Tell Me How I'm Doing - Richard L. Williams

Tell Me How I'm Doing - Richard L. Williams

Discover here how to build and improve relationships through good feedbacks and consequently leverage your company’s performance.

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Managers don't know why some of their employees don't do what is expected of them. Parents don't know how distancing begins in their relationship with their children. All of that is related with feedback, you must know how to do it! Richard Williams shows in "Tell me How I'm Doing" how to give and receive it!

The look of this psychologist with vast experience in the business world brings to us some guidelines to implement this culture in our lives.

However, understanding the problem is not the difficult part. The point is: how to solve it? The feedback world is much harder than you think, but in this summary we've separated the main tips to build great relationships and increase your results.

Got interested to become a better leader? Stay with us in this summary and discover how!

About the book "Tell Me How I'm Doing"

"Tell Me How I'm Doing" was published in 2005. From the background in social, organizational, communications psychology, and from his experience as a business consultant, Richard Williams brought to the book the principles, concepts, and practices about feedback.

Feedback is, in a simplified view, the act of conveying an opinion or impression about action to the perpetrator. It is characterized here as a powerful tool for building healthy relationships, both in the personal and professional fields.

Throughout 144 pages, divided between 9 chapters, the author uses a feature that makes reading quite enjoyable and light: a short fictional story involving a running business with manager training.

In this short story, there are some managers who live dramas at work and personal life, and a consultant in charge of training.

Thus, through the consultant's explanations, company's everyday examples, and managers' personal life situations, the reader is introduced to the views defended by the author.

About the author Richard L. Williams

Richard L. Williams has a background in social/organizational psychology and communications, with a PhD in philosophy from Oxford University.

Williams is an internationally known business consultant. He has conducted more than 6, 000 workshops for over 250, 000 executives around the world.

He specializes in topics such as leadership development, performance coaching, quality, improvement process, diagnostic and organizational development.

To whom is this book indicated?

The book is especially recommended for managers because they constantly have to give and receive feedback to their subordinates.

However, the book itself emphasizes, with examples, that valid concepts, principles, and practices for the relationship between managers and subordinates. It also fits to any other form of relationship in personal life, with children, spouses and friends

Main ideas of the book "Tell Me How I'm Doing"

  • Feedbacks should seek to enhance desired behaviors and correct inappropriate behaviors;
  • Feedback is a nutrient for the mind, just as air, water, and food are nutrients for the body;
  • Feedback is crucial to build relationships with other people, whether in the workplace or in personal life;
  • The act of giving feedback to a person should be surrounded by some precautions, as detailed below so that they can have the expected effect;
  • Everyone needs feedback, but each case requires its own way of giving feedback;
  • There are different types of feedback. The positive and corrective act effectively in pursuit of the proposed objectives, while the insignificant are harmless and the offensive is devastating if misapplied;
  • To be successful in applying feedbacks, there is a gradual way to do so, from the most positive to the least positive approach.

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[Book Summary] Tell Me How I'm Doing - Richard L. Williams

Overview: Feedback is Essential

Reporting practical experience, the author shows that we, as humans, have a special need of interaction with the people around us.

When a person is completely ignored by others, because their principles don't matched, that is, without receiving any kind of feedback, they tend to feel initially disoriented and then completely demotivated.

Just as air, water, and food are essential nutrients for the physical body's survival, feedback is a nutrient for the mind.

This fact explains the lack of commitment shown by many employees in the daily lives of companies. By not receiving a satisfactory return from their superiors, the commitment to perform the tasks is affected by the lack of motivation.

Overview: The Basics of Feedback

Taking feedback as an object of analysis, Richard Williams have identified five basic principles:

  1. Any relationship, personal or professional, will always be a reflection of the quality and the amount of feedback that their stakeholders exchange with each other;
  2. Cordiality is a fundamental type of feedback, although many people find it commonplace and irrelevant (wishing a good day, for example);
  3. Eye contact is another fundamental type of feedback. Not maintaining eye contact with the caller is practically the same as ignoring them;
  4. Some people feel a greater need for feedback than others and need to be addressed in this regard. These are called "high maintenance people";
  5. Denying feedback to a person is a way of punishing them by imposing a kind of psychological punishment.

Overview: The Point of view of who gives the Feedback

Once its importance to the receiver was highlighted, the need for the practice of giving feedback becomes clear. However, Richard Williams says that there are ways and ways to do this, not always with positive results.

There are ten dimensions a manager must consider in order to give good feedback to their employees:

  1. Drawing up a plan: You have to plan what will be said, using objective examples and a clear definition of the ideal situation, while listening to what the subordinate has to say;
  2. Specific approach: The feedback giver must have full knowledge of the facts and situation addressed, with no room for assumptions;
  3. Focus on behaviors: No fit for prejudice or personality judgments, only considerations of facts that can be measured and analyzed;
  4. Choice of time and place: Feedback should occur in a low voltage environment. The best time is immediately after the fact and the place must be sufficiently reserved;
  5. Balance: To be given, a feedback should balance positive messages and corrective messages;
  6. Relevance: Feedback should be relevant, giving much more important to present facts than to past issues;
  7. Efficiency: Feedback needs to fulfill its purpose, and for that it is worth resorting to such things as getting to the point, focusing on what is essential, or working on eye contact;
  8. Effective style: This is about creating a personal approach style. Includes care such as giving advice only when requested;
  9. Description of feelings: The past message becomes more impactful when one can describe one's feelings about the fact addressed;
  10. Ability to listen: Through generic questions, people who receive feedback should be encouraged to speak up spontaneously.

A self-analysis of these ten dimensions allows a person to identify opportunities for improvement in their approaches.

