What do you want to hear?

I think I might be on the cusp of the next great employee feedback mechanism for leadership.  I’ve been thinking about this concept for a long while. You see, for years I’ve had the opportunity to test out my various theories on employee feedback.  I’ve watched my own feedback theories change over the years, but they always were grounded in people truly want feedback about their performance.

That is mostly true.  People do want feedback about their performance.

Here is what also is true:

1. People want feedback about what they’ve done well.

2. People don’t want critical feedback. Someone asking you for critical feedback is really just testing you to see if you are either:

 1. Upset with them for how bad they did

2. Just seeing if you have the guts to them how bad they did

3. People really just want you to tell everyone else how great you think they are.

I think a better, more effective, way of delivering feedback to employees should start with this one question:

“What do you want to hear about your performance?”

At this point the employee will say stuff like, “I just want to hear how well I did”, or “Tell me that you appreciated my work”, or “Tell me I’m the best employee you have”.  This will then drive the conversation appropriately and keep everyone fully engaged.  “Alright, Timmy, you are doing really well. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everything you do. You are the best employee I have.”

Timmy leaves feeling great and satisfied.  You don’t have to deal with someone losing their mind about how they are really performing. Everyone goes back to work with minimal disruption.

Yeah, I know what you really wanted to say was, “Timmy, you can do better. While I appreciate the work you do, I wish you would actually do more of it. You are like most employees hear, nothing special, but you could be.”

How does that conversation end?  Timmy is pissed. He creates a scene.  He usually ends up disrupting the work environment and kills productivity. He might even go out and find another job with someone else.

Is that what you wanted? Probably not.

So, make it easier on yourself.  Just remember to start every feedback conversation out with that one question: What do you want to hear?  They’ll tell you. They’ll be happier. You’ll be happier. Everyone can get back to work.

Feedback is is the leadership sucker test.  No one really wants to hear what you think about them.

11 Rules for Hugging at Work + 2 more

It’s the holidays, so I’m running some “Best of” posts from the past. This is my all-time most read post. Enjoy. I had 2 more rules just for you!

Hello. My name is Tim Sackett, and I’m a hugger.   Being a hugger can make for some awkward moments – what if the other person isn’t expecting a, or doesn’t want to, hug and you’re coming in arms-wide-open!?

Fast Company has an article recently titled: To Hug Or Not To Hug At Work? by Drake Baer, that delved into this subject.  Here’s a piece from the article:

“the uncomfortable feeling you get when you realize that your concept of your relationship with someone else doesn’t match their concept. The intensity of awkwardness roughly corresponds to the magnitude of difference in relationship concepts.”

I consider myself to have a number of roles: Husband, Dad, Coach, Boss, Friend, Coworker, etc.  In each of those roles I’ve hugged and will continue to hug.  Sometimes, though rarely, I’ll find someone who isn’t a hugger.  The first time I ever met Kris Dunn face-to-face, we’ve had known each other and talked frequently by phone for a year, at the HR Tech Conference – he was coming out of a session, I recognized him, he recognized me, and I went full ‘bro-hug’ (sideways handshake, other arm hug-back slap combo) on him, and I’m pretty sure he was caught off guard – but played along.  Kris is a closet hugger.  I find Southern folks are huggers, more than Northern.  Western more than Eastern.  Canadians more than Americans.  Men feel much more comfortable hugging women than other men. Women will hug anything.

I thought it was about time we had some hugging rules for the office, so here goes:

The Hugging Rules

1. Don’t Hug those you supervise. (The caveats: You can hug a subordinate if: it’s being supportive in a non-creepy way (major family or personal loss – sideways, kind of arm around the shoulder, you care about them hug);  it’s at a wedding and you are congratulating them; it’s a hug for a professional win (promotion, giant sale, big project completion, etc.) and it’s with a group, not alone in your office with the lights off; you would feel comfortable with your spouse standing next you and watching that specific hug.)

2. Hug your external customers or clients when they initiate hugging sequence.  (The caveats: Don’t hug if: it is required to get business – that’s not hugging, that harassment. Don’t let hug last more than a second or two, or it gets creepy; Don’t mention the hug afterwards, that makes you seem creepy!)

3. Don’t Hug the office person you’re having an affair with in the office.  (no explanation needed)

4. Hug peers, not just every day. (It’s alright to hug, but you don’t need to do it everyday for people you see everyday. Save some up and make it special!)

