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Podcast Transcript

Talk TO Me Not ABOUT Me

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:10  
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, I would have to say that this episode title, probably practical and helpful, but I can't help thinking about high school.

I know. I think it takes many of us back to that place. And so I want to welcome everyone to today's episode, "Talk TO Me, Not ABOUT Me".

Yes, yes. So when you say "Talk to me, not about me", that's not code. It's straightforward, right?

Marsha Clark  0:54  
Right. Yes it is. Absolutely. So it doesn't mean it's easy, and quite honestly, not even that common. And for our conversation today we're going to specifically explore our favorite feedback tool, and the value of providing high quality feedback. And that can be, you know, we often use the word "constructive" for the more developmental or negative kind of feedback, but it can be used constructive to me as both positive and negative. So you know, I think of it in that more inclusive term. And we're going to talk about the importance of being open and receptive to receiving feedback from others and how to solicit helpful feedback in a way that doesn't make you come across as needy or insecure or lacking confidence.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:43  
Ooh, good stuff today. Well, let's jump right in, because I know we have a lot to cover. All right. So last week's episode we talked about the ladder of inference in this infinite data pool. And we got up out of the pool, using various steps. This week's tool is also talked about in your book, "Embracing Your Power", and it's in the chapter on Building and Sustaining Trust. Why is that?

Marsha Clark  2:14  
Yeah, so the model that we use in the work that I do is from Dennis and Michelle Reina, Drs. Dennis and Michelle Reina. And to explore trust, betrayal, and healing, which is you know, the three steps of their model, introduce us to some different elements. And one of those is the trust of communication and it's a major component of that model. And it includes six different behaviors. You know, the book certainly contains information about each one of them, but let me tell you what the six are in the trust of communication. One is Share Information, Tell Your Truth, which is something we talked about last week, Admit Mistakes. And then number four is Give and Receive Constructive Feedback. So that's what we're going to focus on today. The other two, Maintain Confidentiality and Speak With Good Purpose.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:10  
Okay, so I can definitely see how today's episode is fitting in with the bigger picture of building trust.

Marsha Clark  3:16  
Yeah. And it goes both ways, right. So it's not just when we give feedback, it's also when we're open and receptive to the feedback from others because trust is built in that mutual way. The best trust is mutual trust.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:29  
Okay, so what's the first of the seven steps in your feedback model?

Marsha Clark  3:36  
Yeah. So I, you know, me, I have to give you a little bit of background or preamble if you will, the warning label before we start.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:45  
The warning label!

Marsha Clark  3:46  
Now context before content. So it's true for almost all the, you know, tools and models that we use. This one's really, I think, important for us to stop and get really clear about our intention, and the situation before you engage and offer your feedback. And, you know, the bottom line purpose of giving and receiving feedback is to help people learn, to grow and to perform better. I would think you would agree with that.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  4:21  
Exactly. Yes.

Marsha Clark  4:23  
All right. All right. So it's critical that you get really clear about your intention when you're giving it and are you giving it in a moment of frustration? Is it about venting your own anger about the situation? Is it because you believe your feedback can help the other person do better next time around?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  4:41  
Yeah, that's a really good point. I think, you know, sometimes I enshroud my venting or anger in the word "feedback" sometimes just to kind of make me feel better even though it really doesn't and I'm not fooling anybody and I know it. You know, getting clear on your true intentions helps you check your tone and your attitude as well as your timing, that could also have a major impact on how well or not well the other person receives that information.

Marsha Clark  5:17  
Right. It doesn't do any good if my feedback is gonna fall on those dead ears or resistant ears because I didn't consider how I was delivering it, or the context and spirit in which I'm delivering. And, and I'll tell you something, you know, timing is everything, right? So if you give it in that moment as a discharge of your anger or your disappointment, or your frustration, or whatever, that's too soon. But then if you don't give it until the annual performance review, that's too long. So you know, there's got to be timely feedback, where the person really remembers what the situation was, again, offered when cooler heads prevail, and when I get very clear about what kind of feedback I want to give you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  6:00  
Yes, that makes so much sense. And I guess that's even more important when the feedback would be considered constructive with that negative tone to it.

Marsha Clark  6:10  
That's right. The intention and the situation are most definitely amplified, you know, made larger, when the feedback could be regarded or received as "I'm not doing it right, or I did it wrong, or I'm not good enough, or I'm not..." whatever.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  6:29  
So I want to talk about positive feedback, too. But I think it would be helpful if we unpack the Seven Steps Feedback Model first, and then come back and talk about positive feedback.

