Friday, November 26, 2010

The Vision Thing - Taking a stab at it!

Having a “Vision” is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for success.  
Not necessary, because there are hundreds of organizations that do not have a ‘vision’ – at least formally -- and have yet been hugely successful; the ‘dabbawalas of Bombay come to mind.  Similarly, there are an equal number of organizations ‘sporting’ elaborate vision statements that have not even taken off the ground.

In my view, a formal vision (statement) is a nice to have.  It certainly helps clear ambiguity, especially, if it is something different from the usual, “leader in our chosen market” type. 
Again, to me, vision is not necessarily the vision statement.  Let me give a notable example.  Here is what I found on the website of The Body Shop. 
“I just want The Body Shop to be the best, most breathlessly exciting company – and one that changes the way business is carried out. That is my vision.”  Anita Roddick. Human Rights Activist.   Founder of The Body Shop. 

That’s a great vision!  But, you may agree that statement, by itself, could hardly be credited with the success of the company.  To my mind, The Body Shop’s real vision is buried deep inside their “Values”.  It goes, “…we always strive to protect this beautiful planet and the people who depend on it. We don’t do it this way because it’s fashionable. We do it because, to us, it’s the only way.”  Building a ‘cosmetic’ company -- with all the baggage the word carries -- around such a value is the real vision; linking the near opposites of ‘cosmetic’ and ‘natural’. 

Visions come in at least two broad flavors.  Some talk about market leadership, growth, return to share holders, serving customers and the like.  In fact a quick review of a random hundred vision statements will reveal that most address such areas.  I call this category “Stab” visions.  (They take a stab at making a statement and they STAte the oBvious.)  When a vision statement states something inevitable, something that no business / organization can do without, that is a Stab vision.  I will go out on a limb and say that such vision statements are useless.  Dump them.  Remove them from your websites.

The other category is where they try to do something more (or less?) than the obvious.  Perhaps even instead of the obvious.  “We will strive NOT to please our customers” is a vision that would certainly fall under this second category!   More seriously, such visions are often product-driven.  They show a certain passion for the product, service or competence that is offered.  Sometimes, a different way of looking at the obvious. 

The recent news story about Café Rottenmeier in Tokyo, is a case in point.  At this café, all the waiters are "granny maids".  They have been selected through an open recruitment process seeking people, aged between 24 and 77, who "see themselves as grannies".  Besides serving their customers with a terse, unsmiling greeting, they even scold them for slouching on chairs or for not removing their coats!  And this ‘customer service’ has been drawing over 500 guests each day, besides huge viral publicity (to which, I now, wittingly contribute)!  Visions like “a PC on every desktop” fall in the same genre.  They reflect a passion, or dimension, for the product or service on offer – not the demands of share holders.

While a vision does not have to be ‘unique’, if it is not about your product or service, if it does not talk about addressing a different aspect (a novel insight?) of your customer behavior, you may be drifting into Stab zone.  


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Exit Interviews and Reference Checks

This post actually takes off from Rajan's comment on my last post, "When the good guys leave...".   I also use it as a segue to the related issue of Reference Checks.

First, to respond to Rajan: Your experience does (unfortunately) correspond with some of mine as well and it is definitely not too far off from what many have experienced.  But isn't that typical of any process that is done "half-heartedly" and without a clear understanding of it's value?  That's one reason, I believe it should be done by carefully identified interviewers.  These interviewers should not only be skilled in order to be able to flush out the facts but also have the courage to convey it to Management.
As for management using the new information; that's like any other input that Management receives.  It always has the prerogative to use the information it gets in any manner it thinks fit.  That is what, essentially, differentiates good management.

A Management that is serious about exit interviews will not only make sure it is conducted by skilled people, it will also ensure it tracks the feedback so received.  Of course, effective exit interviews cannot be termed ineffective just because no action was taken immediately.  Rather, good Management would not take action based on one interview.  I would say, just like customer feedback, information received from exit interviews too should be collated, verified and studied before taking action.

