I have written about efficiency (here and here
Clarity of tasks
The flow of information
Established and clear procedures
Accountability and trust
Decree 402, the boss drinks and so do you!
How many times have you heard that?
Well, I’ve had my shares and still take it personally. Because, you know what?!, your work is personal, too! Efforts, results, time, attention, skills, all of this is you and yours. You put you into everything.
Is there a time to provide feedback?
Yes, by all means, yes. There’s a time and a place.
Feedback should be given in a meeting, whether online or face-to-face (and not in front of the entire team, if it’s negative). This provides space for both parties to explain their points of view, but more importantly, this is how an actual exchange of thoughts regarding the points of view can be made. If feedback is seen just a one-way street (only from manager to employee) then this is not a healthy work relationship.
Managers might be trapped into thinking that with the job title they are bestowed absolute correctness, but managers are humans too and thus subject to error. A discussion is the perfect space to get things cleared up and expectations right in the open.
If you can help it, don’t provide feedback by email. An employee should feel encouraged to ask questions and usually an email is never a space to clarify things. People would get defensive or hurt and they would not show acceptance of the other party’s point of view.
Better to gather all feedback and talk about it during a meeting. This shows care and respect.
Of course, time is a scarce resource so if you are a manager with a large team is hard to set feedback meetings with each member of the team, but you can make sure that this is a constant point on your agenda for the 1x1 monthly meeting.
Feedback by email should be provided only if a person can make sure to put it in simple and clear terms. Otherwise, it could turn into an exchange of emails (or WhatsApp emails) that only makes the parties lose time, energy, and leaves them frustrated.
If it’s positive feedback, then let nothing stop you (timewise or place-wise)! There is no limit for this as we all love to hear positive feedback, anytime. Unfortunately, this does not happen so often. Have you noticed how we insist on noticing or highlighting the bad instead of the good?!
Sure, human nature has an explanation for it. It’s not the good that keeps us safe from danger. But maybe we should change this. Millions of years ago, our brains started focusing on the negative because that was all that we needed in order to survive. But not anymore. Even though the stress endured by some employees can be compared with being chased by wild animals while holding a frail stick.
Have you noticed that in ‘The where’ I only referred to negative feedback?! I haven’t. Until I started writing about the positive here. See, this is what our brains do. Take a moment to ponder upon that, please.
If you are giving negative feedback – by meeting or by email – please do not provide it on a Friday afternoon! Coming back to the beginning of this article, people take feedback personally. Do you want to ruin their weekends, or do you want a long-term relationship based on trust and support? Even if an employee is an aikido disciple and has read The Art of Peace, they would still be troubled by the feedback.
We talk a lot about caring for employees with mindfulness courses, we talk about equality and diversion and inclusion, but a lot is ignored. A mindfulness course won’t save an employee from burnout or demotivation as long as an organization does not call out on unacceptable behaviors.
Respecting the time for rest (whether the weekends or the rest of the time after the workday is done) – which is something that the French have already embraced with the legal right to switch off from work and employees no longer receive emails or phone calls after the typical work hours – is an important thing. But it’s not enough to make sure people do not stay overtime, other things should also be considered. One of them is showing care and interest on how one provides feedback. Sure, it’s not easy; doing the good thing never is. But if you want to foster a supportive environment and if you care for the mental wellbeing of your team, consider how you provide feedback and support that manner not only if you are a manager who provides feedback to the employees, but also if you are an executant and you give feedback to your peers.
Only talking about this idea of healthy organizations won’t change a thing. We must really consider the do’s and don’ts and take act.
Viorel Ilisoi artfully writes about his heroes. There is care and consideration in his words that seem to blossom from the story and carve the margins. For it seems to me that the stories he tells were already alive before he started telling them and they just needed attire made from Ilisoi’s words to gain a shape we could easily recognize.
I was deeply touched and gladden by his stories. There is such beauty in this rarely seen human kindness!
The serious, severe, impenetrable professor suddenly becomes quiet, like a broken clock, and his eyes, like a piece of living glass steamed by the whiteness of old age, start to moisten. He keeps quiet for a long time, yet all his thoughts can be heard.
One doesn’t have to reach burn-out status to start taking the necessary measures. To my mind, a healthy organization is one that regularly performs a due diligence check and makes sure that it has among its staff responsible managers, who are oriented not only towards results but also towards their people and who understand that they must not ruin the emotional stability and personal time of employees.
