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Podcast Transcript

High Performing Teams Feedback and Celebrating Success

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:11  
Welcome to "Your Authentic Path to Powerful Leadership" with Marsha Clark. Join us on this journey where we're uncovering what it takes to be a powerful woman leader. Well, Marsha, we've arrived at the final episode in this little mini series on building and leading high performing teams. And we started with a focus on setting clear expectations. And then last week, we explored removing obstacles. So today, we're going to wrap up this discussion with providing quality, impactful feedback and celebrating success.

Marsha Clark  0:47  
Yes, Wendi. It really feels like we just started and yes, now we're almost done. It's gone by quickly and I am definitely looking forward to digging into today's content.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:48  
Yep, me too. So, once again, for our listeners who missed either of those last two episodes, will you do a quick recap?

Marsha Clark  1:06  
Yes, ma'am. So, the framework guiding our discussion is one that I adapted from Gallup along with a colleague of mine, Jerry Magar. He and I collaborated many years ago now on making the framework our own based on our own leadership experiences. And we've continued to tweak it over the years with input from our clients. And so the framework includes five basic components. And the first one is building trust by creating psychological safety specific to this framework, setting clear expectations, removing obstacles, providing feedback and celebrating successes. And so far over the past three weeks, we have focused episodes on the first three components, building trust with psychological safety, setting clear expectations, removing obstacles, and that brings us to where we are today.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:56  
And so, as we unpack today's content, I think it's important to remind everyone of the central significance of trust in the middle of this framework that we've been following in the series, especially in terms of being able to exchange meaningful and productive feedback.

Marsha Clark  2:13  
I agree, Wendi. And just as an aside for a moment, I hope our listeners are getting that everything we've shared, whether it be from Book 1 to Book 2, from Episode 1 to Episode 100, Episode 105 or whatever, that they build on each other, which is a part of why we continue to go back and look at tools we have previously discussed. And certainly this building trust is foundational to leading high performance teams. And so, that's why we keep coming back to that. And the trust model and framework that we use is based on the work of Dr. Dennis Reyna and Dr. Michelle Reyna and what they call their Dimensions of Trust model, which is included in their book "Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace". And in some ways every dimension of trust that they present, the trust of capability, the trust of character, and trust of communication relates to the ability of leaders to be able to use feedback as a powerful tool in their toolkit.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:21  
So, I know giving and receiving feedback is specifically called out in their trust of communication dimension of their model.

Marsha Clark  3:30  
You're right that they place feedback, both giving and receiving, in the trust of communication dimension. And I appreciate how they describe trust of communication as a factor that makes it safe for team members to talk with each other directly, not only to provide information to one another, but also to work through issues, concerns, and then offer feedback in the spirit of deeper learning and growth. So, through trusted communications teams practice transparency, they communicate openly and honestly, they feel free and safe to admit mistakes and they know where they stand with one another. And you can see, find out more information about this, the sources, the research report that was done in partnership with the Reynas, Dennis and Michelle, and the Center for Creative Leadership. And that description of trust of communication really reflects the role leaders play in creating that safe space where team members can be honest with the leader and each other. And that is a hallmark of high performance teams, that safety, honesty and transparency.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  4:41  
So, how do the other dimensions of character and competence impact feedback?

Marsha Clark  4:48  
So, the way the Reynas explained is that trust of character represents mutually serving intentions which means that my team members earnestly believe, sincerely believe, genuinely believe that we're all looking out for each other's best interests and those of the organization that we all belong to as well. And this is also the dimension of their model where we manage expectations, we establish boundaries, we keep agreements, we do what we say we're going to do. So, imagine trying to give some constructive feedback in the absence of this particular dimension of trust. So, that's why I say in both books where I reference feedback, it's critical that as a leader and a member of a high performance team that you always check your intention before giving feedback. Are you giving feedback in a moment of frustration? Are you venting your own anger, disappointment or whatever or is it because you believe your feedback can and will actually help the other person to do a better job the next time around?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  5:57  
And that makes so much sense. I mean, I'm not going to be real receptive to someone else's feedback to me if I don't trust their intention.

Marsha Clark  6:05  
That's right. It's exactly right. So they are 100% connected in the mind of the receiver. So, they don't have this illustrative model to refer to, but to them trusting the content of someone's feedback is 100% tied to the giver's character.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  6:24  
Yeah. And now I'm also seeing how trust of capability starts to play a role in the whole equation. You know, if I don't see you as having any expertise, or experience in a particular area, why would I trust your input on that topic?

Marsha Clark  6:39  
Yeah, it definitely speaks to credibility, and the Reynas share four specific behaviors under the dimension called trust of capability. One is acknowledging people skills and abilities, two, allowing them to make decisions, three, involving others and seeking their input and four, helping others learn skills. So, one of the easiest and most effective tools a leader has in their toolkit is to build and sustain any and all of those behaviors is providing feedback.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  7:11  
Okay, so feedback, is that all purpose utility tool in the leaders toolkit that can be used to build capacity and build trust with their team. I mean, no wonder you talk about this aspect in both "Embracing Your Power" and "Expanding Your Power".

Marsha Clark  7:29  
Goes back to that sort of that thread that runs through because it's tied to so many things and whether it is, you know, my authentic leadership and learning about myself, interpersonal relationships, leading teams and organizational systems.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  7:46  
And you also spotlight one of your favorite feedback tools in both books, your Seven Step Feedback model, and I know we did a whole episode on that model. It was episode 28 entitled "Talk To Me, Not About Me" back in March of 2022. So, what is it about that model that you find so valuable?

Marsha Clark  8:06  
So, first, the seven steps focus on behaviors being ineffective versus making the person a bad person. So, it's separating the acts from the human and we learn how to do that as children. We forget that we're still humans as adults. So, second, it prompts me to share the impact of these ineffective behaviors because many employees don't understand the ripple effects, if you will, of those behaviors, the things that they're ineffective performance causes for others. And then third, I either state or restate my expectations going forward. And I think these are all really important aspects of the model.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  8:48  
Yeah, what I appreciate about your model is that it is so much more personalized, or maybe humanized is a better word than other more abbreviated models. Your model still gets to some of the core elements that other common models focus on. So, what's the situation and behavior you want to address? What's the impact, etc. But your model really makes it more of a conversation, at least to me. That's how I take it.