Overview: The Point of view of whom receive the Feedback

Looking at the question from the point of view of who receives feedback, it is possible to identify the diametrically opposite effects that are produced when feedback is given correctly or not.

Everyone has a kind of inner repository, where they send all the feedback they receive on a daily basis. However, negative feedbacks cause this repository to be emptied, while positive feedbacks contribute to filling it.

It is as if positive returns are negated by negative ones, leaving people with the same emptiness caused by the lack of feedback. And they can come from anyone in our life, including ourselves.

Is it possible to detect the void of the feedback's absence?

The absence of constructive feedback may be apparent from some typical behaviors. Among the possible signs of deficiency in receiving feedbacks, we can mention:

  • Low level of performance in activities, reinforcing the relationship between feedback and motivation;
  • Difficulty in relationships with other people, confirming the principle that relationships reflect the intensity of feedback exchange;
  • Little initiative, due to the fact that the failure to receive feedback leads people to a more passive posture, to take orders, rather than more active behavior, to assume leadership roles;
  • Signs in one's body language, such as facial expressions, gestures, and postures, which can convey clear messages that something is not right.

How to correct the evils caused by the lack of feedback?

A person disoriented and unmotivated by the absence of positive feedbacks needs help. Some ways to do this are:

  • To stimulate their emotional maturity, using, for example, the knowledge developed by the study of emotional intelligence;
  • Provide quality feedback as a way of mitigating the effects of poorly transmitted feedback in the past. This includes measures such as praising and acknowledging positive actions and instituting the habit of celebrating achievements;
  • Delegate powers as a way of making people feel more involved in the environment.

Overview: The Feedback Types

Didactically, feedback can be classified into four possible categories, which are:

  1. Positive feedback: should be given when a particular behavior is to be repeated;
  2. Corrective feedback: is intended to talk about a change in behavior;
  3. Insignificant feedback: for lack of clarity in its purpose, it has no effect on those who receive it;
  4. Offensive feedback: This is only appropriate as a last resort when conditions need to be imposed in an attempt to change behavior. The problem is that many people immediately take offensive feedback before any other approach.

About positive feedback

Positive feedback is a powerful tool, however many people give insignificant feedback believing that are giving a positive one, meaning they expect the result equivalent to positive feedback.

Positive feedback requires some requirements, such as:

  • Clearly describe what behavior you want to see repeated;
  • Describe the consequences this behavior has;
  • Describe the satisfaction of seeing this behavior being adopted;
  • Describe why this satisfaction.

Although positive feedback is focused on a specific issue, an interesting side effect that is often observed is that the person starts to act positively in relation to other aspects that have nothing to do with the former.

There are, however, cases where positive feedback doesn't produce the expected effect. In this case, corrective feedback may be used.

About corrective feedback

The application of corrective feedback should follow a grading scale in terms of rigidity in the treatment of the problem.

  • First, before resorting to corrective feedback, the positive feedback approach is attempted;
  • In case of failure, the next step is to approach from carefully oriented questions that leads to understand the importance of correct a particular behavior;
  • In the face of a new failure, direct statements are made about what needs to be done;
  • The next step, considering the persistence of the problem, is the imposition of discipline;
  • Finally, there is still the ability to set a limit that, if exceeded, will have drastic consequences.

Overview: Feedback and Relationship Between People

Efficient feedback is a powerful form of communication, enabling people to understand each other. In turn, a mutual understanding between people generate respect and trust.

Conversely, bad feedbacks tend to end relationships between people, and it is up to those who send such feedbacks the role of rebuilding them.

Richard Williams suggests a three-step action as a way to rebuild relationships from feedbacks:

  1. First, we need to stop giving negative feedback by disrupting the demotivating message flow that massacres the affected person;
  2. The second step is to give positive feedback. At this stage, it is important that these feedbacks seek to value the person for what they are, not just for what they are capable of;
  3. The third step is to make a sincere apology for the damages your negative feedbacks have caused, thus taking the initiative for a fresh start.

Overview: Professional and Personal Feedback

In parallel to presenting the importance of feedback in the professional environment, the book "Tell Me How I'm Doing" builds a parallel plot that involves the application of feedbacks in personal relationships.

Richard Williams suggests that the same difficulties that a person presents regarding feedback in the professional environment will be experienced in the family environment. As a result, overcoming work techniques will also be appropriate at home.

In addition, by achieving more harmony in personal relationships outside the workplace, a professional also becomes more productive within the workplace. It is the side effect of feedbacks, already commented.

What do other authors say about it?

In the book "Scaling Up", the author Verne Harnish gives some tips for the pursuit of continuous improvements, such as:

  • Employee feedback should be constantly collected to identify obstacles and opportunities for improvement;
  • The pace of communication must be well established, making the flow of information within the organization fast and accurate.

For Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton, authors of the "Now, Discover Your Strengths", to increase company productivity, the key is to focus on employees' strengths rather than trying to improve weaknesses.

Finally, in "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team", the author Patrick Lencioni states that a lack of trust in a team makes it difficult to share individual weaknesses and vulnerabilities, which compromises the effective development of the group.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

  • Considering the ten dimensions described here for giving feedback, evaluate what are your strengths and which needs to be improved by focusing your action on this last group;
  • Also adopt the gradual scale of feedback application, as presented, always starting from the most positive approach;
  • Evaluate your relationships, personal and professional, identifying if there is any deficiency in the exchange of feedbacks;
  • For difficult relationships, consider whether they may stem from your feedback stance. If so, consider applying the three steps to correction (ceasing negative feedbacks, generating positive feedbacks, and apologizing/dialogizing).

Did you like this summary of the book "Tell Me How I'm Doing"?

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Book 'Tell Me How I'm Doing'