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Giving Effective Feedback with Matt Tenney

George Grombacher November 10, 2022

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Giving Effective Feedback with Matt Tenney

LifeBlood: We talked about giving effective feedback, why little actions make big differences, a four-step process for becoming a more effective supervisor and leader, and how to get started, with Matt Tenney, Speaker, Consultant and Author. 

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Matt Tenney

Episode Transcript

Unknown Speaker 0:15
look for this is George G. And the time is right, welcome today’s guest strong and powerful Matt Tenny. Matt, are you ready to do this? Let’s go. Let’s go man is working to develop highly effective leaders who serve and inspire greatness. In others, he is the author of serve to be great. And the mindfulness edge is a professional speaker and consultant. Matt, tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work and why you do what you do.

Unknown Speaker 0:41
Well, my personal life and my work, I think, are deeply intertwined. Because what I endeavor to do is, Inspire, Inspire the great and help people to inspire greatness and others to be people who are finding happy, true happiness by being of service to others. And I try to apply that in my personal life as well as in my professional life. And the kind of the why is, you know, I realized some years ago that

Unknown Speaker 1:08
if we want to create a world in which people are going home happy every day, they’re treating each other with kindness every day. It seems like the workplace has a lot to do with that. It’s,

Unknown Speaker 1:20
you know, it’s it’s kind of born out of my practice of mindfulness and, and I trained as a monk for a while, where ever since I kind of took on the monastic ideal, my life aspiration is to create a world do whatever I can, to create a world where people are happier, and they’re more kind to each other. And as I got into the kind of professional world, I realized that wow, if we can, if we can help businesses do this, create workplace cultures, where people are thriving, where they’re flourishing. As human beings, it’s not only really good for business, it’s really good for our planet. So my Y is pretty simple. I envision a world where all organizations and the leaders in those organizations are making a positive impact consistently, on both the wellbeing and the growth of their team members.

Unknown Speaker 2:06
I love it.

Unknown Speaker 2:08
You know, a lot of the time I think that when I say and it’s, it’s it sounds kind of trite, that be the change that you want to see in the world.

Unknown Speaker 2:18
But it’s the truest thing, if we all just did what you described, the world would, in fact, be a far better place. I couldn’t, couldn’t agree more. You know, it’s, it’s one thing, you know, as I get invited to speak at conferences quite often as a keynote speaker, and it’s one thing to get up and, and say something on a stage, you know, and remind people of the importance of helping people to be great, helping them to be happy, great human beings who do great work and are thriving. It’s another thing to treat every single person that you interact with along the way to the destination, that you’re serving that to the event, you know, the people taking out the trash, people waiting your your table, the busboy or girl, to consistently treat those people as though they’re the most important person you’re going to interact with. To me, that’s more important actually. Because to me, if I get up on a stage, and I, and I inspired her do my best to inspire people to take really good care of their team members. But I treat one person in a way that doesn’t show them deep dignity and respect.

Unknown Speaker 3:28
I feel like I failed. Now, I do fail sometimes, you know, I can always get better. But I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s more important, in my view, to every day in our personal interactions with the people around us to always approach the interaction with what can I do to add value in this person’s life? What can I do to help them just be a little bit happier or be a little bit more successful?

Unknown Speaker 3:51
And as it as it turns out, it’s also very good for business, particularly sales and leadership. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 3:57
Certainly, my perception is that many of us and myself included, are on the razor’s edge right now, you know, we all have, we’re all pulled in so many different directions. And we’re experiencing frustration by what we’re seeing in the world, one way or another.

Unknown Speaker 4:14
And to recognize that other people are also going through their own private challenges and wars every day, the more that we can do what you’ve described, I think, certainly the better. Did you get to the point in your monk training where you got to wear the robes, man, I never, I never ordained I lived in kind of an extreme kind of personal monastery that created my for myself for a while and then I went to train in a monastery for about three months and I was almost going to ordained for the rest of my life. But it ended up deciding I could make more of an impact out here in the quote unquote real world and of being a monk and a monk amongst everybody else doing their thing or in a job haven’t earning a living having a family, that type of thing. Yeah. So

Unknown Speaker 5:00
working with organizations,

Unknown Speaker 5:04
because you could probably deliver your message to individuals, what what, what is it about about the companies that that makes sense?