Marsha Clark  9:18  
Yeah. And I think it all goes back to the feedback giver's intention. I often start feedback conversations with the following sentiment and you know, our listeners can come up with their own words, but these are pretty verbatim my words. And that is "I care about you and I want you to be successful." And I really mean that. It's not, again, just words. And I'm going to counter some advice here that I've heard many a person suggest or quote that they've been given or directed to do. And that is "May I give you some feedback?", asking for permission to give feedback. So, I want to share these two thoughts about that. If you are that employee's boss, it's your job to give them feedback. So, it's not about asking permission, it is you fulfilling the roles and responsibilities of your job as leader, and too, with good intentions. If I truly do care about you and want you to be successful and I've worked hard to build that mutually trusting relationship, then whoever I'm giving feedback to, that recipient, believes that I have their best interest in mind. So, I want to offer that as an important part of the model as well.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  10:35  
And I know that we covered the model extensively in the previous episode, but I think it's worth repeating the seven steps themselves here, just so our listeners don't necessarily have to go back into the archives for the content. So, will you walk us through the seven steps again, really quickly? I think it's I think this would be a refresher for anyone who's already familiar with it, also.

Marsha Clark  10:56  
Yeah, and maybe for those who did listen to the previous episode. You know, time has passed and  they may be hearing something today that they didn't pick up on before.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  11:04  
Great point.

Marsha Clark  11:05  
So, one thing we can do differently this time is work through the model using a positive example for feedback, versus the improvement example, if you will, that we used last time, and what I use in the book. And I want to say, you know, the Reyna model says giving and receiving constructive feedback. And constructive is also construed as bad. I didn't do well. I believe constructive feedback can be either positive feedback, or feedback for improvement. So, I just want to say that about feedback. Constructive feedback is the good, the bad, the ugly. All right. So, here's the step one that I want to take our listeners through. So, step one is state the behavior as specifically as you can. So, I'm thinking, Wendi, when you initiated, you and I and several others recently had a conversation about the idea of adding Sonic Branding to my business. And we, you set up, went about to set up the meeting for us to learn more about it with an expert in this particular approach because I knew nothing about it.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  12:21  
This is going to be interesting. Here we go. Okay, all right.

Marsha Clark  12:24  
So, step one, when you took the initiative to tell us about Sonic Branding and introduced us to your Sonic Branding colleague, I felt very good about that. Step two, and this is where we describe the impact of that behavior. And this could be the impact on the budget, a contractor, customer, potential customer relationship and quite honestly even your views on being able to trust that person. So, for our example, the impact really has been twofold. First, the impact is that it really enforces for me that you're invested in the success of my business and this podcast. And another impact is that it gives me and the team an opportunity to really move out beyond our comfort zones and look at different and new ways of updating or expanding our brand or our image.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  13:17  
Absolutely. And that was the, that was the initial thought behind it was okay, how can we implement something new that can be another, you know, marketing piece in your marketing toolkit for the brand. You as a brand.

Marsha Clark  13:32  
Yes. And so then step three is where I'm describing my very own feelings, and I'm speaking in terms of I because we choose how to feel. Remember that. Nobody makes us feel anyway, it's the I'm happy, I'm joyful. So, back to our example. I'm encouraged and feel genuinely supported by that initiative, Wendi, on your part. And I'm excited and inspired to learn about something new and ways in which we can possibly expand our brand.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  14:02  
Yep, that was the intent.

Marsha Clark  14:03  
Okay. So we're good on this so far. So step four is where I would ask you, the individual, to help me understand and then listen. And what this does is, you know, there's always two sides to every story, or there's your intentions and motivations may or may not be obvious or transparent to me. And so I'm going to likely learn new information here, because feedback, and even positive feedback, really is an opportunity to learn and then to build that trust that we've talked about that's so important by truly listening. And if this is, you know, improvement feedback, it's a critical step to make sure the other person feels seen and heard. So, in our case, Wendi, this is where I might ask, how do you see the Sonic Branding making a positive impact on my business or the podcast? Or if I didn't already know this information I would ask how you originally came up with the idea and what excites you about it.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  14:56  
Yeah, this is another one of those steps in your model that I really appreciate because it specifically directs the leader to pause and include the feedback recipient in the conversation plus it can open up for the discovery of new insights, as you said. And we can easily think we have all the relevant data on why someone did what they did, but not really have the whole picture. And this step helps create that opportunity for learning and possibly a shift in our own thinking.

Marsha Clark  15:31  
Yep, for me, it's the ultimate opening for that internal curiosity question of what else could be true? And you know I love that one so much.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  15:41  
Exactly. And we've been using a positive feedback example. And I hate to divert us away from that, especially since I'm personally enjoying it. But you know, for a moment, if this were an improvement feedback conversation, isn't this the step where you as the leader/coach would need to keep the recipient's comments focused on the situation and the behavior?

Marsha Clark  16:06  
Well, that's absolutely true. So, when you open up the conversation and you ask the recipient for information to help you understand what happened, or why it happened and especially in the case of a situation where something went awry, it's pretty natural, so be prepared for it, for the recipient to start offering excuses or blaming others for whatever it is that happened or fell short. And think back to last week's episode on obstacles. There are real, legitimate obstacles out there. So, if that's what happened, it's good to find that out right now. And that still doesn't absolve them from their responsibility. So, be careful not to let them you know, blame, criticize, the phrase 'throw someone else under the bus', right, because this isn't the place to discuss someone else's actions or behavior. Your conversation is about the individual sitting across from you and their specific behaviors.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  17:07  
Yeah, I've seen that happen when the feedback conversation, you know, quickly becomes about other people, what they did, didn't do, etc.

