You must give the class a closed book final assessment of the training class, however, in the real world they can look up the answer.  Does this make sense?  Maybe or Maybe not.  Sometimes how you frame the outcome can make all the difference in the world.

Today I had the opportunity to give someone another chance based on the outcome of their final assessment from a training class and it got me thinking about how to give feedback and vet this situation out in a respectful way.

I knew this person was smart and I knew they were struggling with portions of the class and were well outside their comfort zone. After the final assessment was failed, I pulled this person aside to chat.

I know that people learn and retain information in different ways.  I wanted to give the testee the opportunity to answer the questions orally, in case test anxiety was the issue.  I made it conversational and it sparked a discussion of how the role was not really “what I signed up for”.  Yes, the role had changed, but the individual had not.  Did that make them a bad employee?  Did that make them less smart? NO!

As we discussed the situation further, I asked “Do you want to do this job?”  The answer was not really, and when we got to the root, we were able to move forward and find solutions.  It was a productive and honest discussion and it got me thinking about giving tips on sharing feedback and getting to the root cause.  Here are my philosophies and rules of the road.

1) No matter what you think of someone, they deserve respect. Be sure to focus on behavior or results and not the person.

2) Set the stage quickly, do not make people wait to hear feedback.  That is not being respectful.

3) Plan for the discussion ahead of time.  Plan for what you will say, but also be ready for possible responses. This will help you steer away from emotion and focus on facts.  Facts are what keep difficult conversations from getting personal.

4) Ask questions and listen to the answers.  Remember that constructive feedback should be building a person up and making them even better.

5) Be prepared to receive feedback in an open way.  If you are going to give it, you should be prepared to get it back.

Giving feedback the right way can keep even the worst situations from escalating and most of the time things will end on a positive note.

Just my two cents….Go forth and lead.

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