The "out of line" point is interesting too!  What does that mean?  If it is supposed to mean that what the exiting member has said is not in line with what Management has heard from others, that's one thing.  I'd say one needs to await a 'confirmation' of this new information.
But what if it is to mean that the exiting member is not in line with Management's thinking?  Irrespective of the specifics, I would argue it is better -- both for the organization and for the employee -- to leave if they are not in alignment.  For all you know, it could be the employee who is right.  But, as long as the Management is convinced otherwise,  it would be better for the 'un-aligned' employee to leave.  This alone will enable Management to pursue it's strategy or goal, full throttle.  Having said that, the exit interview would yet have fulfilled its purpose.  It gives an opportunity to the exiting member to vent his / her frustration and allows them to highlight their perspective to management and gives Management a data point to consider.  As these points accumulate, it could well lead them to change or modify their stance on the issue.  Provided of course, the entire process is managed with sincerity, i.e., with a conviction as to its usefulness and by capturing and tracking the information collected in the process.

A neat segue from this issue is the practice of doing Reference Checks.  I have seen so many companies that do this so perfunctorily that it could well qualify for axing the entire process.  Typically, this process involves an HR employee calling the candidate's referees and reading questions from a prepared questionnaire.   I have seen cases where this happens even after the candidate has joined, because the 'person concerned' was on leave or just too tied up with other duties.  In many cases, the interviewer receives no training -- or even a briefing -- on the impact of the process or how it is to be handled.  What is important is to file the neccessary forms in the HR file, to fulfill an "ISO certification requirement".

And yet, there are others who have gained meaningful insights into a candidate by asking pointed (and sometimes, even open) questions and pushing for a detailed response.  I recall at least two cases where imaginative ref-checks have resulted in clear benefits to the company.
In one situation I interviewed a 'grossly over-qualified' candidate.  He was certainly impressive and seemed to have all the right credentials for the vacancy we had.  The only loose piece was that he could well have gone for a higher-paying and bigger job.  I was quite desperate for a good candidate and decided to put aside my fears and short listed him anyway.  And then we did our usual reference check.  The referee was obviously a very busy person.  She pleaded she had no time for the interview.  She, however, quietly sent us an one line email referring us to a news report that went back a couple of years.  Following that link led us to the fact that the guy was practically a fraud.  His claims to 'ivy league' education being totally fabricated, as verified by the news paper with the concerned University.
The second case hardly qualifies as a ref-check in the conventional sense.  This is the practice apparently followed by Panasonic at some of is facilities... obviously Japanese inspired!

As the candidate comes in for the final interview, s/he is welcomed by a 'lower level' employee and ushered into the ante-room of the big boss.  As s/he waits to be called in, this employee strikes an innocuous conversation with the candidate.  How the candidate reacts to this 'intrusion' is actually carried verbatim to the Management and goes toward assessing their attitude toward lower level staff.  Very clever I thought!  Not very white or transparent, but I can see how it can be very effective.

The point is this: even a 'best practice' -- especially HR related -- is effective only if it is implemented with conviction and a due process is installed to make it happen consistently.  This includes developing and implementing a process as much as hiring and training the right people.  That -- like everything else ties back to Management.  It's style, it's convictions and it's willingness to learn.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

When the good guys leave...

Of all the miseries that can dog the pursuit of Operations Excellence, surely the worst is high attrition – good guys leaving!

I would rate it even above good customers leaving!

Firstly, it is a sign that employees have lost faith in management. It is an indictment that the top management is either totally unaware of the attrition (maybe they are not tracking the metric at all!) or they are in denial (no, it’s just a co-incidence) and basically, there is no plan to take any corrective action.
Now, of course, whenever new leadership takes position and ratchets up a sleepy culture, there is anxiety and people too accustomed to a ‘comfortable life’ will leave.   This is not the same as the attrition I am talking about here.  Of course, when undesirable people leave, it is great news…!  And if there are way too many of the wrong types in an organization, even all of them leaving is not such a bad thing to happen after all!
Yet, we would like them to leave in small lots, so customer service does not slip even further!

But attrition is not always ‘self-propelled’.  One, often-seen, situation is where a new competitor (any organization that is seeking the same kind of staff) has entered the market and is systematically attacking your company by making attractive offers to your staff that are too good for them to refuse.  How does one react to such a situation?

I have seen a variety of reactions from leaders.

One obvious strategy is to ‘lock-in’ your talent with either ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ chains! 
Hard chains are essentially legal bonds, which require the employee to pay a large sum or give a very long notice, if they desire to leave the company. 
The long notice rarely works.  Which company would force an employee to ‘work’ productively, when s/he has already professed allegiance to another company, possibly a competitor?  Rather, many companies, on suspicion of an employee moving to a competitor, will ask them to leave immediately, lest s/he learn even more strategic / competitive secrets to be passed on to the new employer.