Marsha Clark  17:16  
So, you've got to stay focused and keep the recipient focused. And that really brings us then to step five. And I think I just want to say a lot of feedback models stop at three. You did this, here's the impact, I'm frustrated, do better next time, you know, it's kind of that kind of thing. But this is where we get to hear the other person's side. And then step number five, to me, five, six, and seven are the extra added that makes this model particularly helpful, is you are going to state or restate what your expectations of them are going forward, from this moment forward. So, you know, with our example, this was pretty easy, Wendi. You know, my expectation of the partnership that you and I are committed to in enjoy is that you're going to continue to introduce innovative ideas, you're going to stretch my thinking and my team's thinking to always be looking for ways to stay relevant and fresh from a technology and content perspective.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  18:15  
Absolutely. I mean, that's why I'm here.

Marsha Clark  18:18  
And I love you for that. So, here's another example where if I haven't developed, shared and aligned those expectations with whoever is on the receiving end, now is the time. And if you've communicated these expectations to them previously, you're going to either reinstate or reinforce your expectations, and even remind them perhaps about it. And if there's a new or different expectation, share that expectation and get alignment around it as well.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  18:50  
Right. And I can imagine, though, that it would be much easier to reinforce a previously communicated expectation rather than to introduce a new one here.

Marsha Clark  19:01  
Yeah, the answer to that is mostly yes and it always comes back to trust. If you've established a strong relationship of trust, I could pretty easily be honest, transparent and say, you know, I didn't realize this was as important to me before, me the giver of the feedback. But now that this situation has occurred, I can see that I want this behavior to either continue, to stop, again, depending on the situation.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  19:29  
Exactly. I mean, this is a reminder of how critical trust is to the process.

Marsha Clark  19:34  
Yet, again. And if we go back to our example, I don't know that we've had an explicit conversation about an expectation of you taking initiative and bringing these innovative ideas to the table. But this would be a perfect time for me to recognize and verbalize that in this feedback conversation.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  19:50  
Yeah. So, smiling.

Marsha Clark  19:52  
So, once I've done that, we're going to move to step six, which is ensuring that the feedback recipient understands and agrees to whatever my expectation is. And this is what I refer to as the 'look me in the eye and give me your word' moment because it's serious, right? This isn't, I wouldn't be taking the time to give you feedback if it wasn't important. And so in this case of positive feedback you're basically asking someone to continue with the behavior or maybe you even asked for more of it in the future. So, I might say something like Wendi, are you willing to continue to look for those innovative ideas to improve the podcast and my business overall and are you willing to bring those ideas to me?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  20:35  
Of course, and I have to say that I'm having a moment here right now, you know, just getting the thanks and the recognition that yes, I'm just as invested in the success and the quality of this podcast and the delivery as you are. So.

Marsha Clark  20:54  
Well, and again, I'm going to take our listeners back to the trust model, ensuring mutually serving intention, one of the trust of character behaviors. So, there we are. So, that's the power of this seven step feedback framework. It can create genuine, meaningful connections between people. And even when the feedback is for improvement, it has the potential to help deepen what's an important relationship if it's a leader and team member. And that's one reason I like to emphasize the seriousness of this conversation. You know, at this step, you want sincere agreements when I'm asking you, you know, do you understand what I'm asking and do you agree to meet this expectation going forward. And accountability is a key ingredient to that and remembering that there is no accountability without consequences. And so, these aren't hollow words. You have to be clear about what accountability and consequences you're thinking about. And again, these can be for both positive and improvement scenarios.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  22:01  
Yeah, I'm realizing how important it would be to enter into this feedback conversation prepared. You want to do your homework so that you can share expectations and consequences. And maybe that's one reason why feedback is often just so impotent, if you will. I mean, there's nothing backing it up. It's the equivalent of a finger wag or a high five, but no real power behind it.

Marsha Clark  22:28  
I think that's a great point, Wendi. And I want our listeners to have powerful and meaningful feedback conversations that, that generate or reinforce change, to improve or continue or advance, you know, performance, and build trust and relationships. And, and it's the reason I love all seven steps in this model. And I want to say one other thing. Write it down, write down what points you want to make so that you, and I've even said to people, especially when I first started using this model many years ago, I've made some notes here. I may be referring to my notes because I want to make sure I share all of the pertinent information with you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  23:11  
Great segue into the seventh step, which is determine whether the other person needs anything from you to ensure their success in meeting your expectation.

Marsha Clark  23:22  
That's right. So, if the feedback recipient is perhaps a more senior or experienced person, you'll probably adjust how involved you're going to be going forward and yet, you still want to offer them support so, especially if the feedback was for improvement, and they may be needing guidance or interference on obstacles or whatever they need from you to achieve whatever the expected result is that you've given to them. Now, if it's a more junior, or less experienced person, you may need to provide more oversight, or it might require you to do a bit more reviewing and checking, right, checks and balance, check and review. In the end, achieving the expected result is still their responsibility. So, there's this fine balance there. Be mindful that you don't end up offering so much support that you're basically doing their job. And in the case of our example, this would be where I would ask you to let me know what I can do to support you in terms of continuing to look for innovative ideas. And there you are, we have all seven steps.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  24:25  
Excellent. That was awesome. And not just because I got some happy feeling from the whole thing, but it was fun to work through this model using a positive example. And you know, that's a great juxtaposition to what we did last week and since we used the constructive example then. So, thank you for sharing this second version with us all.

Marsha Clark  24:45  
Absolutely. And I do think it's important to reinforce the value of providing feedback when someone has done something really well. And because when that person receives your positive feedback, guess what, they're more likely to do that again in the future. Here's the leadership principle for our listeners to hear. Rewarded (and in this case, positive feedback is the reward) rewarded performance is repeated.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  25:10  
You know, reinforcing positive behaviors and celebrating the successes of our team is just one of those things that I think we can always push ourselves to do more of.

