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Providing feedback is a learned skill, therefore it can be practiced

By Emile Studham, 21st May 2019

One of the really big gaps that we’ve identified in the corporate space in comparison to pro sports is the lack of commitment to practicing and training in order to improve team performance.

When you look at pro sports teams and the amount of time they train and practice versus the amount of time they actually play the game, you will see a vastly different ratio when compared to the corporate world. Pro sports teams will often practice and train 6-10 x the amount of time they’ll be on the court/field.

How often, in your business life, are you practicing and sharpening your saw, trying new things, practicing a new skill in an environment where it’s okay to make mistakes?

That’s a great thing about practice, you can make mistakes and know there will be no business implications.

At Performance by Design, we define a high performing team as one where all team members can engage in open, honest and constructive conversations about performance, irrespective of positions on the team.

Giving and receiving feedback is a learned skill, therefore it can be practiced.

What we are trying to bring to your attention here is that there is in fact, many opportunities to practice and train at giving and receiving feedback.

How often are doing this within your corporate team?

You can run constructive feedback training sessions in order for people to practice giving and receiving feedback that has a positive impact on performance.

We call this “Real Talk”.

The issue is, if teams jump straight into having conversations about performance without the necessary framework that aligns them as a united team, they often get stuck in arguing. Arguing is one side of the story, trying to convince the other side of the story that they’re wrong and that they are right. This is not good for performance. This adversely affects performance because it takes the team too long to manage adversity because they are too busy arguing, rather than coming to a solid solution they can take action on. The faster any team can work their way through a challenge, the faster they can jump onto the next one.

In life we are usually jumping from challenge to challenge and those that manage this adversity faster than others, have more success. If you want to build a high performing corporate culture, we’d challenge you to adopt the mindset of embracing challenge/s. Look at a challenge through a competitive lens with the curiosity to ask yourself “How am I going to get this challenge with the best possible outcome?”

You want to meet these challenges head on and if you embrace them and know that you can manage your way through them with your teammates there to support you, then you’re going to be more likely to win because you’re going to get to the finish line faster.

The 2 important factors that play a huge role in this fast management of challenges, via engaging in “Real Talk”, comes in the way of:

  1. A framework for these conversations, which comes through defining your team’s purpose, values and behaviours.
  2. Practice and training of giving and receiving feedback, the more we practice something, the better we get.

We want to ensure teams make a genuine commitment to practicing giving and receiving feedback. It is a little and often system that allows the team to consistently fine tune itself.

It provides the team with clarity on what behaviors the team needs to keep, stop or start.

These constructive feedback sessions are deposits into the trust bank. Moments where team members can recognize each other for fine performance and opportunities to practice challenging each other. This in turn, allows the team members to consistently work on the things that matter most, high impact activities.

Over time, applying a commitment to these practice sessions, even when team members come and go, or the team simply grows in numbers, the team is progressing through whatever changes and challenges come their way, self-managing their way to success.