Monetary provisions do work to a certain extent.  Senior management candidates, who do not want to burn their bridges -- lest their sins come back to visit them in an ever shrinking world -- rarely try to jump bonds, unless of course, they have other legal reasons.  On the other hand, if the person is really good, many ‘acquiring’ companies are happy to pay-off the large sum.

Most companies today are experimenting with ‘soft chains’.  These are essentially incentives -- stock options and other deferred benefits – which are available only several years after they have been granted.  Of course, the effectiveness of these measures is largely dependent on the amount invested in these programs, as they increase the cost of hiring for the acquiring company.

Another option is to take the issue to an industry association / chamber of commerce-type entity, if there is one and hope they intervene.  I have seen this attempted several times, but have never seen it work.  The ‘attacking’ company always refutes the allegation and says, possibly correctly, that “We never target any one company.  We only use professional agencies to source our talent and then allow our brand / company reputation to do the magic!  If more from any one company are leaving, they should look at their HR policies, rather than blame any external entity!”

The fact is that whenever a new business is launched, it has no alternative but to source experienced talent from elsewhere.  Who has not done that?

I have trouble believing consultants and academics who say employees leave their managers when they do not find the job fulfilling and that money does not count beyond a certain limit.  The fact is that most companies are not so differentiated in terms of culture as to be able to charge a ‘premium’ for it in the form of lower wages.  This means most employees do not have a strong enough reason not to move to a company that pays more.  After all, they do have an obligation towards their family as well!  So, unless your employees just love their Monday mornings, don’t believe money is not important.

An idea whose time may well have come is to stay in touch with your ‘lost talent’.  Some companies have launched or encouraged the setting up of alumni groups on public access websites like Yahoo!, LinkedIn and Facebook.  These places can enable you to keep in touch with good people you know and woo them back.  In fact, should you have the vacancy still open, it is not a bad idea to get in touch with your talent a few months after they have experienced the new company.  Often, by this time, the reality of the new culture hits them and they are wondering if the move was after all a good decision!

There is another important point that is often overlooked.  When attrition levels rise, management’s attention invariable turn toward HR policies, or worse, the HR Manager!  This may not always be true.

Many times the root cause lies outside the HR policy.  We just saw how a change in market situation – the entry of a competitor can affect your attrition levels.  Another, often invisible reason is the slippage of practices and processes.  Established processes are allowed to go lax due to cost or work pressures and become habits.  Lack of metrics ensure that the slippage does not come to the attention of management at all.  Many examples come to mind:
  • Delayed approvals of leave / expense claims and the like
  • Delayed or even inappropriate hiring
  • Performance Management (setting KPIs, providing feedback) becomes a mere formality
  • Excessive hurdles in replenishing or supplementing staff strength
  • Lack of effective orientation for new employees…
And yet, such is the nature of things that when things are going bad, they do tend to go a lot worse before getting better.  It’s much like a street that is a nightmare for traffic.  Whether this is due to pot holes on the way or just more traffic than it can handle, the act of repairing the road or laying a flyover itself causes things to go much worse during the implementation.

When an organization has lousy processes and staff is stretched thin in trying to keep the operations going, management has little choice but to re-engineer the processes and / or replace the systems.  However, this very act requires the best of talent to come together and invest huge amounts of time in the effort.  This in turn both exhausts the best people available and impacts customer service.

Faced with such a situation, many managements resist fixing the broken parts, arguing that time is not right to make such big changes.  Sometimes, this may be the right move.  But only if either the traffic is expected to recede or management has an alternate plan to divert traffic to an alternate channel / street.  Most often, however, this is just paralysis: morbid fear of things going even more wrong; without a concern for the long term or a strategy to fix things.

Good leadership, however, is rarely daunted by such a situation.  Great leaders are able to introduce a hitherto non-existing resource into the equation -- the excitement and energy brought in by a shared vision!  They are able to communicate effectively the unacceptability of the current situation, the shape and contour of a new vision and generate a wave of excitement and positive energy with that vision, at least in a small group of high performers.  It is this new energy that is used for fixing the processes and re-energizing the rest of the organization.

All said, you’ve got to accept that some employees will leave whatever you do.  The typical HR policy or practice is like a product.  It can meet the requirements of one segment of customers.  It is either ‘mainstream’ – meaning a little of everything, or ‘hard’ as in measuring everything in dollars or ‘soft’, i.e., you focus on providing a high quality work life and pay a little below the market.  There is no point agonizing over individual leavers, however valuable they may be.  What leadership should focus on is trends.
Once a trend appears, perhaps the first thing to determine is whether it is internally or externally influenced.  Keep in mind though that it is always convenient to point the finger outwards.  Perhaps, there is no better way of learning the real causes than a heart-to-heart exit interview.