Marsha Clark  25:21  
I agree with that, Wendi. You know, as leaders, we're just so busy, we're focused on getting everything done, you know, marking things off or to do lists. And we often forget to recognize and celebrate accomplishments. And so I just say, stop, take a breath, recognize, celebrate, reengage. I mean, it doesn't have to take an enormous amount of time. And yet it is so important. So make the practice of giving positive feedback and celebrating successes a commitment, and you know, to develop that habit and build it into your daily to do list. And, you know, if you don't already have a daily to do list, start one and make sure this is on it.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  26:01  
I love it. I love it. I needed this nudge because I absolutely forget to do this proactively when something positive happens. I'm pretty much good about acknowledging it, but I really tend along the lines of okay, yeah, of course that was supposed to happen and just keep going. And I haven't made it a habit to or an intention to look for something to celebrate.

Marsha Clark  26:28  
Again, welcome to the world. So it is a great habit to build. And I want to offer to our listeners, too, that my dear friend and colleague Dottie Gandy developed a really powerful process for doing that. And she wrote a book about it. And this was, she wrote this before I ever met her some 20 plus years ago, and it's called "30 Days to a Happy Employee". So, I love the title of that. And the subtitle is "How a Simple Program of Acknowledgment Can Build Trust and Loyalty at Work". And her book is still available for purchase online, and I would highly recommend our listeners to check it out.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  27:10  
Well, I'm intrigued, and I love the subtitle "Building Trust and Loyalty at Work". So, what's the premise of the program she developed?

Marsha Clark  27:18  
So, the simple description is once a day, for 30 days, share with someone whose relationship is important to you, each day a different quality or trait in them that you admire, that you appreciate or you value about them.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  27:36  
So a different person every day?

Marsha Clark  27:38  
No, same person. I've got to tell you, Wendi, 30 days in a row something that I admire, value in you that can be a quality, a trait, an action or behavior or whatever. And she created an entire process around that with a few key guidelines that would basically take up an entire broadcast to cover so maybe we can do one next year just on her work. But I will say that it's not as easy as it sounds, because after about two weeks, people discover that they run out of the obvious qualities, or traits, what Dottie referred to as the Boy Scout of qualities, like I appreciate how prepared you always are, I admire how can you encourage others. So, what happens when you run out before those 30 days? Well, she offers some important guidelines. And you know, probably the most impactful one is that you need to start paying closer attention, right, to that person's behavior, getting beyond the surface level interactions. And really notice how they work. How do they relate to other people individually? It's a beautiful way to truly see what makes a person unique and special.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  28:50  
You know I just wrote this down in my calendar to add as a to do thing, and I'm going to start with my spouse. No, I'm gonna start there and see how that goes and then expand that to other people. Like, you know, you could do that professionally, obviously, as well and I know that's what we're talking about. And now I definitely want to read Dottie's book.

Marsha Clark  29:11  
Well, can I also just tell you that she came up with this because her daughter was working for her and her first subject was her daughter. How do you give your daughter feedback who's working with you? And so, you say I'm going to try it with my husband. Certainly it applies in work. It applies to both.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  29:26  
Yeah, exactly. Well, that's a nice add, Marsha, and thank you for pulling Dottie's work again into the conversation. I can't wait to check out this book while I'm waiting for your new one to come out.

Marsha Clark  29:38  
Well, as anyone who knows me, Dottie has been a dear friend, colleague and an inspiration for many years and I think this is a good place to recognize her work and her spirit on this topic of feedback and celebrations.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  29:51  
Well, speaking of your new book, "Expanding Your Power", you offer some guidelines of your own when it comes to recognition and celebrations and there are things that I hadn't really thought of before. So, share, please share, your tips with leaders that you that you have around this topic.

Marsha Clark  30:08  
So, here's some tips that I've collected over, you know, the decades, if you will, from my own leadership experience, and then working with other leaders that had many levels around the world. And so the first one is, make the recognition appropriate to the level of performance or achievements. Big results warrant big celebrations. So, if a person went above and beyond to solve a customer's problem, you may want to publicly recognize that person in some way. And you know, and that reinforces to everyone the importance of serving the customers well. In addition, you highlight this person, what they did, in their performance review, and you take it into consideration at raise and bonus time. So, that's my first tip. My second tip is don't overlook the small, consistent reliable contributions and contributors. So, those are I call them are workhorses, right? Their steadiness and consistency often enable other bigger things to happen. So, maybe you have someone on your team who shows up every day, almost always hits deadlines with quality results. This is a person in my mind, you just don't have to worry about him. You know and as a result of that we can overlook these team members. And I suggest that you periodically give yourself a prompt or a cue once a month, who are my consistent, you know, performers, and how can I recognize them. And maybe it's a handwritten thank you note or even an email that you can copy the boss on to let them know what a good, reliable employee this is. And then my third tip is inspired by the Gallup research. And this shows that recognition has a very short shelf life, you know, and what that means is it doesn't take long after you've recognized a team member, that they're already thinking, what's next? And it goes back to this feels so good I want more of it. That's really, you know, the underlying feeling around that. Ooh more. Ooh more.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  32:14  
Right, exactly. But yet having that very short shelf life, that's a little disheartening for a leader.

Marsha Clark  32:20  
Yeah, well, and you've just said what many a leader has said. And they also, not only is it disheartening, but they can get to the, they can identify that person is needy, right, or lacking confidence or needing affirmation. And again, when we as women are either seeking feedback or, you know, trying to showcase our contributions and get nothing in return, that can equally be disheartening. So, the leaders are like, I don't want to create that needy or entitled person or team. So, they often forego all the recognition or any celebration. And, you know, I often say in my programs, this is the "I told you that I loved you when I married you. If anything changes, I'll let you know." And so it's like no news is good news. So, I offer that there are rarely situations where recognition or celebration is overdone. And your judgment has to be developed and honed on how to balance the appropriate recognition and celebration in the contrast of too little or too much.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  33:27  
Yep. That makes sense. And I know you're right. I mean, I'd rather err on the side of too much recognition and affirmation than not enough. You know, plus that internal question of what's next might just be the motivational driver the team member needs to take their performance to the next level. So, assuming the recognition is tied to positive results and isn't just a participation trophy, you know, then I can see how it's driving performance and not creating complacency or entitlement.