Marsha Clark  6:42  
Yeah, I think that makes sense. Because whenever anybody says "Can I give you feedback' the first thing we think about is Uh Oh.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  6:48  
Yes, exactly. Do I need to sit down?

Marsha Clark  6:52  
Right, right. So do I need a box of Kleenex? Something I hear from women. So let's dive into the model and circle back. And so I want our listeners to know that I've been using this Seven Step Feedback Model for decades. And I'm not kidding. I developed it a bit from things that I read, and then, you know, really developing the subsequent steps based on anecdotal experience of what worked and what didn't work. So it's an adaptive model, if you will, in that regard. And I also want you to hear that, I've used it not only with my direct reports, but I've used it with peers, I've used it with bosses, I've used it with customers, I've used it with my husband, I've used it with my children. They may not have known that it was this quote unquote, "Seven Step Model". But it is one of the most popular tools that we offer to leaders because they find that there's lots of opportunity to use it, and that it does help get their thoughts clear and the delivery more effective so that the person hears what they are trying to say. Okay, so we're going to start with a scenario that really looks at, and I want to tell our listeners this is in the book. So if you're going to try and write all these things down, just go by the book, ha ha.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  8:17  
There you go. Alright.

Marsha Clark  8:19  
So Step One is "State the behavior as specifically as you can." And think almost like a court reporter or an expert witness, you know, just the facts. I just want details, I do need details, and using non-judgmental language. Instead of "You were late.", which is vague and accusatory, it's "So we've agreed that you're going to be here every day and logged in by 8:00 a.m. For the past four days, you haven't been logged in until 8:15, 8:40, 8:07 and 8:32." Right? So very specific, what you're supposed to, what we agreed to, and then what has been in reality happening. So, "State the behavior as specifically as you can." is step one. Step Two is "Describe the impact of such behavior." And this could be impact on the budget, you know, contract, a customer or potential customer, a relationship, or even your views on being able to trust that person and, you know, trusting them to do what they say they're going to do, which is I'll be there at eight o'clock. And so, you know, one important addition here is that, if I can I want to tie the impact back to something that has relevance for that individual. If you use the impact on the team, and that person really didn't care about the team, then the impact is going to fall flat and you lose some leverage with the feedback that you're providing.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  9:57  
Yeah, I just want to jump in for a second. So you've just said that if the person doesn't care about the team, then talking about their behavior negatively affecting the team really won't have the impact that you're looking for. But how can someone who works on a team not care about negatively impacting the team? I mean, isn't that a part of the job?

Marsha Clark  10:22  
Yeah. Isn't that a fascinating question? So that's a whole other podcast for a whole other book kind of, right? Here's the bottom line is that if your organization's, this is really key to look at, individual team and organization so think about that in collection, if your organization's metrics only measure individual contribution and that's what's up on the dashboard, or that's what shows up on performance reviews, you can say teamwork, and team results matter. But the reality is they don't, because we all know that which gets measured gets done. And so you can say one thing, but when reality tells me something different, I begin to doubt that what you're saying is really the real deal, if you will. Now, I don't want to get too sidetracked here, because we're going to go into this in detail in a later episode. But I also want to talk about expectations. I can speak about the impact on the team if I've clearly defined my expectations to you. And that one of my expectations is that you consider the impact on the team as you make choices and decisions about doing your work day in and day out. So I can measure your performance and I can put that on your performance review if it's an expectation that I've shared with you, that we've agreed to, and that you've not met. And so very little work in today's world is a pure solo act, and therefore impacted team is a valid impact that almost always is at play. And the key is communicating that expectation long, long, long before it's time to provide that feedback.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  12:11  
Yeah. And didn't we just have that quote last week along the lines of "Tell me what you pay attention to and I'll tell you who you are"?

Marsha Clark  12:20  
Yes, that's exactly right. And that's another great example. So your question is spot on and it's relevant here on this step, because your impact needs to connect to something that matters to the person. So choose that impact well.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  13:34  
Okay, how about step three.

