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Chapter 7. Providing Feedback to Difficu... > Feedback—a Major Tool for Change - Pg. 65

Providing Feedback to Difficult Employees 65 Feedback--a Major Tool for Change None of us can improve our behavior or performance without understanding exactly what we need to change and what we need to change it to. This is such a basic process that we take it for granted. For example, when we drive, we constantly collect information from around us and alter our steering and braking according to the information we collect. Of course, it happens quickly so we don't notice the process of obtaining that feedback. When we drive, though, the feedback is part of the activity; that is, it is inherent in the task. Crash into a pole and you don't need anyone to tell you a mistake occurred. Insider Secrets Although we might not be aware of it, we are almost always taking in information from around us (feedback) and modifying what we do on the fly. The problem is that we (and difficult people) don't always pay attention to the right feedback or interpret it in the ways those who gave it to us expect. The feedback process works best when the recipient of the feedback is not defensive and is open to hearing it. But there's a responsibility on the feedback giver's side, also. The feedback giver needs to phrase the feedback in ways that make it easier for the recipient to hear. As a manager you have two responsibilities. To be open to feedback about you, and to give feedback so that it is constructive and easy to "hear". There are many situations where the information (or feedback) from the environment is hard to figure out. Such is the case with many interpersonal behaviors or the ways a person communicates or interacts with others. Think of it this way. You go on a first date, and it's time to say goodnight. Do you kiss or not? What does the feedback or information from the other person indicate? Well, that's kind of hard to tell, isn't it? Often the information we get from people is ambiguous and difficult to interpret. It's actually the same for some inanimate things. Consider health. A person with poor eating habits (high fat and calories, low nutrition) may let decades pass until the body provides its feedback in the form of a heart attack--and then it's too late. So you can see that sometimes the effects of behaviors are delayed. While all of us need feedback to do things effectively, it's not always naturally occurring in the world around us. So, let's get back to difficult people. Because some people are oblivious to how they affect others, one way of helping them change is to make them aware of the results of their behaviors. Given the opportunity and realizing that they affect others in negative ways can often motivate difficult people to change their behaviors. The Different Faces of Feedback Feedback involves sitting down with someone and giving some specific, nonconfrontational infor- mation about how the person may be affecting you and others. However, that's just one form of feedback, and while it's an important one, giving feedback that really changes people's behavior is a bit more complex than that. We need to look at the different dimensions of feedback, because that will allow us to better utilize the feedback-related tools we have available to us.