Developmental Feedback

Whether you’re raising kids or leading a team, how you provide developmental feedback will determine the extent your effectiveness. Do it poorly and your own objectives may be at risk. Do it well and you will attract the best and brightest.

Like all communication, effective feedback is a combination of style and substance.

And the style can be dependent on the situation.

In their  classic book on customer care, “Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service“, the people at The Disney Institute articulate four priorities, in order of importance.

Safety: Providing for the welfare and peace of mind of guests.
Courtesy: Treating every guest as a VIP–a very important, and very individual person.
Show: Seamless and exceptional entertainment for guests.
Efficiency: Smooth operations of the theme parks and resorts.

Where safety is concerned, the feedback is not wrapped in the traditional Disney “magic”. It’s direct, to the point and in command mode. And it’s interesting to note that efficiency is almost a byproduct of prioritizing courtesy and customer experience. We are always looking for ways to get more done with a greater return on the investment of time, talent and treasure. Smart people figure out the sweet spot where customer experience meets operational effectiveness.

Profitable relationships exist in the golden circle where an individual perceives that the “get” is ahead of the “give”.

We most often invest our resources in activities and tools that add ongoing value to our lives. Repeat business is directly tied to how what we bought makes us feel about ourselves.

How do we motivate people to want to find that golden circle and aspire to live inside of it?

Developmental Feedback begins with the Story.

The best leaders can vividly articulate their vision. They can “sell” the story. Coaches who consistently win over the long haul paint a picture of victory. Their mental backpacks are filled with examples of challenge and redemption, punctuated with the habits that are common to all winners.

Developmental Feedback includes examples of excellence.

The best performers have a portfolio of role models. They selected them with care and incorporate the best behaviors of each individual into their own daily routine. The best leaders are able to distill the secret sauce of success into a toolbox of activities. Excellence is a daily continuum of growth and improvement, not an end result. With practice, activities become habits. Habits fuel forward progress. Forward progress eventually is transformative. We become what we repeatedly do.

Developmental Feedback is metric based.

Whether you seek a target weight, income or position, your ability to discern and measure the numbers associated with success will crucial to attaining it. Big numbers are the end result of a calculus of smaller numbers. The number of reps in the weight room, the number of aspirational contacts, the hours spent learning new skills; for better or worse these small numbers ultimately generate an end result. Attention to the small stuff ultimately leads to what happens with the big stuff.

Developmental Feedback avoids the negative.

There are endless examples of coaches inadvertently programming the opposite behavior into a player’s brain. “Don’t throw a high and outside pitch. This batter loves those,” is one real world example. Better programming would be, “Keep it low and inside and you’ll strike him out.” Sharing examples of how things are done right, topped with affirmation that you believe someone can do it right creates an inner environment where an individual feels motivated to want to do it right.

Developmental Feedback is most often given in private.

The classic chestnut “Praise in public, correct in private,” has endured for good reason. Nothing is more de-motivating than to experience a dress down in front of your peers. It’s true that some successful coaches have had legendary tempers. And we all lose our cool from time to time. But negativity ultimately drives people away. Those who remain may still show up, but you won’t get their best efforts. Some companies can “succeed” with this culture, but that definition of success is ultimately empty. Both customers and team members will be susceptible to competitive encroachment and the enterprise will ultimately crumble.

What motivates you?

The two basic motivators in life are Fear and Desire.

We are more likely to make bad decisions in an environment of fear. These are short term, knee jerk reactions that are tension relieving and not goal achieving.

The more powerful motivators connect with our desires, the hopes and dreams we all carry in our hearts to become the best people we can be.

Create your own personal developmental feedback loop. Know the story you intend to write in detail. Constantly be seeking examples of people, tools and skills that can help you write that story. Know the metric mileposts that can guide you in the direction of that which you seek. Create an attitude of positive expectancy. Assume your dreams can be come real and that you will find the cook book to make them so. Develop an attitude of gratitude and avoid negativity. Your public persona should exude humble confidence. Seek out something to appreciate in everyone you meet and find a way to add value and build self esteem in every interaction.

You won’t be able to do all of these things every day. Events intrude and there will be seasons in your life that may feel pretty dark and unfulfilling.

But never lose faith in the ultimate outcome. Great things happen because one person dreamed it and decided to make it real.

Learn to be the that person and what you radiate out into the world will inevitably reflect back at you.