Unknown Speaker 5:15
I’m not sure it can you elaborate on that question a little bit? Well,

Unknown Speaker 5:20
I could, you probably could just be directing. Here, here’s how you can be a better leader in your life as an individual. But the impact that you can have working with organizations and their leadership team, from the CEO to probably the different levels of an organization, why did you choose to, to go that way? Oh, just because of leverage and impact. You know, if I, if I work with one person at a time,

Unknown Speaker 5:46
from, from the grand scheme of things in the, in the huge view, you know, kind of the spiritual view, so to speak, that’s extremely important.

Unknown Speaker 5:54
However, there’s also there’s a lot of problems that we see in our world. And I think if we want to create change, kind of on the conventional level, in a practical level,

Unknown Speaker 6:05
we it’s very important, in my view, to find what’s the most leverage activities that we can engage in, where we can make the most impact with the least amount of,

Unknown Speaker 6:14
of our time, because time is the is really the only resource we have that has, it has a discrete limit on it. Like everything else you can create, you can create more money easily, you can create more friends, you can almost anything you can do time, you can’t. So it’s just a simple matter of leverage, you know, if I can work, you know, with an organization that has 510 1000 employees, and help their leadership team develop habits, that consistently drive high levels of engagement, and retention and performance, while at the same time making a positive impact on the well being and the growth of those human beings. That’s scalable, right, that means there could be 5000 people that are benefiting from the same amount of effort that I would put in to work with one or two individuals at a time. And of course, solving a painful problem for a business by helping them to reduce turnover to increase employee engagement, to create a sustainable, high performance culture, then it’s scalable, you know, people are willing to invest in a solution like that. So that just means that we can create even more impact.

Unknown Speaker 7:20
I love it.

Unknown Speaker 7:22
So the numbers around engagement are pretty, pretty awful. And there’s so few of us that are really, really fully engaged in our work, and many of us are disengaged in our work. What are some of these habits that that that that you’re working to help instill? Well, the first we created a kind of process, we’ve made a process out of how to lead in a way that is going to drive engagement, and retention and sustainable high performance. And it’s, it’s simple, it’s four steps. And the first step in this process is that we often forget what our job is, as a leader. And I and I’m this is regardless of necessarily whether you have a leadership title officially. But if you have a leadership title, officially, we forget that our job is not to execute on tasks anymore, we are no longer individual contributors. Our primary role, if we take on a leadership position, is to inspire greatness in our teams. It’s that simple. Now, I say that and we say, well done every everybody knows that, right? Well, I don’t know. You know, I think a lot of people, when they get promoted as junior people, they get promoted, because they’re really good at their jobs, right. And they get into a leadership role. And they think, Well, this is how I’m gonna lead, I’m just gonna be really good at my job. If people don’t do their jobs, well just jump in and help them. They don’t know, or they haven’t been trained to realize that no, you don’t have to do that anymore. You may have individual contributor tasks still on your to do list, but your primary job is to is to build a team of individuals who can be great by themselves and to work great as a team. It’s a synergistic effect. You know, if you build this team that works together and does great things, that’s how you’re successful as a leader. So if we understand that everybody gets this, right, it’s not, it’s not rocket science. But we do forget, so either junior people may not know, those of us who are in senior leadership positions we often forget, right? Because as you said, we’re all on the razor’s edge, we’ve got tons of pressure to hit goals, hit numbers, and we’re kind of wired to think that executing on task is the way out. And I’m not saying that executing on tasks isn’t important. But what I often suggest to people is, look, just rewrite your job description as this first step, your primary job, whatever is in your current job description, as a leader, just print that up and write additional responsibilities at the top of it. All right. Your real job as a leader is simply this My job is to inspire greatness in my team, by serving as a coach who helps people to be happy, great human beings who do great work. And if you start with that fundamental principle, you know, it’s kind of like the engineers I think, call it first principles approach.

