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Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Short Course in Human Relations

The six most important words:

"I admit I made a mistake."
The five most important words:

"You did a good job."
The four most important words:

"What is your opinion?"
The three most important words:

"If you please."
The two most important words:

"Thank you."
The one most important word:

The least important word:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Good feedback avoids these pitfalls

Good feedback is an essential management tool. Unfortunately, some feedback does more harm than good, leaving employees resentful, defensive, and unmotivated. When you need to give feedback to correct an employee’s mistake or performance problem, steer away from these common errors:

Sugarcoating your feedback. Respect the employee’s feelings, but don’t hide your real concerns behind vague language that doesn’t tell employees what they need to do. “You do great work when you’re here,” doesn’t communicate the same message as, “Your absenteeism is becoming a problem.”

Starting out too strong. Some managers take a harsh approach at the outset to preempt possible arguments. Take a tone that’s businesslike and firm, not angry or confrontational, so you don’t alienate the employee right away. You want employees to listen and respond to your concerns so you can work together.

Focusing on the problem instead of the solution. Yes, you need to describe the problem so employees understand what you’re talking about and why it’s important. But move on quickly and emphasize that your goal is to find a solution, not a scapegoat.

Forcing an improvement plan. Your employee needs to understand the nature of the problem before he or she will accept the need to change. Just telling him or her what to do differently won’t win real commitment. Work together as much as possible to develop an action plan you can both live with.

Mistaking explanations for excuses. Don’t jump to conclusions when employees explain the situation. There may be a valid reason for a missed deadline or mistake—an overload of work, for example, or faulty equipment that you’re unaware of. Employees should be responsible enough to deal with problems, of course, but don’t dismiss their explanations out of hand—they may point to structural problems that only a manager can resolve.

Forgetting to follow up. Most people don't integrate feedback without some follow up from the feedback giver.