Marsha Clark  34:00  
Yeah, I will tell you in all my years, as a leader, I can't recall a time when team members were just, you know, sitting around waiting to be handed out recognition, you know, based on some arbitrary timeline. Well, it's been seven days. I need another, you know, kind of thing. They worked hard. They truly deserved every celebratory moment we shared. And I go back to that leadership principle of 'Run the company so the best people love it.' was my mantra, and I followed it, and which is also why I think the people who worked with me were some of the highest performers in the organization and they produced incredible results.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  34:35  
Yeah, I can totally see that. Just talking to people who have worked with you over the years I know that your approach to recognition and acknowledgement is part of what helped to create and cement those high performing teams. So, what other tips from your own leadership experience can you share with our listeners that you think helped you celebrate your team members?

Marsha Clark  34:58  
Yes, in my early leadership experience and I've been at this, you know, I've been working for 52 years. I've been a leader in various roles for the majority of that. And what I did, I simply used index cards as my reference tool for knowing my people. You know, I noted the spouses name, the children's names, what they did on the weekends, you know, hobbies, outside interests. It could be a casual conversation on a Monday that when I said, 'What did you do this weekend?" and they could say, I went camping or whatever. And I would pick up on these things in these casual conversations, and I'd go to my office, and I'd capture them on my index card. And you know, today there's lots of automated tools for capturing that kind of information. So, you can use what's comfortable and convenient and available to you. But the bottom line, here's again, leadership principle, KYP. Know Your People.

Exactly. And so how does this intel, so to speak, help with the recognition or celebrating successes?

Yeah, probably the biggest way is to ensure that whatever I might be using as recognition, whatever I choose to provide, I want it to be meaningful and relevant to the individual. It's not about me feeling good about the gift, it's them feeling good about whatever this recognition might be. And, you know, I think this is one thing that the EDS leaders in my work experience were exceptional at doing this, and I'm gonna say, not 100%, but the leaders I worked with and admired and they were very creative in how they recognized people's performance. And we didn't just throw money in terms of, you know, cash bonuses at people. We did that, too, but it wasn't the only thing. And remember that the data says that that kind of recognition has a very short shelf life. So, you know, we would pay attention to who our people were, and what mattered to them. So, if someone say was an amateur artist in their spare time, instead of cash, I might give them a gift card to the local art supply store, or, you know, for some custom framing. And, you know, we had leaders who sent people and their families on ski vacations. And, you know, because they knew that the family love to ski, maybe hadn't been in a few years due to expense, or quite honestly, work schedules. And, you know, another example was a leader paid for a team member's baby crib for her first child. And, you know, some 30 years later, that crib is still in the family. And think about it, if she had received $1,000 bonus, it would have been spent and forgotten long, long ago. So, whatever you do for recognition, make it meaningful and relevant when you can.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  37:39  
Well, stories like that help me understand why and how there was such a deep loyalty to the company from the people who work there years ago.

Marsha Clark  37:48  
Yeah, it's still loyal. It's that and it's reflective of a culture that knows how to and when to celebrate success. So, from a performance management perspective, and I want to remind our listeners, this whole series is about building and leading high performance teams. So, it's really all about performance. Being generous with recognition doesn't mean you're handing it out like candy, because that really dilutes the power behind the recognition. If all of us get it, why extend that extra, you know, above and beyond?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  38:22  
So, how can a leader be sure that they're not diluting that power of recognition?

Marsha Clark  38:28  
You know, it's pretty straightforward. Tie it to results. There has to be something earned to receive it. So, recognize and celebrate when a team member or a team exceeds expectations on a project, when they perhaps hit a significant milestone. Remember, we talked about a moment ago, recognizing consistent performance, celebrate the consistent base hit runner, not the home run hitter, but the base hit runner, as much as you celebrate that occasional home run. It's the consistency that you are reinforcing there. And then celebrate and recognize when when you have a team member who's genuinely responding to feedback and coaching. So, when you see them making progress towards achieving higher performance standards or meeting your expectations, and those can be things like demonstrating resilience, tenacity, learning from mistakes, being open to feedback, all of those types of behaviors. I consider those results just as much as the quantitative metrics and, you know, movement in the right direction needs reinforcement just as much as achieving the end goal.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  39:36  
Yeah, that's really helpful, Marsha. I mean, you offer so many helpful tips and pointers in "Expanding Your Power" for recognition and celebrations. But I want to call out one of my personal favorite sections you included and it's the work by Gary Chapman around the five love languages. So will you share that information with our listeners and why you wanted to include it.

Marsha Clark  40:00  
I'd be happy to do. So one, I love frameworks. I mean, you know, I grew up in a company where everything was a model, a blueprint, a roadmap or a framework, or checklist. So, because I really believe they help us retain, so I can remember things better. And I can access the principles of the framework, right, whatever it might represent. So, when I think about I've gotta get feedback, I immediately go to seven step feedback, right. And if I want to get recognition, I immediately go to the five languages of appreciation. So, but to step back a moment, I was introduced to a book called "The Five Love Languages", as you said, by Gary Chapman, and I want to say this. This book was originally intended for couples in couples counseling as a way of expressing heartfelt commitment to your mate. So, again, personal application, professional application. And this book became so popular that it led Gary Chapman along with Paul White to write a second book that was more professionally oriented, called "The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace". So, in "Expanding Your Power", our upcoming book, I provided a side by side summary of what these two books offer in the way of these five languages. Again, one for our personal lives, love languages, and one for our professional lives, languages of appreciation.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  41:28  
So, the five languages are the same, but applied differently between our personal and professional lives. In fact, I think Chapman and White described their book as The Five Love Languages Go to Work. That's kind of the implied subtitle. So, for anyone unfamiliar with the five love languages, Marsha, let's share those first and then show how they were adapted to the languages of appreciation.