Marsha Clark  12:37  
Alright. Step Three, "Describe your feelings, and own them." So here's the languaging difference in that. For example, if I'm owning my feelings and you've fallen short of my expectations or your performance has fallen short, I would say "I'm disappointed" versus, or rather than saying, "You disappointed me" because however you chose to act, I chose to be disappointed, right, for whatever reason. And I know this may seem a bit like semantics, and yet it's really important on how the other person hears what you're saying. So we choose how to feel and to respond no matter what the circumstances. So that's a part of step three, which is own your feelings. I'm frustrated, I'm confused, I'm disappointed. I'm angry. But I'm owning my feelings with that. And then Step Four, again we mentioned this last week on last week's podcast, which is the phrase "Help me understand." So this is where I get to hear their side of the story. And then I need to listen. You know, I'm not again using it as a trap to catch you, it's that I really want to hear your side of the story. There's always two sides to every story, and you'll likely learn some new information. And this is also a place where the person can begin to throw blame on someone else. And you know, well I would have been here on time, except my carpool driver was late to my house, you know, or I missed a deadline because so and so didn't give me information, you know, that kind of thing. And here's what I will tell you is you do not discuss the actions or behaviors of anyone else when you are giving feedback to a specific individual. And you say that this isn't about your carpool driver. It isn't about the person who didn't give you the information. We're talking about you and and your conversation is about their specific behaviors.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  14:43  
Yeah, I think that's a really good point because people can get sidetracked often to their own, well, what about... fill in the blank. You know, what about Samantha or Susan or whatever, they're always late too. What are you doing about them? And it's not relevant.

That's when we need to refocus it back to that person and their situation and their behavior. So don't fall into that trap, don't get sucked into that trap, it's the real deal here. And it's easy but if you're going through a script like this, that's not a part of the script and you have a little note, you know, this is about whoever's on the other side.

So next is Step Five.

Marsha Clark  15:25  
So this is if you have not already stated your expectations. So going back to what I said about I expect you to take into account the impact on your team members when you take action. And so this is where I am going to perhaps restate my expectations going forward, because we can't undo what's happened. So we kind of at Step Five is when we start moving to the looking forward stage. And I'll tell you, this is back in the tell me your side of the story is often where feedback ends, we don't get clear about what we want going forward. So everything starts with clear expectations. And if you haven't developed those previously, now's the time. And if you have communicated them previously, restate or reinforce them here and and talk about them as, remember when we had that conversation about expectations. And if there's a new or different, you know, distinction or nuance or something, share that expectation and get alignment around it.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  16:30  
Okay, another question here, then. Is it fair to hold someone accountable for their behavior if they weren't clear on the expectations, or you hadn't or missed out on the opportunity or it just like slipped up. They weren't told before.

Marsha Clark  16:50  
Right, right. So that's a really fair question. And as their leader or their coach or whatever, I absolutely am responsible for making sure that the expectations have been clearly communicated. And it could be a misunderstanding, or maybe the person thought they just needed to be in the office by eight and didn't realize they were supposed to be, you know, online, or logged in or whatever. So it's possible that they knew the expectation, but they interpreted it as a guideline, and not a hard and fast rule or something. And they noticed that other people not logged in right at eight o'clock. So they thought it wasn't really a rule, even though they have no idea why the others might be coming in or logging in later. And this is why the last step about asking the other person to help you understand is so important. And you know, that may be where you discover expectations weren't clear or were inconsistent. So how you explore step five to be more about creating that clarity and gaining that alignment. And you know, the other thing I will tell you, the best way to know you have alignment is to walk through an example. You can give them one and then you want them to give you one. And as they walk through each step of that, that is one of the best ways I've learned to make sure that you're on the same page as to what your expectation looks like in fulfilling your day to day responsibilities.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  18:19  
That totally makes sense.

Marsha Clark  18:21  
Alright, so now we're going to go to Step Six and this is the "Look me in the eye moment" is what I call it, and it's ensuring that they understand and agree to meet that expectation. So it's serious, right? I mean, I'm not just blowing smoke or, you know, talking just to hear myself talk. I don't want a flippant, insincere, or begrudging agreement, right, so it's like, okay, you know, kind of thing. It's let them know that you're going to hold them accountable for meeting your expectation, and you talk to them about, you know, even as I assess your performance through the throughout the year, meeting my expectations is a part of the information I bring to that assessment or that evaluation. And, you know, accountability is the key ingredient. And my students in coaching class have heard me say this 100 times, there is no accountability without consequences, right? We've talked about it on previous podcasts, and here it is again. These are not hollow words from you as the person providing the feedback and you have to be really clear about what accountability and consequences you're thinking about. Now, you know, everybody, accountability and consequences is kind of like feedback. We assume the negative, we assume the worst consequence. If you don't do this, I'm gonna fire you. If you don't do this, I'm gonna put you on a performance improvement plan. But consequences can be positive too you know. If you're able to get back on track with this, you're rebuilding your trust with me, or I can count on you to hit your deadlines, or whatever it might be. And you know, so walking through those examples ensuring you have alignment and recognizing the role that accountability and consequence play is an important piece.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  20:10  
Yep. So this is the part of the reason, or this is a part of the reason why consequences without any metrics or measurements can fall so short. I mean, they're really just empty threats.

