As someone who quite likes to talk, I remind myself that we were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listening fully, and being curious, is so important. In this blog, I am sharing a tool that helps you do this when leading teams.
When I have conducted leadership training, participants have raved about this tool, yet it is so simple. It involves using four questions to support listening, being curious and giving feedback, thus approriately called the 4 step feedback tool*. The four questions asked encourage your team member to reflect and give themselves feedback, and allows you to then provide feedback too. It‘s so useful for supporting team member self-awareness, and for building effective relationships.
One program participant, Alan, couldn‘t believe how it changed his weekly one on one meetings. It went from him talking 80% of the time, to him listening 80% of the time – and he gained much more information and insight about what his team members were doing, enabling him to offer more targetted support.
It works this way. You set up a meeting with your team member, and start by asking them Step 1 – what they did well that week/project/meeting etc. Step 2 involves asking what they would do differently next time. In Step 3, you share what you think they could do differently next time, finishing up with Step 4 – what you think they did well.
I want to point out a few things. In Steps 1 and 2, spend time asking how, and what else. It is often not until the second ‘what else’ that you start to really hear what is going on. By the third ‘what else’, their words are flowing! Secondly, I use words like well and next time deliberately. Well is safer to respond to than judgement words like good and bad. And differently next time focuses on what lessons they have learnt that they can apply in the future.
Is this just a workplace tool? Definitely not. I have used it with my teenagers, in other non-work situations i.e. a community choir I am in, and sometimes with friends – often to ensure they recognise and acknowledge themselves for what went well, rather than what didn’t! We do tend to be our own worst critic!
I use it as a prompt for myself personally, too. After I played an MC role for a work event involving 160 people recently, I took 10 minutes later that evening to reflect on what I did well and what I would do differently next time.
Try it out for yourself or others, and drop me an email to share how you go firstname.lastname@example.org
*various versions of this may exist, but a good friend and colleague, Howard Boorman, introduced me to it first (http://www.thespacebetween.com.au/howard_boorman_14.html)