Marsha Clark  41:57  
That makes sense. So, there's no by the way, there's no particular order other than how Chapman originally presented them in the first book and how they're generally offered up in subsequent articles, and so on. So, the first love language or language of appreciation is words of affirmation. And this language uses words to affirm other people, just like the title says. So, for those who prefer the words of affirmation language, they want to hear how much you care about them. They want to receive genuine compliments sincere compliments. Words hold real value if this is one of your primary love languages. And on the flip side of that, negative or insulting comments cut deep and won't be easily forgiven.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  42:48  
So then, how does this shift from personal to professional and the language of appreciation at work?

Marsha Clark  42:56  
So, in terms of our professional lives, for our team members and colleagues who prefer words of affirmation, we can provide verbal acknowledgment that their work is appreciated, saying "Good Job" to the employee, or publicly recognizing them, perhaps during a meeting. It can be a job well done. And again, it's going to be received best by those team members who value and appreciate these words of affirmation. And, you know, you can also write handwritten notes, or emails copying your boss or other stakeholders. So, these words can be verbal or written, and they can come in many forms.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  43:36  
Okay, so this is a perfect opportunity to bring the seven step feedback model back into the conversation because those words of affirmation can be really specific and meaningful using that framework.

Marsha Clark  43:48  
That's right, you get the specific behavior and the impact so it's another opportunity to go a little deeper beyond the simple acknowledgement. So, as the leader know that you have an entire spectrum of responses that you can use that can be appropriate for the circumstances. You're probably not going to walk through the entire seven step framework standing in front of a town hall and recognize someone, but you would say more than just a few Yay You. And you do, again, want to identify specific behaviors and the impact of those behaviors. And this goes everything from your the customer was delighted, or you saved us a week's worth of work, or you improved productivity tremendously by bringing us this technology or whatever.  So, and you have to know your people to know their love language.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  44:38  
Yeah, exactly. You know, if someone really important to me stood up in front of a town hall and said yay, Wendi, I might be pretty pumped about that, but I would want to know why. I mean, like, you know, so anyway.

Marsha Clark  44:51  
I've said this to many a class and many a client. I've had people say they got sizable bonuses and had no, no earthly clue why they got them. There's a check on my desk and I'm thinking what a missed opportunity. That's an incredibly missed opportunity. Okay, so let's acknowledge context is everything. So, then the second love language is quality time. So, words of affirmation now quality time, and this is all about giving the other person really your undivided attention. That's the quality aspect of it. And unlike the words of affirmation language where the talk is cheap, right, and being someone's main focus leaves quality timers feeling much more satisfied and comforted. So, the thing to watch out for here is if you have distractions, postpone dates, or even the failure to listen, because that takes away from the quality of the timer. And, and it can be especially hurtful to these individuals. And being there for them is crucial. And I want to give a personal example here. I had a woman who wanted to talk to me about her career, and she was two or three levels down in in my organization. So, she wasn't a direct report. And the way it worked out, it was a crazy time, as many of my times at EDS were, but she, I would have to have my assistant call and reschedule her. And on the third reschedule, which I didn't even realize it had been done three times, she said to my assistant  who shared it with me and then of course, I shifted my gears accordingly. She said, "Clearly this is not important to Marsha because she's prioritizing everything above this. Nevermind." I mean, I felt like you had just put a dagger through the heart. And I went, 'Oh, my gosh'. This is the difference between intention and impact. My intentions were not to communicate a message that I didn't appreciate her and want to give her quality time. And yet my actions spoke another message. So, I just caution you that part. So, you know, it's when you think about quality time in a professional setting, there are companies whose culture are centered around teamwork and being visible to one another. And that can certainly relate to some welcomed face time as a symbol of appreciation and belongingness in the workplace. We're all one big happy family here at work, right? Aside from offering company outings like picnics, or volunteer opportunities, some employees really long for those face-to face-meetings, those check ins, if you will. And if supervisors simply send email stating recognition, as in words of affirmation, this isn't going to resonate as well with an employee whose primary language of appreciation is quality time.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  47:46  
Yeah, I just had that "wah wah" sound in my head when you said that because with people who value words of affirmation, they would still love an email filled with glowing words. But for someone who values quality time that email feels like a consolation prize.

Marsha Clark  48:03  
That is such a great analogy. I think it's absolutely right. And, you know, I will just also say, we have less time than anything, but it's about being present in those moments, whether it's with playing with our children on the floor when we get home at night, or whether it is giving that employee an opportunity to talk with me about their career. So, reinforcement, and it is anything short is a consolation prize. So, the third language is acts of service. And hear again, actions speak louder than words. So, people who speak the language of service want the important people in their circles, teams, to recognize that their life is rough. And they want to help them come, you know, support them in any way. You know, lending a helping hand shows that you care for people who this is their language. And the people who thrive on this or it is primary for them, they don't do well with broken promises, you know, or in some cases, just perceived laziness. And they have very little tolerance for people who make more work for them where they're having to follow up, follow up, follow up. So, basically, if you're not willing to show your appreciation by doing them a favor, you're again, basically saying you don't value them. That's just my example of I didn't get quality time, so I don't value you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  49:26  
Yeah, this one feels like a bigger stretch to go from home to a work language.