If you have not done this before, here are some good ideas you should practice:
  • Do not try to win the employee back.  It is too late
  • Do not make it compulsory for the employee
  • Choose the interviewer carefully.  At the least, the interviewer should be able to pierce the chill and get into a warm ‘personal’ conversation. 
  • If the employee is senior enough or important enough, lock the time by going out for lunch or dinner.  It may be well worth it!
  • Consider having one single, over-riding objective for the interview: to understand the real reason for leaving.
  • Take his / her personal email / mobile. 

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    Six Sigma - Physician, heal thyself!

    Time for change!

    Being trained as a Master Black Belt in six sigma and calling one self an operations professional has it's share of burdens. Like, you are expected to be a devotee, defender or even fanatic of the six sigma methodology.
    But, the more leaders I meet, the more I am convinced that Six Sigma, at least as conventionally defined, has not moved with the times. In fact most leaders I meet exhibit a strong resistance toward implementing the system. Worse, they have some pretty logical reasons.

    To me, therefore, it is clear the time has come for six sigma to undergo some 'continuous improvement'. Seriously.

    First, it is so 1970s... so manufacturing. Consider for instance, this anal fixation on 'defects'. I think the credit has to go to Microsoft for bringing this whole concept that 'defects' are killers to its knees. Microsoft has demonstrated that you can not only survive with defects, in fact, you can thrive on them; make money off them! Moreover the Google generation has famously celebrated the concept of 'don't go for perfection'. Just launch it and tweak as you go. The point is, in today's web-world, defects do not seem to be as bad as they did a few decades ago.
    With even great brand personalities blogging and tweeting and SMSing, spellings and grammar have gone out the door. With beta versions hitting the market, defects are factored into customer expectations. People have become far more forgiving of defects. The focus has shifted to overall value... experience. "Give me an exciting experience, something really cool! Its OK, if there are a few glitches, some random 'bugs' here and there. I can live with that." In fact, the very birth of these euphemisms for defects are a sign of social change. A "defect" sounds like a serious matter. A few bugs is entirely different!
    Net, net, defect-free goods and services are so yesterday.

    Now, of course, I have swung to an extreme to make the point. I am not arguing that defects do not matter any more. Sure they do. The point is that 'eliminating' defects is not the holy grail it used to be. Not in the information sector at least; or more specifically, not in the 'non-life-threatening' sectors.
    In fact, in many day-to-day applications, the customer is happy to try out the new, untested gizmo - and pay top dollar for it - and junk the tried and tested equipment that was working absolutely fine. Classic six sigma does not address these trends.
    Second, where's innovation? In DMAIC, the focus on eliminating defects is extreme! (there you go... another anal term. Merriam Webster defines elimination as "the act, process, or an instance of eliminating or discharging: as a: the act of discharging or excreting waste products from the body...").  It distracts form providing real, innovative value to the customer. Whatever brainstorming and innovative thinking takes place in a six sigma project is mostly focused on ways to remove the defects - not to add additional value to the customer or to enrich her experience. In fact, classic six sigma is also pretty weak on Moments of Truth - the study of customer experience at various points along the chain.  The focus is somewhat better in the case of DMADV / DFSS - the methodology for designing defect-free products and services.  But not by much.  Certainly not what the Gen-X / Gen-Y customer of today demands.

    Third, consider employee morale, motivation and all those nice things. Lets admit it, if six sigma would have its way, it would have every worker work as much like a robot as possible. There would be standard operating procedures, designated tools for every task to be performed, designated areas (painted on the floor) for carrying out each task, detailed measurement of defects, dashboards showing all this data... one can go on. Certainly not a happy hunting ground for the Gen-X / Gen-Y, smart, high energy work force of today.

