that situation. That's not what I'm talking about. When I say perspective taking.
We wanna imagine them in that situation. The team member that worked all year towards finishing this project and then it didn't land or it got canceled. We wanna put ourselves in that perspective, that person that's been working for. Four years to get a promotion and they were really close and they'd missed it.
We wanna adopt that perspective saying like, what is that person going through? The disappointment, the fears, the stress, the anxiety, the excitement, whatever it is, put ourselves in that person's head space, not imagining ourselves. Okay. It's different. I know I just kind of said it the same thing. It's a different thing saying this person, what are they going?
I may not have felt it before. I may not have been there, but I understand it. So that is the difference there. And then when we can take on that perspective, we may not agree with it. This is perspective taking. We don't have to agree. We don't have to have been there. We don't have to think that we would respond that way, but we're saying, I get it.
I get this is what's going on in their mind. And then we give feedback from that perspective. That will help us give so much more empathy. Because the question came up in the workshop of, well, how do I put myself in someone's shoes when I've never been in that situation. Maybe . I had great technical skills and I never really struggled with this thing, and I feel like the thing they're stuck on is pretty simple.
How am I supposed to have empathy for that? It's not about if you would have that situation, it's saying, okay, so this didn't happen to you, but that team member, they're really working hard to get that figure out, that technical problem. They keep getting stuck. They're questioning if this career is for them.
That's their perspective. Now, what might that person need to hear to be able to land that message, to be able to feel supported, to be able to move forward? That's the perspective taking. Third thing we wanna let go of is biasing one experience, like having that put a lens on future feedback. Sometimes we give feedback to a person and it lands really badly.
I have given feedback to team members where. I said, you know, in my most kind of not direct, like really could use some training on feedback in my early days as a manager saying, Hey, you know, I just wanna give you some feedback. This thing didn't work out as well as I know you'd hoped. I know you've been trying hard.
But, uh, it was like so non-specific and they said, how can you say this to me? Like, all my managers are always attacking me, and it went so badly and I'm like, I was trying to be so nice, i, I was, I was trying to pad it with all these things and it just went badly. There's a lot of times when feedback goes wrong.
I think this is why it's so scary as a manager, right, because it doesn't go well a lot of the times, even when you try really hard. I went on to get a lot of coaching and learning feedback. Obviously I teach giving feedback and, and still it doesn't always go well, but we don't wanna let that shape sort of creating a story for ourselves around I'm not good at giving feedback or feedback never goes well, or that person can't receive feedback, don't wanna label this person can or cannot do this. We don't wanna go there because that's just closing ourselves off to this skill. That's the most important skill to build as a manager, is being able to give feedback effectively.
If we've had a bad experience with a series of people, or we had a bad experience getting feedback with one employee, to let go of deciding, it's never going to work out. We can't give feedback to that person. They're not receptive, we're not good at it. Whatever store we layer on and instead we wanna try again, we wanna build our skills.
This is why I teach feedback as one of my core workshops for teams, because it's something we could literally do a training on once a quarter and never be done. There's always ways to build more confidence, build more skills, build more comfort. By practicing, by getting feedback on our own feedback by self-reflecting, thinking, where am I getting stuck?
Where am I uncomfortable? What am I bringing to the conversation? So we're never done with feedback. And if we are finding ourselves afraid of giving feedback because we've had bad experiences, all this is is a signal saying, I need a little bit of support. I need a little bit of help here. I need some coaching.
I need maybe some air cover from my manager, someone to help me see , am I looking at this thing the right way? Maybe there's other people that can help deliver that message. Maybe I'm not the right person to deliver the message, whatever it is, but if we're afraid we gotta let go of this didn't work, so it's never gonna work again.
Because feedback, you hate to say it. It is part of your job as a manager. That is a couple things of how we let go of some of these places that will get stuck around giving feedback. Believing, , this would work for me, so it should work with them. We wanna let go of that. We wanna let go of any generalizations around an identity group.
Because that's gonna create bias. It's going to make a decision about how this conversation's gonna go when we really have no idea and we want to let go of believing because of one bad experience, t his next experience is gonna be really bad when we do that. We can show up to the conversation more ready, more accessible, more present.
And the biggest thing that we do, the biggest takeaway is how do we know how feedback's gonna land with someone? By talking to them, by having a conversation. Especially, key here when the tensions are low, having a conversation and saying, let's talk about, this is called designed alliance in coaching.
This is called many different things, having a conversation. About how do we want to have hard conversations? You know, do you wanna hear what's going well? Do you wanna just cut to the chase? Do you wanna be notified when feedback's coming? Do you want in the moment? Do you want to, you know, what are the things that have worked for you in, in the past?
What hasn't worked for you in the past? We wanna get that on the table because then we have a roadmap for having conversations with our team members. And if you're worrying that this is gonna take too much time, it's one conversation, it's 15 minutes, it will get you so much more set up for success.
Because what takes a lot longer than that 15 minute conversation is having to have five feedback conversations about the same topic. Because the message when, when in one ear and out the other, that's the consequence. I think the least consequence is someone kind of missed the point and the most is that they feel excluded, they feel othered.
They feel like, wow, this person doesn't get it. My manager's not there for me, my manager has a bias against me. It can be really, really rough if we don't take action around building our skills in this area. Now, if you wanna dive more into this, please let me know. Feedback is one of the areas I love the most to support managers around because I think it's the highest leverage place to build connection with our teams.
It's the way we can help our teams see their full potential. So if you wanna learn. Send me a message at [email protected] and we can talk about the workshop. And don't forget to get on my text list. I'm gonna be hosting Q&A sessions on Zoom where I answer all of your questions. So bring all your feedback questions to those conversations.
Just text the word MANAGER to 415 234 5716 and you can be notified to when these are coming. These are exclusive just to my text community, so you can get on that list again by texting manager to 415 234 5716. See you next time.
That's all I have for today. Thank you so much for tuning in to the Managing Made Simple Podcast where my goal is to demystify the job of people management so that together we can make the workplace somewhere everyone can thrive.
I always love to hear from you, so please reach out at liagarvin.com or message me on LinkedIn. See you next time.