Marsha Clark  49:31  
Well, it's not as much of a stretch as you'd think. So, it can be demonstrated, my acts of service can be small gestures that show other team members and colleagues that they're valued. So, that could consist of helping with a particular project, anything I can do for you, any research I can do, introducing someone to another important person or you know, a resource that can help them, assisting with technology problems (Thank you, Brent and Misty and Natalie), helping something as simple as carrying office supplies or delivering lunch or coffee or bringing a cup of coffee because it's your favorite one from wherever. And you'd be surprised how these small acts can send a strong message of support appreciation. That's a part of when I went back, I'm going to go back a couple of episodes, the teams that were high performing teams, we did that for each other, we did all these things for each other. And, you know, I also want to say these are small things, but I will tell you, as a leader, back in my EDS days, I've been a babysitter. So, I relocated someone from another town, they hadn't set up their support system here. They'd been working, you know, a lot. And if they have children they can't, they can't have any time to just sit, have a nice dinner with their spouse or whatever. And I babysat so they could go do that. And that's an act of service in my mind. I might have sent over someone to do the lawn when they were in the hospital or you know, a clown when a child's come home from a hospital, because I've done all of those kinds of things. And those, so don't just think about just small gestures, or just big ones. There's everything in between there and think outside the box, if you will on that.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  51:13  
Exactly. And, you know, I'm thinking of a situation just the other day when a colleague offered to reach out and follow up with someone when I noticed an issue, and I didn't expect this person to take on the issue. But they offered because they had more history and a different relationship with the other person than I do. And I really appreciated that gesture at the time. And I'm now realizing that it was an act of service. You know, she didn't have to do that. She could have easily stayed out of it and offered words of encouragement to me while I tried to deal with it myself.

Marsha Clark  51:45  
That's a great example. I mean, I love that. And, you know, again, I go back to once we have this framework in the language, we can recognize things more clearly for what they are. And so then the fourth love language is receiving gifts. Pretty straightforward on that one. So, for some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a tangible gift. And it doesn't necessarily mean the that the person is materialistic or superficial. But more importantly, a meaningful or thoughtful present is what makes them feel appreciated. So, it goes back to know your people, that includes family, neighbors, school teachers, whatever.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  52:24  
Do you think that the flip side of this gift giving is also how you can recognize someone who this is an important love language, receiving gifts? Do you think that when they give, that's them trying to show others that that's important to me?

Marsha Clark  52:43  
I do. Yeah. Because we you know, if that's what I know is important to me, and I haven't taken time to really understand that there's more than one way and that mine is not everybody else's, then I'm blindly going to do that.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  52:59  
Yeah, you know, sometimes this really is the thought that counts. I mean, for example, knowing that someone thought of me while they were out traveling and brought back a cool momento or something they saw it a funky shop and made them think of me, so they got it for me and the I love that. And I love doing the same thing for other people. Although now as I say that, is that me imposing my love language on other people?

Marsha Clark  53:22  
It is. But you know, in the example you just provided you might hit on the words of affirmation, or even quality time languages when you share the gift with the person. So, you know, you can cover a couple of bases there. And in the case of receiving gifts as a professional demonstration of appreciation, some employees value material objects as signs of being rewarded for worthwhile performance and a reward platform. This is what I'm seeing in you know, more of the big, more mature organizations is that they have some sort of platform where employees can redeem points for their efforts for products or experiences that are designed to meet that employee's desires. And, you know, I want to add a note here to be aware that they're often tax implications of gifts over a certain dollar amount. So, work with your HR person or whatever, whoever is the right person on that policy. And I also want to tell my own personal story on this receiving gifts. When I first went to work for EDS, it was back in 1978, end of '78, so a long time ago. And yet this story is still so deep in me. I went to work for EDS in December and we moved into our first home. And my first seven weeks at EDS there was a big project and I worked every single day for those first seven weeks. And I didn't mind it. I loved every minute of it. It was new, was exciting, it was all those things. And then one day I came home to find a new washer and dryer in my new house. And I, my husband and I looked at each other, what is this all about? And it was EDS who knew their people, who knew me, who knew that I was giving my all as a new employee. So, seven weeks in, they bought me a new washer and dryer from my house. They had me forevermore. That's right.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  55:32  
I love it. I love it. So, you know, I would think it would be... it's not so much my jam as the more personalized gift, but I understand the gamification if you will, of recognition that some people really love, you know, getting points for hitting certain milestones and then redeeming them for merchandise. You know, that doesn't do much for me, but you know, that's me, which is why there are these love languages.

Marsha Clark  56:02  
Well, it is. I'm with you. I just think you're letting leaders off the hook. I don't have to know you. You get to go pick whatever you want. And some people love that. You know, I want what I want and and yet how many people have I heard say, well, there wasn't really anything I want. It's kind of like, you know, into one of these Dave and Busters Main Events, redeeming for cheap plastic stuff.  We don't need any of it, it'll be gone in a month. You know, all I can say but, the merch as... and always calls it, it can be really easy to overlook and that is a key language. And yet it is. So, we have to just accept that. So, be really mindful, again, that your own preferred languages aren't limiting how you recognize or affirm others.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  56:45  
Okay, so that brings us to the fifth love language, which is physical touch. This is about to get really interesting in the workplace.

Marsha Clark  56:53  
You know, I always smile and you know, nervous laughter comes when I'm talking about this. So, there is significant difference between how we can appropriately use physical touch, and it's all about the boundaries. And these are just as relevant in our personal lives as they are in our professional lives. So, for people who value physical touches a love language, you know, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch, appropriate emphasized. That doesn't mean you know, only in the bedroom. So, this is where we've got to be grownups about this. It's every day physical connections, it can be hand holding, a peck on the cheek, and really any reaffirming physical contact that is greatly appreciated for that person who physical touche is their love language. And, you know, it isn't what some would call over the top. Have you ever heard the phrase the acronym PDA, personal displays, public displays of affection? But it's, you know, getting a little touchy feely can make them feel safe and loved. So, this is where the caveat kicks in with a physical touch. And I want to be really, really clear on this. Any instance of physical abuse or unwanted physical expression is a total deal breaker. Respect other's boundaries.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  58:13  
Yes. This is a big deal in all circles of life, not just professionally.

Marsha Clark  58:19  
Anyone who follows me on LinkedIn or Facebook, I just posted an article about a little three year old girl.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  58:26  
That, I was almost crying in the airport. I was in the airport and I read that and I went, but Marsha, go ahead. Why don't you just really quickly recap that story.