Unknown Speaker 10:00
Two things. If you start with this, if we agree on this first principle, then a process naturally flows from that. Well, how do you inspire greatness and people does? Is that some lofty thing that only a natural born leader can do? No, there’s a process to it. What’s the first thing you would do? If you know that your job is to inspire greatness in people? Well, you find out what do people need to be great? What do they need to thrive? Right? And what’s getting in their way? So those are the first two steps, right? Just remind yourself what your job is. And that flows naturally into how do we how do we figure out what people need to thrive and what’s getting in their way? There’s good news on that front, we’ve got decades of research telling us exactly what people need. There are 14 Universal needs that you don’t have to go reinvent the wheel. These are things that we know people need, and they’re strongly correlated with engagement and retention, simple things like Do people have the tools to do their job? Do they have clear performance expectations? Do they feel appreciated? The most important one, by far, and gallops Research demonstrates this? Clearly, they’ve written about it in many places. The strongest predictor of engagement retention is does the supervisor truly care about the team member about that individual contributor, when the leader truly cares? That is the fundamental approach to all of this?

Unknown Speaker 11:21
What a crazy disconnect. That is, right. If Gallup’s number one thing is the person, your supervisor, your manager, does this person care about me? And that we forget, because it’s super human, that my job as a supervisor, is to help this person have a great experience and have a great life?

Unknown Speaker 11:45
Absolutely, and it’s not that there’s anything wrong with us, just been conditioned our whole lives to think that winning hitting numbers, achieving goals is the most important thing. And we’re, we’re continually under pressure to to do those things. Right. And so it’s, it’s very easy to forget, I mean, I’ve heard well intentioned good leaders say things like, I have to take time away from my job to coach my team members. And I just think, no, coaching team members is your job, or leader. But and these are people who do care. It’s just that’s how powerful this conditioning is. We subconsciously believe that our job is to execute things on our to do list and hit numbers. And if that’s what we believe, that’s going to reflect in our behaviors and our habits. So I think that’s why that’s the first step is we’ve got to undo that conditioning continually remind ourselves, our primary job as leaders is to inspire greatness in our teams by serving as a coach, then once you start identifying these universal needs,

Unknown Speaker 12:42
now you have to do is just figure out well, how will you meeting these needs? Get regular feedback from team members on? Do you feel appreciated? Do you feel like I care about you. And this is where surveys can be very helpful, right? Where you get some some type of anonymous feedback from team members on how well you’re doing as a leader. The problem is, the way most surveys are done, actually do more harm than good, because we tend to do these really large annual surveys. And you get all these things that you think you’d have to work on. And then it takes a long time to figure out a plan for well, how are we going to address all these issues? It takes a long time to gather all the data, and then come up with that plan. So there’s this time gap where people are thinking, why did you waste my time with this big survey if you’re not going to do anything about it? So what we recommend is you do very short surveys, just asking about 14 Universal needs at a time and then need to have a training place or a plan in place for how are you going to respond? How are you going to show your team members, hey, this is what I’m going to do to get better at meeting this need. Let’s just take appreciation for example. You know, ideally, you should never send a survey out unless you already have a plan for how you’re going to address it, or a training better yet, if you’re scaling this to an organization this is what we do is you have a five minute training video that as soon as that manager gets their feedback, they get a quick five minute training on here’s a simple new habit you can develop to more frequently show appreciation. So now, you know A survey is only open for two days, managers can watch this video in five minutes, it takes them five minutes to create a new habit. And then they email their team saying hey, thank you for that feedback. Here’s what I plan on doing better. Here’s what I plan to continue to grow in this area. And all of a sudden it just that shows that you care about people right they feel heard. They feel they see that you’re doing something. Research from Gallup has found that employee engagement is nearly three times higher. In organizations where team members respond with strongly agree to the following statement. My organization acts upon the results of surveys that complete just that will drive engagement and retention. That alone shows people that you care and builds trust. So even if your habit new habit isn’t perfect, but you’re doing something good

Unknown Speaker 15:00
That’s way more than what’s happening in most cases. I’m sure that we’ve all experienced that. You know, and as I say that, perhaps somebody who’s listening that’s never been in a management kind of a role maybe hasn’t, but I know that I 100% have. And when I ask for somebody’s feedback, and I don’t do anything with it, like, great, thanks. What, what a waste of time for everybody. And that’s going to lead to more frustration versus the simple action that you’ve just laid out has such a huge difference. So super powerful.