Marsha Clark  20:23  
Well, that's right. And at that point, you're not only not improving performance, right, which is the whole intention behind this, you're undermining your own credibility and trust and possibly with the whole team if you're doing this with everyone. And yeah, you know, it's kind of like if you don't eat your vegetables I'm going to send you to your room. And you say that seven times and they never eat their vegetables and they never go to their room. So what are they learning? I don't really have to eat my vegetables. Right? Because there's no consequence to it. Mommy's just going to say this over and over again.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  20:54  
And the definition of insanity is...

Marsha Clark  20:57  
That's exactly right. So, which is why it's important to have clear, meaningful consequences to reinforce that accountability. And so that's Step Six. So now we're getting to Step Seven, the final step. So determine, and this is an optional statement, "Determine whether the other person needs anything from you to ensure their success in meeting your expectations". And so this is the "Be careful not to take too much", right, inevitably kind of letting them off the hook for achieving the desired result. And if it's a more junior, or less experienced person, you may want more oversight. You'll offer it up because you know they're still in a learning phase or a learning curve if you will, and therefore it may require you to do more reviewing and checking. But if it's a more senior or experienced person, you want to give them autonomy because they probably have a track record of doing it before and it's an aberrant behavior coming and falling short at this point. But they know how to do it, and you know they know how to do it.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  22:05  
Yeah, I think Step Seven can potentially be a pitfall for women because that asking of whether the other person needs any help is like that caretaking thing that comes out of all of us. So I really want to reiterate and double underline your point, when you said be careful not to take on too much and letting them off the hook. Because while I love this, and it's a great way to wrap up the feedback in a positive manner and show support for them, I just want to put a little fine point on that caution of not taking that to the extreme.

Marsha Clark  22:50  
Well, I couldn't agree with you more. And the example that I hear most often with that is one of my employees brings me a product that's only 70% complete, you know. It's going to need 30% more work to get it to the place where we're going to pass it on whoever is the recipient of it. And instead of sending them back and coaching them around what they need to do to get it to at least 95, right, you may be that final 5%. But I just take it on because "Oh, you brought it to me at the last minute, and it's due in the morning. And so I'm going to, you're going to get to go home, but I'm gonna stay here and work on this." You know, so it's that I get caught up in and we're so used to filling in the blanks, and you know, just getting it done because it's easier to do it myself than it is to coach someone else. There's all kinds of reasons around that. But it really is important for us to coach that person because as a leader, it is our job to help develop and create that capacity in another. So you may think it's faster to do it yourself this time. But how many products is that person going to bring you in this year that you know if it's at 70%, and you can finish all of them? That's not leadership.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  24:05  
Yeah, I just wanted to, you know, stress the two sides of this coin that this whole seven step process isn't about criticizing or beating somebody up for past performance or venting your anger, that the intention is to enhance performance, enhance their performance, not only by moving that person forward, but making sure that they're learning but also taking responsibility.

Marsha Clark  24:32  
No, that's absolutely right, Wendi, and that as I say, the seventh step is optional. Use it, but don't let them put it back on you. That's the bottom line.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  24:42  
Yeah. So I know in the book you offer a complete example of a constructive feedback conversation. And I found this so helpful to pull the whole model together. So do you mind walking us through it here so to help our listeners kind of get the big picture of everything?