I know of companies that have dedicated internal teams to tackle ethics and professional complaints received from employees, but I must confess that they seem to rather put up a facade. They clean here and there but they never seem to get to the core of the problem. It is this approach that made me sick about joining the never-ending workshops about the values of an organization. When those presenting the values are the same as those that like to make a spectacle of the way they dribble the rules and principles in their favor because they are managers, what trust can a simple employee have in the fact that an organization really respects and understands its values?
In a nutshell, a company cannot expect honesty from its people if it shows them falsity.
Is there a connection between a company’s principles or values and discipline? Yes, there is. And when procedures are clear or updated constantly to reflect the work methods, employees will have a different employee experience, a better one, and they would be less stressed concerning the surprise element that can disturb an entire project.
It’s true, I was lucky to be guided by people who taught me the importance of self-discipline. Dad, for example, is the one that taught me how important it is to put an item back to its place, so that when one searches for it, one doesn’t turn the house upside down searching for it, and one can go with one’s eyes closed and reach it.
Recently, while talking about meetings, I realized that I have developed my way of being straight to the point and concise while I was part of a wonderful marketing team, a while back. When I learnt that a new regular weekly meeting with the extended team was to be scheduled to have a clearer perspective of all projects, I rolled my eyes in despair. This was also because I had just come out of a meeting that took place once every two weeks, and which instead of 40 minutes lasted two hours and a half. But the new meeting was not at all a waste of time and rarely did we exceed the given time, and if that happened it was only for five or ten minutes. Every participant was encouraged to give their updates in a concise manner and then we would go to the next one; and if someone needed help, they would receive at least some indications.
What Is to Be Done
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of discipline is clarity. If things are not clear, one cannot organize oneself. Below, I have gathered all items I believe must be considered in order to improve self-discipline.
A first step in becoming more disciplined is to make the necessary cleaning – to find out about priorities and get a clear idea about what the goal is. Nevertheless, cleaning your desk or desktop could change your perspective, too.
I was mistaken to believe that my role as an executant would be just to deliver, and not to waste the manager’s time with too many questions. But more often than not, one gains more from asking the necessary questions. What seems like lost time for clarifying work tasks could become priceless during or at the delivery of the project. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Managers that are responsible and that wish for the project to go as planned (I learnt from my experience that there are those who do not want for the project to continue, but they do not share that information and instead they ask you to continuously rework the project, to remake PPT slides, change the colors from visuals, change the colors of the cells of Excel files, etc… because imagination has no limits when some are determined to waste your time) understand that things must be clarified in order for the task to be correctly delivered, but also that you are dedicated and want to understand all important aspects.
Experience can help one become proactive and have one prepare questions beforehand.
When asking questions, make sure you remain focused on the information you need to receive. Some, unintentionally, cannot help but divagate when asked something. Yet others are aware of it and are willingly doing it because they do not know the answer and are trying to buy time. One must always remain focused on the purpose of one’s question and insist on receiving the answer. Responsible managers will admit when they do not know the answer and will come back with it as soon as they receive the information because they understand that that information is crucial for you to deliver the task/ the project.
Learn from mistakes
Immediately after delivering a task, try to analyze it and find errors, omissions, or maybe information that you did not have or persons that you did not include (sometimes, it is hard to ask for help but fortunately for all of us there are people who will gladly support you and on which you can rely on – long may you live, helpers! You know very well who you are.).
Make a plan
It does not have to be an elaborate plan, but one that contains the main actions (so that it’s easier for you to know the status, and if delays happen you can work on rearranging priorities) will help you very much.
Whether we talk about things or people (from which we need to receive information) that can ruin the delivery of your project, it’s good to always check your plan and anticipate where issues may happen.
I make use of two types of documenting. The first one is about the present, and the second one is about the future.
About the present
If delays or changes appear regarding the initial elements, take notes of the actual situation, together with the new date when you should deliver something (here are some indications on how to be more organized).
For the future
If things turned out as planned, take notes for the future so that you know the steps you followed (especially, if it’s a recurrent project). If something went wrong, do take notes (regardless of whether you are going to work again on that project or a similar one; it can happen that this information could be helpful for another type of project – in a nutshell, this is where you learn from your mistakes.
Like any habit, discipline cannot be learned in a heartbeat. Take things one step at a time, preferably the ones I presented above, and following constant efforts you will notice the advantages.