Want a culture of candor?

By Roger Henderson via cobizmag.com   Article

“Does your culture play it safe, avoid discussing differences and raising issues? Is the price for raising an issue greater than the cost of keeping quiet? … Or, does your culture transcend our human characteristics of fight or flee, and work to be open, speak with candor, and to do so accurately?

A key aspect of shifting a culture to increased candor and accuracy is how leaders are conversing and the example they are modeling. …

Gathering verbal feedback can be viewed from 360 degrees – a review with feedback from bosses, peers, direct reports and customers. A verbal 360 – when executed well – can be extremely helpful to the leaders and combat avoidance and fight cultures. …

Your purpose is to gather an accurate understanding of your effectiveness and where you can improve. Reviewers will sniff out any underlying intent that is not spoken (e.g. hoping just to hear positive feedback), and may unwittingly encourage them to avoid real feedback/

Plan who you want to interview and have representation from around you (up, down, sideways, peers, and perhaps customers). Identify at least one person in each area. …

Invite participants. Assuming they say yes, schedule at least half an hour. Hold the meeting in their office or somewhere they choose. …

Set the context. State the purpose and let them know you are interested in their perspective.

Use standardized questions. … Below are standard questions I prescribe. Add clarifying questions as they come up throughout the interview process.

What have you noticed about my leadership when it is effective?’ …

‘What have you noticed about my leadership when it is less effective or not effective?’ or, Where might I make improvements?’

What recommendations do you have for me to increase my effectiveness in the next few months?’  – a close timeframe draws out actionable advice.

Taking notes from each person helps you remember and shows that you value their input. When you are done, ask yourself: ‘What themes are in this feedback?’

For low-hanging fruit (suggestions you immediately want to commit to), commit right away. then with the reviewer and document your commitment as you will want to include this in a follow-up.

Aftermath: Sit down with each reviewer to let them know what you learned, changes you are making and to see if they notice differences. Schedule these meetings far enough out to give your changes a chance to be seen, yet soon enough to make course corrections.”

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