Marsha Clark  25:01  
I'll be happy to do that. Sure. So Step One. So this is going to be about missed deadlines, something that all of us have done at various points in our career. So I would say to you, Wendi, you've missed your last three project deliverable deadlines. On Project A it was due on October 1st and you delivered it on October 5th with no communication to me that it was going to be late. Project B was due November 3rd and I had to ask you about it on November 4th. Project C was due on December 8th and I still don't know when it will be completed. So I've given you when it was due and I've given you what actually happened. That's the specific behavior. Step Two. Wendi, the impact of these missed deadlines is really significant. The customer's unhappy with us and it's about to trigger the penalty clause in our contract because we've missed deadlines. And these financial penalties are serious and they're going to be reviewed by our senior leaders. And we've had to work some of the members on your team over time in order to keep the subsequent deadlines from also being missed. And I want you to know that my trust as well as the trust of your peers has been negatively impacted, given the track record of these missed deadlines, three in a row.  Step Three. And I'm frustrated and disappointed in this pattern of you missing these deadlines. And each time you and I've discussed this you've told me it won't happen again, and then it does. Step Four. Help me understand what's going on with all these missed deadlines. And, I'd love to hear your side of the story. So that would then happen, you would give me

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  26:55  
...grabbing the Kleenex. I'm trying to hide under the desk.

Marsha Clark  27:01  
Right, right. So you know, and you might have good reasons why. When I've used this in missed deadlines, it's been, you know, my partner's in chemo and I wanted to be there with him at the hospital this morning. And I didn't know that it would require so much time and I thought I could work while I was there. And I mean all kinds of things. So yeah, you've gotta be ready to take it in, right? And regardless of what's said, and again, I want to get really clear on here on Step No. Five, you have to ask the person when you say here are my expectations going forward, it has to be something that is within the control of that person. Right? So in this case, Wendi, what I need from you going forward is to let me know the minute that you think you might miss a deadline because knowing ahead of time gives me a lot more desirable and effective options. I can reallocate resources to help get you back on track, I can remove any potential or real obstacles that you might be facing. And I can also let the customer know what's going on so that we can work things through ahead of time, not after the fact. So that was five. So Step Six. Do you agree, Wendi, to let me know the minute that you think you might miss a deadline?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  28:21  
Yes. I want to hide! This is real.

Marsha Clark  28:30  
So you have two deadlines coming up. Is everything on track to hit those deadlines?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  28:37  
Yeah, I can't guarantee that I won't miss a deadline.

Marsha Clark  28:41  
Well, of course you can't, and I want you to hear me again. I didn't ask you never to miss a deadline. You know, because of course you can't promise or guarantee that. But you know, my expectation and what I'm asking of you right now is that you're going to communicate with me in a more timely fashion and that's totally within your control.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  28:47  

Marsha Clark  28:52  
You don't need more time. You don't need more people. You don't need more money. You don't need more technology. You don't need more software to come tell me the minute you think you're going to miss a deadline. So that's the importance of the ask. And then Step No. Seven. Do you need anything from me in order to meet my expectations? And you know, what I have often heard on these missed deadlines, well you know, we're short staffed. And if that isn't true in today's world, I don't know what it is because the great resignation and forever to fill back. And you say so, you know, do you need anything else from me? Yeah, I need three more people on my team. Well, you know, we're not going to get, we're working on filling those but you know, I can't guarantee you and again, I want to support you. But the ask is that you come tell me so that we can then make adjustments accordingly. And you don't want to take on more, you don't want them to put it back on your plate in order for them to be successful. That's the watch out for step number seven.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  30:08  
Mm hmm. Okay. So quick sidebar. I don't know if you even noticed this about yourself. As you walked through all seven of these steps, it was only the last step number seven that you did not use my name.

Marsha Clark  30:25  
Oh, really?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  30:26  
Is there any thinking behind directly saying the person that you're talking to's name?

Marsha Clark  30:33  
Yeah, it makes it much more personal, right? So it does. And isn't that fascinating that I did not catch that. But I was purposely saying it in the earlier ones because I wanted you to know I'm talking to you, right? This is about you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  30:48  
It made it feel more serious. Like I was definitely sitting here listening. I was having flashbacks of my parents saying, "Wendi Renee, drop that toy, or whatever." Yeah, no, um, I was just curious about that because I definitely noticed it and it made me pay attention. It made my heart and my gut just paying attention to what you were saying to me. But I love the seven steps. It's so helpful.

Marsha Clark  31:20  
Well, I'm glad about that. And I do want to, you know, just say, it's good to have a script, it's good to have a structure. You know, I'll leave it at that for now.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  31:32  
Yeah, yeah. So do the seven steps change if the feedback is positive in nature?

