"I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said I donÕt know."
Mark Twain

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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 366

Estimated reading time:  1.55 minutes


Greetings from another beautiful day on Canada's west coast.


I've been working hard with my editor on my book, and we're getting very good traction. I've been reflecting through the process about the importance of candour and feedback.


Many of the emerging leaders with whom I work (and those who have been managing and leading for some time) talk of the challenges of giving feedback; I don't want to hurt the person, they don't listen, they just get upset for no reason, they should know, and a host of other experiences that wind up hindering honest, clear feedback. 


There are some good suggestions on how to deliver feedback in the business literature, including for example 'the no sandwich' where the manager gives the negative feedback between two slices of positive feedback.


The best in my experience is to think of the issue as a monkey on the back of the employee, getting in the way of them performing at their best. His helps distinguish between the person and the issue or behaviour; the monkey is the problem, not the person.


The trick is to get the monkey off the persons back and onto the table in front of the two of you to explore. One of the worst things you can do is to simply take the monkey off the person's back and put it on your own; remember you have your own!


To get the monkey from the person's back into the table requires a little finesse, discovered best through practice. There are though three basic principles for dealing with monkeys of this type:


1. Start early, a small monkey is easier to move than a chimpanzee or gorilla.


2. Ask questions about the impact of the monkey on the person, we usually buy in more quickly to seeing monkeys when we see the impact they have on us.


3. Appreciate the person for dealing with the monkey, a pat on the shoulder, a quiet word, or a thumbs up and a thank you will go a long way to keeping that monkey from returning.


By focusing on the monkey, not the person, you will find it much easier to offer important and useful feedback.