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How to ask for, give and receive feedback…

How to ask for helpful feedback:

  • Be specific about what you’re asking for
  • Choose the right people to ask
  • Make it easy by posing incisive questions

How to give helpful feedback:

  • Wait until it’s asked for
  • Ask any clarifying questions
  • Give it privately where possible
  • Be specific and actionable
  • Get to the point
  • Don’t justify or make excuses
  • Be honest

How to receive helpful feedback:

  • Take it as advice, not a criticism
  • Keep an open mind
  • Listen to understand
  • You don’t have to turn it into a ‘thing’
  • You get to choose what you do with it
  • Follow up with gratitude

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What got you here is EXACTLY what will get you there:

  1. Seeing yourself as a continual work in progress.
  2. Developing stronger connections with great people.
  3. Improving your work ethic and your abilities as a team player.
  4. Creating value for others through your work.
  5. Continually improving your skills as a leader and communicator.
  6. Developing and improving self-awareness and self-confidence.
  7. Making decisions within your known values and principles.

Interestingly, these are factors we all have complete control over.

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On having tough conversations…

Much of my work involves facilitating tough conversations.

Sometimes I initiate them, and sometimes I’m invited to join them.

Sometimes they go well. Sometimes not so much.

In most cases, I know when it’s coming. Occasionally, if I’m not paying attention, it will sneak up on me.

Regardless, having the ability to navigate complicated and difficult conversations is something I’m continually working on being better at.

Here’s an example of how I remind myself of who I want to be during difficult conversations:

  1. Lead with questions.
  2. Be genuinely curious.
  3. Be friendly.
  4. Listen to understand.
  5. Pay attention.
  6. Don’t make assumptions.
  7. Don’t take it personally.
  8. Don’t get defensive.
  9. Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.
  10. Treat feedback as advice, not criticism.
  11. Stay within my integrity.
  12. Don’t compromise on my standards.
  13. Remember, we’re all born to work together.

I don’t always know when a difficult conversation may arise, but when I know it’s going to be tough I find it helpful to literally write this list out prior to meetings so I can be in the best frame of mind.

I’d love to know how you set yourself up to be a great communicator in difficult circumstances.

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On becoming a mentor…

At our final team meeting of the year I asked: ‘Name one person, and what they did, that had a dramatic impact on you in the last year.’

It opened up a powerful conversation where we expressed recognition and gratitude for the people that have helped us.

There were three types of people that had an impact on all of us:

1. Mentors – Someone to learn from
2. Peers – Someone to challenge us
3. Mentees – Someone to teach

One person went as far to say that the person that had *the single greatest impact* on him this year was his understudy and mentee – isn’t that interesting?

He’s had many teachers throughout his professional career, but only one or two mentee’s.

It’s all too common to discuss the benefits of mentorship from the perspective of the mentee, and rare to consider the benefits of becoming the mentor and how that leads to a dramatic shift in personal growth.

There are three levels of learning that we all have to go through – we have to study, then practice and the final stage of learning is to teach.

As leaders, I wonder what would happen if we helped everyone at work to become great mentors? How dramatic would the impact be on professional growth, and the growth of the company as a whole?

What’s front of mind for you?

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YOU are what makes your work special…

When Abby Wambach retired from professional soccer she had a difficult period of adjustment where she was afraid that losing soccer meant that she was losing herself.

Like most of us, a large part of our identity is shaped by the work we do.

We’ll all have to deal with the same challenge as Abby at some point in our careers – whether it’s something we control, or not.

Abby’s partner, Glennon Doyle, wrote this for Abby when she’s was struggling to figure out what retirement meant for her:

I don’t think the magic was on the field, Abby. I think the magic is inside of you. I think you’ll carry it with you until you die. *From out here, Abby, it is crystal clear that soccer didn’t make you special – you made soccer special.* You have lost nothing. You take it all with you. Soccer led us to you. Now we’ll follow. Not because of you as an athlete, because of you, my Abby.

You see, your work doesn’t make you who you are. You bring who you are to your work. And you get to take who you are to wherever you go next.

You don’t lose anything when you move on to something new, because you take you along with you.

It’s you that makes your work special.

Please don’t forget that.

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