Marsha Clark  31:38  
Yeah. So in some subtle ways, you know, I suppose the answer's yes. But the bottom line with positive feedback is what we're really wanting from that person, not different behavior, we want them to perpetuate, make sure they know they're doing it well. And we want them to repeat that productive behavior, so you know, providing positive feedback when someone's done something really well. And you know, there was a book title that says "Rewarded Performance is Repeated". And I read this, you know, 40 years ago, but I still believe this, because it plays out again and again, is that rewarding you with positive feedback is a way to get you to repeat that behavior. So you know citing, it's just as important, though, to cite the effective or those above and beyond behaviors. Because, you know, it's kind of like, I've had people tell me stories about well, yeah, I got a bonus check on my desk, but nobody told me what it was for. So I don't really know, but I'm still gonna cash it. But you know, I mean, it's that kind of thing. And so you're missing out on this huge opportunity when you don't cite those specific behaviors that they know were the things that you consider to their performance or behavior to be above and beyond.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  32:51  

Marsha Clark  32:51  
So it's good. And you may end up adding some responsibilities. Will you share that with others? Or will you make sure we have a conversation about that in the team or something like that, but it's still all very, you know, it's all in the spirit of encouraging them to repeat that specific behavior.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  33:09  
Exactly. You offer some great tips in the book around prepping for these constructive feedback conversations. So we you share some of those with our listeners?

Marsha Clark  33:20  
Yeah. And that's where I was going when I spoke earlier about it's great to have a structure. So here's what I'll tell you. When I first began using this, especially when you're given difficult feedback, or tough feedback for someone to hear, I get nervous and am I going to say everything I want to say and all that kind of stuff. So I literally wrote it out word for word and I practiced in front of the mirror. Because if you know, practicing it, so when I got nervous in those moments, I'd still be able to see a little bit of muscle memory, if you will, kind of that concept. And so when you first start using the tool, don't be alarmed. I mean, if you really want to be well prepared, write it out. And so you want the content and the very specific words that you use and the tone, again in the spirit of helping that person get better and develop. And I encourage you to bring the notes with you and to refer to them throughout the conversation. And let the other person know that you've got some notes, and you'll be referring to them as you share the information with them. And it brings a little more formality to the situation. And, you know, to be honest, if I keep thinking about, you know, where performance or poor performance or less than performance can play out, having the notes is a form of documentation because we all know that sometimes when people aren't performing well, we've got to start all over with... well, have you documented that? Have you had a conversation with them and all those kinds of things? And I'm not saying that every feedback conversation needs to be in preparation for a performance improvement plan or any of that. It's just nice to have whether it is to include in a performance evaluation, whether it is to recognize improved performance, you know, and those kinds of things.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  35:14  
Yeah. So we've walked through the Seven Step Feedback Model as a productive, healthy and really honorable way to address performance issues, which is the whole premise behind this episode, "Talk TO Me, Not ABOUT Me". So technically, we're done with this  episode and wrapping it up.

Marsha Clark  35:38  
Dare I hear that? Oh... I'm kind of hearing there might be more.  

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  35:42  
Yeah. So is there some other powerful tips that you add in this chapter that you think are just as important for our listeners. You know, I'd love for you to explore your tips on receiving feedback and then taking it a step further to what do you suggest on actually soliciting feedback from others?

Marsha Clark  36:05  
Yeah, you know, those are great adds. And we don't often discuss those, you know, when we're learning about giving feedback, but how do I ask for feedback. And, you know, as I say, in the book, when we give constructive feedback, we're telling the other person, I care about you, and you can trust me to provide feedback that's going to help you learn and grow and take on bigger responsibilities and even achieve career aspirations. And likewise, when we're open to receiving constructive feedback, we're telling the other person that I trust and value your observations and your desire to help me improve. And once we've heard the feedback, it's our choice as to what to do with it, you know. So, for example, if the feedback is similar to something that you received before, you may want to refocus your efforts. You know, my deal is always a dot is a dot two dots is a line three dots is a trend. And, you know, if I'm hearing this feedback, again, it means I've still got work to do. Because it's, you know, something I've heard before, and I may have either fallen back into some old patterns or whatever that might be. But consider how that might be worth, you know, really exploring and re-committing to do something about. Now if it's new feedback, so that's when I've heard it before this is if it's new feedback, and it may even seem contradictory to feedback that I've been receiving, you may want to check it out with someone who knows you well, or who is able to observe you in more situations, and someone again, that you know has your best interests at heart to validate that it's not just, remember how we talked about the person seeing the world through their lens, right. So it's, I often say feedback is as much about the giver as it is about the receiver. So you know, so there's some real value in validating that others are seeing it the same before you immediately go out and try to change something to please that person.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  38:07  