    Some notable anecdotes...
    • Robert Nardelli, used Six Sigma to take Home Depot to # 1 Retailer. Profitability soared – but at a cost. Gradually, worker morale drooped and customer sentiment followed. His successor, Frank Blake (also GE) is dialing back giving more lee way to Store Managers.
    • Ann Fudge, (also GE), CEO, tried to sell Six Sigma to ad executives at Young & Rubicam – and flamed out quickly.
    • Dave Carter is going slow with Six Sigma in its application to innovative processes at Raytheon. “Most Six Sigma practitioners are very strong on the left brain, innovation very much starts in the right hemisphere”
    We have also seen the recognition of these developments in the emergence of variations like Lean Six Sigma, Service Sigma and many others. Many large corporates have recognized an innate aversion to six sigma in their teams and preferred to tweak it to suit their needs and even give it their own name.
    • Dell for instance calls it "Business Process Improvement". The program, is a combination of Six Sigma, Lean, and Hoshin Planning.
    • Honeywell has tweaked it too and calls it "Six Sigma Plus"
    • At Johnson & Johnson, Six Sigma is just "Process Excellence".
    These adaptations have retained the core philosophy and brought in various changes. But all these have just managed to confuse managers.
    So, where does six sigma go from here?  What we need is a methodology that retains the core of six sigma - such as the DMAIC cycle, for instance and yet broadens the objectives and tools used to address changes in the market place.  IMHO, for Six Sigma 2.0 :
    1. The focus needs to shift from elimination of defects to Customer Satisfaction (or Delight, if you please).
    2. The methodology should address more than 'process improvement' or 'defect-free design'.  The DMAIC and DMADV cycles, and several other elements that are already within the scope of six sigma or can easily be borrowed, have the potential of being exploited on a broader scale.  For me, that larger scope is best summed up by the term 'problem solving'.
    3. There is an urgent need to adapt it to the new generation that does not want SOPs! Today we have the most complex games, social networking websites and even PDAs that do not need operating manuals. Kids don't read books before playing the latest online games. They just begin!
    4. A large tool-kit for creative thinking and for coming up with innovative solutions needs to be developed
    5. The focus on assessing and understanding customer requirements needs to evolve into understanding customer behavior, underlying motives - even a bit of anthropology - to dream up the most convenient, most desirable solution and then search for appropriate technologies that can make it happen.  This will require a search for new tools and incorporating them in the right phase of the project.
    You want to add something?


    Friday, April 30, 2010

    The "Heavy Hitter" and the "Big Guy"

    You would have heard the Term "Heavy Hitter" if you've worked in an American company.  Some others use the simpler "Big Guy".  Typically used in an Operations context (and hence my interest), these are Managers who head and manage large teams - read head count or FTE.  I heard of these and, possibly, even used these terms in GE and other companies I worked for.
    Nice informal terms in themselves.  The problem lies in their association with head count.  Recently, I came across this term again.  Nothing wrong you might say, its only a name.  Disagree.

    I think it reinforces the wrong kind of behavior.  Measuring only the size of the team you lead to identify the big guy, is all yesterday.  If you really want to drive a culture that focuses on core competency, global sourcing / out sourcing and sub-contracting, measuring a managers potential or experience by the number of people s/he handles can only result in building large teams, turf wars and politics.

    Chatting informally with Nagi Nagendran, Managing Director of Operations at Citi, Kuala Lumpur, just confirmed this! He notes that while on the one hand, large banks and financial institutions encourage headcount and cost reductions, when it comes to grading operations jobs, number of people managed still plays a big role- an intrinsic disconnect! His personal take is that with increased digitization and and spreading of work across multiple sites and entities -including captives and third parties- senior operations managers will really be managing a 'network' where it is tough to employ 'people managed' as a primary measure of job size. Other factors, taken across the network as a whole, will become more important in his view.

    The 'only a name' logic doesn't work either.  As the wag said, a rose may be a rose by any other name, but order a bunch of bougainvilleas for your girl friend and you'll learn something new!   More importantly, a name connotes a brand.  Also, give a name to anything and you begin getting attached to it.  Inversely, give something ugly or undesirable a nice name and you start accepting it.  I am reminded of "putting a pet to sleep".  You get the drift...

    I am not arguing a case for banning the terms.  My attempt is to re-define them.  "Heavy Hitter" and "Big Guy" should, may be, look at the budget a manager controls, or even better, the change he is able to make in key ratios: say, revenue per head or profit per head.  And don't just use these ratios in absolute terms.  It is even better to measure the year-on-year change in these ratios.  Now, if you increase profit per head by 15% over previous year, that's a Big Guy, ready for the bigger job!  Agree?


