Speaking the Truth in Love
Last week we learned ways to seek the truth and this week we ask you again to choose brave over safe as it pertains to speaking the truth.
We all understand the benefits of receiving good feedback. We appreciate the truth and opportunity to grow. If presented properly, it is a loving act that can redirect us toward the path of productivity.
Having the tough conversation or presenting employee feedback is another area where we must choose to be brave. The safest conversation is the one that never happens.
Here are five ways you can become a champion deliverer of feedback:
1) PRAY ABOUT THE UPCOMING CONVERSATION
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
As Christians, we have an incredible advantage because we can ask the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and be present in these conversations.
2) MAKE SURE MY ATTITUDE IS LOVING AND NOT SELF MOTIVATED
Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
Having the right mindset for the conversation is essential for positive results. Salt all feedback with grace and truth, knowing your focus is on a commitment or genuine concern for the growth of the other person. Make sure the conversation focuses on behaviors, changes, and desired outcomes. Keep the conversation goal oriented.
3) BE WELL PREPARED
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18
Take the time to research and gather all the facts. Good feedback is accurate and specific. It takes intentional thought and planning. Be able to present detailed examples of the behavior and the effects of the behavior. Broad strokes lead to confusion. Focus on providing clarity in every step of the feedback process.
Here is an example of two different ways of presenting feedback:
"Jim, I didn't like this week's blog content. You need to change it and give it more 'sizzle'."
"Jim, your blogs are well written and fact filled but lack compelling content. I want to encourage you to add an inspirational story and then finish by giving our readers specific practical steps they can use to grow as leaders."
Feedback does not always have to be negative. As an effective leader, you have learned the art of acknowledgment, appreciation and affirmation. When you see it, you say it. Use the same method in presenting positive feedback. Again, here are two different ways of presenting feedback:
"Jim, great job on that sales call yesterday".
"Jim, I loved the way you listened yesterday and then connected with the client. You were prepared with handouts, you handled their objections well and then answered all the "whys" for them."
4) HAVE A CLEAR DESIRED OUTCOME
The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. Proverbs 20:5
Listen as much as your talk. Make this a dialogue, not a monologue. Learn all you can about the situation or event and then ask inquiring questions that can lead the conversation to a productive and positive outcome.
As you stay "solution focused", be aware that you may receive pushback. Determine if there is validity to the pushback or is the person making excuses. Continue to present factual evidence and restate the behavior and effect of the behavior on themselves and others. Having the person take ownership of the problem is essential for resolution.
5) DEVELOP AN ACTION PLAN
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13
After presenting the "what", begin shifting the conversation to "what's next."
Determine and discuss the specific action steps necessary to correct the behavior and begin looking forward. Throughout his writings in the New Testament, Paul provides corrective and instructive feedback to church leadership. Here is the typical format used:
Compliment / affirmation
Discussion of issues and problems / changes / expectations
Compliment / affirmation / direction / encouragement
Tough conversations focus on correcting behavior. They are not about degrading the value of the individual. Affirming people at the beginning and end acknowledges their value and sandwiched in between is the necessary behavior adjustment.
Focus on these five points and you will find that giving feedback can be positive and productive. So prepare well and then be brave enough to start the conversation that matters.