5. When you Hug, hug for real. (Nothing worse than the ‘fake hug’!  A fake hug is worse than a non-Hug.)

6. Don’t whisper – ‘You smell good’ – when hugging someone professionally. (That’s creepy – in fact don’t whisper anything while hugging!)

7. Don’t close your eyes while hugging professionally.  (That’s weird and a bit stalkerish)

8.  It is alright to announce a Hug is coming. (Some people will appreciate a – ‘Hey! Come here I’m giving you a hug – it’s been a long time!’)

9. It’s never alright to Hug from behind.  (Creepier!)

10.  Never Hug in the restroom. (Make for awkward moment when other employees walk in and see that.)

11.  If you’re questioning yourself whether it will be alright to Hug someone professionally – that is your cue that it probably isn’t.

The New Rules:

12. Don’t pat my back when you Hug me.  It makes me feel like you’re trying to burp me. I know this somehow makes you feel like people will view this as a non-affectionate hug, but it makes me feel like you feel it’s a non-affectionate hug. Just hug, or don’t hug.

13. Don’t assume you can Hug a co-workers kids (or any kid for that manner!), but if the kid tries to Hug you, you better Hug back.  My team has their kids come in all the time. I love kids. I’ll Hug their kids. But I’ll wait for the kid or the parent to give me that cue. I usually start with a ‘Hi-Five’ and some kids will just come in for the real thing! Parents are super protective of their kids. If you just start hugging on them, that can get real creepy, real fast!

 Do you have any hugging rules for the office?

How to Kill a Hiring Manager and Get Away With It!

My wife and I just finished watching the entire series of Breaking Bad!  All five seasons, sometimes we went three episodes deep in a night. It was tough, but we persevered. You’re welcome!

This really isn’t a Breaking Bad series post, I promise. If you haven’t seen the series, I thought it was worth it. Something funny happens to you when you watch so much darkness in such a short time.  I will warn you about that.  You begin to feel like it’s somewhat normal. Like somehow I could actually get away with the stuff Walt is doing on TV!

That leads me to how you can kill a hiring manager and get away with it!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard recruiters say, “Ugh! I hate my hiring managers! I wish I could shoot them!” Or, something to that effect.

Next to candidates who bomb or don’t show up for interviews, Hiring Managers have to be in every recruiters Top 3 worst things they have to deal with.  “Of course, it isn’t every hiring manager”, we say out loud, so the ones that are listening think they’re still awesome, when they really suck.  “There’s only a few hiring managers that can be difficult to deal with”, we say out loud again, like it really is going to matter.

I’m guessing there must be some law about posting something on a blog about instructions on how to kill a hiring manager and get away with it.  I don’t remember reading anything from WordPress when they allowed me to sign up this blog.  You would think that would be bolded in the instruction: “HEY! Don’t write sh*t about killing hiring managers! Or you could be put in jail!” 

I better be strategic about how I word this.

Well, after watching 62 straight episodes of Breaking Bad, apparently it’s fairly easy to dissolve a body in a big 50 gallon drum with some acid.  In the show, they always wore protective gear, like rubber suits and gloves.  They also had the equipment to pick up and transport said 50 gallon drums of disgusting liquid. As you can imagine this takes care of the not getting caught part.

Here are a few ideas, for entertainment purposes only, on how you might kill a hiring manager, but of course ‘we’ never would:

1. Disgruntled Crazy Candidate.  We actually protect our hiring managers so many times they don’t even know it!  We know the crazies, but we filter them out.  Not this time! This time not only do we pass them along, but we let the Crazy Candidate in on a little feedback, “Yeah, the hiring manager hated you, and thinks you’re crazy, and here is her address…”

2. Strange White Powder on the Resume. You hear about this stuff all the time with crazies sending stuff to politicians.  I’m sure it works the same for hiring managers! But you put yourself in jeopardy as well. But, if you’ve read this far, my guess is you’re on the edge already, once one more step!

3. Nut Allergies. Hiring managers love conference room cookies!  This time all you need to do is make a special batch of your Chocolate Chip “Surprise” cookies, but don’t call them “surprise”, they’ll feel the surprise!

My guess is I’ll get at least 3 ‘unsubscribe’ emails after this goes live.  That’s always a good measurement of success as a blogger.  How many people did you alienate today?

Happy hiring folks!

P.S. – if this is the FBI or any other law enforcement agency reading this, I’m joking, this is a joke, I love my hiring managers. Well, most of them.