Marsha Clark  38:09  
So one last point that I touch on in my book is that, you know, it's my experience that the higher you go in an organization up that hierarchical ladder, the less feedback you're going to receive. They just expect you to know what to do and to keep doing it. And I often use the analogy of "I told you I loved you when I married you. If anything changes, I'll let you know". So it's also, so in addition to the higher up you go, the less feedback you get, it's also my experience that women often seek feedback more frequently than men do. And that's not good or bad. It's just different. And so, you know, the watch out is that if you keep asking for feedback, how did I do, do you have any feedback for me, anything I could have done better, what do you think about...?  you know, just you know, that kind of stuff again and again and again, I might be perceived as needy or insecure or lacking confidence.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  39:10  
Yeah, that's the last thing we want.

Marsha Clark  39:12  
That's right. That's right. So let me offer a way to get the kind of feedback you want, and you never have to use the word feedback. So this is, you know, this is gold right here. Listen up. All right. So here's the example that we that I use in the book, and I think it's, you know, one that's most exemplary. So, Boss, we've just completed big project alpha. And it was a really good learning experience. And, you know, I'm proud of my team and I'm proud of the leadership that I offered to my team. And as I review the project, here's what I thought worked really well. And then you share your bullets of things that you thought worked really well. And yet here, there are also some things that I learned that I think are really going to help make going forward that I would do better next time, right. So here my bullets on that. And then I, you know, ask the boss, you know, from your perspective, you've got a lot more experience in running projects than I do. Have I missed anything? And, you know, you may have seen something that wasn't as obvious to me. So I would appreciate any, you know, insights or thoughts that you might have, as it relates to big project alpha. And then I'm going to listen. So the points around this is I know what I did well and I know what I what I learned, right? So I don't need the external validation from you, because I'm probably my own worst critic anyway. So I'm going to tell you, I'm also going to give myself credit for the things that worked really well, going back to results plus recognition equals influence. So I'm gaining some influence because I'm telling you some good things that happened. I recognize there's some things, and I'm helping that boss, I'm helping myself by helping that boss only have to fill in the blanks, rather than provide feedback starting with a blank sheet of paper.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  41:07  
Mm Hmm. Which is huge.

Marsha Clark  41:09  
Yeah, because you know, he's connecting what I'm saying to other things, right, versus saying, okay, where in my brain is that part? Right? So we're already there. And he just has to sort of add on or go with and if he says, you know, I can't think of anything, you go, well, you know give it, use humor a little bit and go, Hooray for our team, you know. Glad that you think we did as well as we did. So giving yourself some of that credit without, and you get, and you're getting what you needed, right?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  41:44  
Exactly. So would you suggest, or do you have a recommendation or a preference that this example that you just walked through, would you say this in person face to face? Or would you recommend that this is in an email so that you have formal documentation?

Marsha Clark  42:05  
Yes, make sure it's in writing. So that's right. So for those, you know, who do use it, whether it's with your boss, or even your customers, I've also done it with customers or anybody else that you're trying to get feedback from, you know, I would say, you can have the conversation. That would be the ideal situation, because there's just more to be read, you know.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  42:30  
Exactly. Body language and all that.

Marsha Clark  42:33  
Right. And, but then I would, you know, encourage you to follow it up in an email and thank them for their input, especially if they had something that they would add, and, or, you know, if they did everything, and I'm really glad that I was able to, you know, provide the reflection of what worked and what didn't work, or what would be better next time. So take a little credit for your observations being complete. And, you know, again, it communicates to your boss that you're a learner, right, because I'll do it better next time. I'm confident I know what worked, I know what didn't, and I'm self sufficient, you know, that I'm not needy, that sort of the other end of that continuum. And again, it gives you the recognition for the good work that you did, and, you know, be sincere, be balanced, be high level, do not go into minutiae detail, because that will turn them off, and they won't hear half of what you're saying. So, be careful around that and stay at a level of, you know, major milestones and that kind of thing. And, you know what I will tell you is that the boss is likely going to file that email somewhere so that when it does come time to do your performance review, they're going to have that at hand.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  43:43  
Yeah, that's great. And that's why I love this topic and these tools. I mean, practical, relevant, helpful.