    Friday, April 16, 2010

    The Power of Feedback

    Feedback is one of the most under-utilized tools of leadership! There is, of course, lots of literature on customer feedback and how that helps product development, relationship management and the like; but precious little on its importance in Performance Management, and therefore on the criticality of feedback in leadership training.  Now, I would not be so vocal about it if I had not learnt of this MNC taking up feedback training as a strategic leadership initiative across all its global offices.

    Today, I want to focus on management feedback.The ones we (are supposed to) give to and take from our teams.

    The more I dig into this, the more I am convinced that it is a critical part of a performance improvement program.  If you have a Performance Improvement program or training going on in your company, I’d advise you to dig into it and ensure there is a big chunk that talks about the importance of and the 'how to' of giving and accepting feedback.

    Most of us do use some types of feedback extensively.  The problem is more to do with the adequacy and the richness of the feedback we get and give.  Lets focus on that for a moment.

    Technically, feedback describes the situation when output from an event in the past will influence the same event in the future.This is enabled by informing the performer about the outcome and the manner in which the outcome was achieved (or missed). The idea is for the performer to appreciate, both intellectually and emotionally, the manner in which s/he put in effort and how that effort impacted the outcome. The idea is for the performer to use the new information to do a better job of the next effort s/he makes. Thus, feedback can be said to be effective only if the information provided changes performance in the desired direction. To look at it differently, one really cannot (it, really, is impossible to) improve one’s performance without feedback.
    The most common form of feedback we receive is in the form of the outcome of our effort itself, i.e., whether or not our efforts have resulted in output that works. Whether we have passed or flunked. This is great and definitely qualifies as the first and primary form of feedback. This level of feedback is OK for the most basic of activities. Activities that are so simple - or where one's understanding of it is so deep - that the mere binary information of good or bad tells me what exactly I should change to get it right next time. Unfortunately, most often this is far from adequate. Lets call this Level Zero feedback.
    Six Sigma teaches us that finding a defective unit, in itself, can do very little in terms of improving our performance. At best, we can remove that particular unit or activity from the pile of finished goods (or our CV) to ensure that it does not bother the customer (or employer). We still may not know how the defective result came about in the first instance, and much less about how not to repeat that part of the process. So, we do need a deeper analysis or insight into the process to make out where exactly we went wrong and what it is that we need to change.
    This is where feedback can be most helpful. If you can use your experience and expertise in helping your team member identify the ‘Defect Opportunity’* in the process, you are adding significant value to his/her learning. The cognitive element of understanding where exactly I went wrong and the emotional element of generating a new hope that I will definitely do better next time, gives me a massive boost of adrenalin. That is the power of feedback. That is the spring action that effective feedback results in. That motivational aspect is the reaso feedback is so important from a leadership perspective as well.
    Importantly, the Defect Opportunity does not lie in the output. The output only tells us of defects present, if any. The Defect Opportunity lies in the Input and / or the Process. This means it lies either in our knowledge or understanding of the process or its intended outcome, or in the actions taken to achieve it.
    If you, like me, are hooked to visuals, I would picture it as shown in Figure 1.

    Of course, you can do better than merely pointing out the defect opportunity where s/he went wrong. You can help analyze and diagnose it for him / her. This can help even better in avoiding the same mistake next time. This means, through your past experience you have learned the various points in the process where one could go wrong and you share this with your team. The idea is that your protégé will be able to use this information to be more ‘careful’ at these points, to avoid making defects. We may call this Level One feedback.
    The fact is, you can do even better! To make your feedback even more effective, you can also share how best s/he could avoid going wrong at each defect opportunity. The tips and tricks you have learnt from your own experience and received wisdom on how to avoid making those mistakes in those circumstances. When you do this effectively, you have achieved Level Two feedback. You are now clearly on the journey of performance improvement.
    Finally, the very best kind of feedback I know is where we coach our ward on how s/he can analyze his/her own performance to improve results… teaching them to fish, as it were. This is what kicks off a virtual feedback cycle for your protégé; where s/he builds this analysis / feedback phase into the core process. That is Level Three feedback! Figure 2 depicts the feedback Maturity Model.

    Let me also sound a cautionary note. What we have talked about above is assuming your protégé cannot perform these tasks him/herself. This is important for the leader to understand. If your team member is shrewd enough to do this analysis by him/herself, you will only end up killing their enthusiasm by going through the four levels routinely.  As a good leader, you need to be able to effectively assess the capability, energy and enthusiasm of your protégé / team to give the right level of feedback and back-off at the right time!

    Hope this helped... I am waiting to read your feedback!


    * The element, action or event that gives us a chance for making a defect.