Marsha Clark  58:37  
So, it's a three year old girl whose stepgrandfather, even though he had been her mother's stepfather for 30 years so it's not like just married and figuring him out. (And it's the mother telling the story.) It's the mother of the three year old telling the story. And her daughter is clearly, you know, pulling back and withdrawing from the ticklish playful touching of the grandfather. And the mother says, you can tell your grandfather, you know, to stop, and the little three year old doesn't know how to do that. Of course she doesn't. She's three, she's three. And yet mother sees this, and she's trying to help her daughter and so on. And finally the three year old says to her mother, Mommy, you tell him. So, the mother said back off. And of course the father says, I'm just playing. And she says it's playing to you. It's not playing to her. And she then went on to talk about stories about how her mother sat there quietly, how her mother had ignored or could not, did not know how to deal with other overstated physical touch in her own life, the grandmother of the three year old, or when the mother of the three year old tried to talk to her mother about her own scenarios. So, this absence of I'm just playing, we cannot just think about that in terms of ourselves, we have to think about, I don't care if it is a three year old, it's not right.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:00:12  
That's right. If the three year old is uncomfortable and squirming and trying to back away, I mean, hello, read your child's body language. Okay, so we're gonna get this back to the professional. You mentioned high fives and handshakes, but not hugs. What's the guidance there or, you know, is there any, because it's sensitive.

Marsha Clark  1:00:32  
It is. And, you know, look, in our professional lives, we can't be devoid of all physical contact. Let's just be real about that. But there's ways to demonstrate it. And it can be a high five, it can be a handshake, it can be a fist bump, it can be a literal pat on the back for a great job, you know. But again, personal boundaries, critical in protecting and keeping in mind the language of this. And so, some when it comes to hugs, that's the oh, that's the one. And I will tell you that the women in my classes will tell me every single time there are men who hug me where it's just a genuine, you know, connection. And there are others that give me creepy hugs. Right? The hands go in inappropriate places, just a little too tight. Yeah, my breasts are pushed up against their body, those kinds of things. So, if I know somebody's a hugger, I'm a hugger. I'm a self, you know, described hugger. But if I don't know ya I've learned to manage myself in that regard. If I do know you, and I know you're a hugger or you like hugs too, then you know, all in. But we've got to be smart about those things. And I teach women how to do side hugs, I will teach women how to extend their hand, the right hand, put their left hand on the forearm of the person coming at them firmly and say, 'Don't come one step closer' you know, kind of thing, because we've got to protect ourselves, because not everybody's going to be mindful of that. And the other thing I want to say is that we have to consider cultural norms, because there are certain cultures where it's a hug, it's a kiss on each cheek, that, you know, the question was, is it one cheek, two cheeks, three cheeks you know, all of that. So, I've got to be smart about that too, and, and honor the culture but not dishonor my own boundaries around that. And I will also tell you on this having worked with women around the world, in some cultures, primarily, I think of the Middle East, women cannot touch another man other than their husband. And so they can't even shake hands. So, one of the things that those women taught me, and that I now practice in certain ways, is to put their hand to their heart instead of extending their hand to shake. And so, those are the kinds of things where it can be physically touch me touching my heart, but in a way, it's me saying I'm giving my heart to you. So, it's the intent of physical touch without physical touch, if that makes any sense. So, we've got to pay attention.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:03:17  
Exactly. I mean, and Marsha, thank you for sharing all of these suggestions on how we can accommodate a variety of preferred languages within our teams, our colleagues, our clients, and of course, our loved ones. So, we're at the end of this episode and the series on building and leading high performance teams. And I feel like I want to go back and re-listen to all of them now that I have the full picture. But before we wrap up today, Marsha, I'd love for you to share your reflection questions on recognition with our listeners so that we can provide some nice closure on this topic.

Marsha Clark  1:03:51  
I think that's a great idea, Wendi. So, the first reflection question, and you'll find this in the book when you get your copy, hopefully, number one: "Who deserves recognition on your team, and for what reason?" So, again, making sure you're specific, and that they are clear about what they did to earn such recognition. That's at the individual level. Two is "What team accomplishments deserve celebration?" So, we all know that most work gets done as part of a team. So, if we all together contributed in a way, we all deserve recognition, and then "What kind of recognition or celebration is appropriate?" And you know, I'll give this example that I did many times. I've written letters of thank you, done public recognition to kind of hit on the written as well as the words of affirmation kind of thing when it's been a true and obvious team effort. And as with most, there are always individuals who go above and beyond. So, I give everybody consistent recognition on the team. And then I specify and do above and beyond recognition for above and beyond performance. So, then after those three questions, I do add a few final notes. One, there again, there may be tax implications, so you gotta do your homework. And then knowing that rewarded and recognized performance is motivation for people to continue or even do more as it relates to levels of performance. And then really make it an intention to find something to recognize or celebrate.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:05:29  
It's such good stuff, such good stuff in this episode. And as a quick reminder to our listeners, all of our podcasts are transcribed. And so, those transcripts are available on Marsha's website under the podcast section. So, while you're patiently waiting for her next book, "Expanding Your Power" to come out, you can always access the transcript if you prefer to have a digital version of our discussion and you know, may be able to go back and reflect on all of these questions, because there were a lot in this episode. So, Marsha, any final thoughts for our listeners as we close out this series on building and leading high performance teams?

Marsha Clark  1:06:07  
Well, I hope our listeners have found some new insights. I hope they feel that they've enriched their toolkits, and that's with frameworks we've offered, reflection questions and, you know, other kinds of tools. And I've, I just want our listeners to also hear I've heard many happy stories from the leaders who've followed this building high performance team framework and they've achieved really outstanding results.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:06:32  
Fantastic. Well, listeners, thank you for joining us today on this journey of authentic, powerful leadership. Please continue to download, subscribe and share this podcast from wherever you like to listen. Again, visit Marsha's website. You can see the transcript on all the resources we talked about today. Subscribe to Marsha's email list so you can stay up to date on when her second book is coming out. And yeah, so, Marsha?

Marsha Clark  1:06:58  
Well, again, thank you to our listeners. We hope you did find some insights and add to your toolkit today. And you know we're here for you. Let us hear from you. And as always, "Here's to women supporting women!"

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