Marsha Clark  43:51  
Yeah, it really is one of my go to tools, and everybody that I share it with tells me that similarly. And, you know, I want to make sure that our listeners see the strong link to the Seven Step Feedback tool and the title of this podcast, "Talk To Me, Not About Me". So if someone is not performing well, or not meeting your expectations, whatever that might look like, complaining to everyone else about them does absolutely no good and and may in fact, potentially damage that person's reputation. And it is a true, true, true leadership responsibility to talk to that person in a professional supportive, timely way. And that's what I mean by talk to them and not about them.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  44:43  
Yeah, great connection. So besides the Seven Step Feedback model as a key takeaway, what else would you say are the highlights from today's episode?

Marsha Clark  44:53  
Well, again, I'm gonna take us right back to the very beginning, which is start with a clear intention and understanding of the situation with the intention being, in many cases to improve performance, to grow or develop capabilities, and hopefully lots of cases as well to have that person repeat good behavior for future, you know, performance. And in the case of the constructive or harder to hear or deliver feedback, recognizing the role that you may have played in the performance issue, especially if your expectations weren't clear. So if I haven't provided those, then it's on me. And the other part is understanding how the impact and consequences can be problematic if you're trying to hold someone accountable for a behavior that isn't actually measured or valued in the organization. So you know, that's that individual metrics versus, you know, doing things that don't negatively impact your team. And be sure to use it, the model the seven steps, for positive feedback as well as to reinforce, you know, the negative behaviors, and, you know, be a role model. That's, that's something we didn't spend a lot of time on. But being a role model for receiving feedback and help your leader by offering up some of those, you know, self prescribed feedback and getting their input on it. But even if one of your direct employees wants to give you feedback, be receptive to it and try to understand it. Don't be indignant and don't think about, well who are you to tell me, you know, kind of thing.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  46:30  
Right. Be a good model. Exactly. And don't get upset if they don't walk through the seven steps because they're probably not going to. Yeah, I mean, Marsha, thank you so much for walking us through this model. This one was a big confidence builder for me going through the Power of Self Program because feedback is just, receiving and giving feedback is just such an important part of corporate life or business owner life or, you know, any kind of business or any relationship, family life. Yeah, yeah, everything is always a give back, I think a give exchange of feelings about what's going on. So I love that we have a kind of  model that we can refer to. It just gives a person so much more confidence in the situation.

Marsha Clark  47:27  
Yes, as I said, it is one of the most often used tools and the feedback that I get, it just helps people get prepared because it usually is a very high anxiety kind of situation to give that, and it helps me know that I'm prepared and that I have all the information that I need. So you're more than welcome for, you know, allowing me to share this and I loved your questions along the way because I think, you know, that helps us to kind of unpack it in a way that was useful for our listeners. And, you know, as you say, when we do use the the feedback model well, it does boost our confidence and help us to be a more effective leader and a more authentic leader because we're being transparent about what's going on for us.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  48:14  
Yeah, I'd definitely take more transparency all day long. Definitely. So thank you all for joining us, listeners, for joining us today on our journey of authentic, powerful leadership. Please download subscribe and share this podcast wherever you'd like to listen. Visit Marsha's website at for links to the tools and other resources we talked about today. Subscribe to her email list so you can stay up to date on everything going on with Marsha and find out more about her latest book. You've got to get the book "Embracing Your Power". Marsha, I just have to admit on this episode I got through your book in about three days. And I want to say that probably 70% of it is highlighted and I wrote notes all over it. And I filled out the worksheets and checklists and all of it. So people, if you're listening and you haven't bought this book yet, it's amazing, the amount of thinking, self reflection thinking, filling out the lists and the activities. So powerful. So thank you, Marsha, for writing this book. Yes.

Marsha Clark  49:33  
Well, thank you for that, uh, unexpected...

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  49:36  
I just had to go a little deeper today because I just finished it and it was so amazing. Took me right back to the program.

Marsha Clark  49:45  
Well, you know, people have been saying when are you going to write the book, so we did and hopefully people,

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  49:50  
Part one. Part one.

Marsha Clark  49:51  
Yeah, that's right.  And as I've written in several of the, you know, my autograph copies on the website is that I hope It becomes a valuable resource in a leadership library because that highlighted part and you can go back to it again and again and again and with the tools that we have in there, so it's a written record that you can keep at your fingertips. So thank you for that, Wendi. But I will say to the listeners today, we encourage you to let us know what you're thinking and how you're feeling about what you're hearing on these podcasts. We want them to be valuable for you. So let us hear from you. And thank you for being a listener today and we hope you'll keep, you know, listening and downloading our episodes. And we also hope you'll join us again as we come to you next week. So, as always, here's to women supporting women!

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