Unknown Speaker 15:37
Thank you. Yeah, I think that’s really the key is this kind of virtuous cycle of employees giving feedback on how well we’re meeting their needs as leaders, then they feel heard, they get some type of response, hey, thank you for that feedback, here’s what we’re going to do. And then they actually see something happening. Every time that little virtuous cycle happens. I say little, because it’s not it’s not a complex thing. It’s simple to execute. But it has huge impact. And every time that virtuous cycle happens, trust is building and leadership team confidence grows in the leadership team, and people feel like they cared about. And the most important thing is, this is the this is the best way to learn. Right? You know, if you’re trying to learn something new, let’s just take I was talking with somebody yesterday about swimming, for instance, you know, let’s say that you want to learn how to swim. And I say, all right, George, here’s what we’re gonna do, I want you to, I want you to put your face in the water blow bubbles, I want you to relax, I want you to kick and I want you to start going with a stroke, just like this is your first time in the pool, right? And I throw you in the deep end. And I say, Okay, go do it. I mean, you might drown, and be freaking out. But what if I just said, Hey, George, let’s, the first step to swimming is feeling comfortable in the water. So I want you to do is just come hang out with me in the short in the shallow end. And what we’re going to do is I just want you to put your face in the water, and blow bubbles for five seconds and just relax. Just just relax your body blowing out bubbles for five seconds. That’s the first step right. So I just give you a little bit of information, and then let you play with it for five or 10 minutes until you really feel comfortable with that, then we do something else. And this is where I think you can make a huge impact in terms of the effectiveness of training leaders is what we tend to do is we do a lot of information a half day or a full day of training with very little follow up. So it’s now you’ve got all this information, but not a whole lot of plan for how you’re going to turn information into behaviors and then into habits that stick. So we recommend is instead of delivering a lot of information at once deliver a little bit of information just like hey, put your face in the water blow bubbles. Try that out for five or 10 minutes. That’s I mean, let me know how that feels. So same thing like, hey, try this one new habit for showing appreciation more frequently. Five minutes of information, super powerful habit that’s highly, highly leveraged. You give people two weeks to play with that. And then you say, All right, here’s here’s another training, here’s how to take that new habit of showing appreciation more frequently and make it more impactful. Why don’t you go play with that for two weeks, you know, and get feedback from your team and iterate and make it yours. And little by little you develop. You take information at little chunks into behaviors that are repeatable and then become habits that stick and that’s where you get lasting transformation.

Unknown Speaker 18:25
I love it that makes so much sense. Thought the experience of going to like a week long conference and getting this massive binder just full of notes. But then taking that binder full of notes and put it on a shelf and never looking at it again. Yeah, well, it’s not to say that there’s not value in those things, right. Sometimes a thought you get at a conference or a Keynote or a full day of training, just one thought can change everything. The problem is, because we’re all so busy, if we don’t have a really structured way of taking that information and turning it into behaviors and then into habits, turning them into habits that stick. There’s not as much value. So I think that’s the key if you are going to do a big, you know, Keynote or a full day of training, which there’s there can be lots of value there. Also think about what’s your follow up plan? How are you going to take that information? And this is, I’m not talking about you as the listener necessarily, although you could certainly do that. I’m talking about the people who are putting on the training, like if you’re going to invest in a full day of training, you know, if you’re gonna hire someone to come in and do leadership training for half day or full day, we’ll say what’s our plan for, you know, every couple of weeks, following up with this, giving them little bits of reminders to turn this information into into behaviors and habits to stick. Got to make it real that

Unknown Speaker 19:36
we met. Thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? And for companies that are interested or individuals who are interested? How can they engage? Easy I mean, I’m pretty Google Maps is the website. If you if you’re a listener who is in an organization that likes the process that I laid out, will actually help you set that up internally for free. So we built a system that has all

Unknown Speaker 20:00
All of the surveys all of the training videos already recorded, and will give you all the questions we asked will give you the outlines of all of our videos. So you can build this in house. If you want to do that, I think we’ll probably we could probably put a link in the show notes for that. But it’s mat forward slash engagement, dash and dash retention and help so just match engagement and retention help. And there’s a free training there to kind of goes over the process and then an opportunity to get on a call and we’ll help you figure out how to set it up internally in your own organization. Love it.

Unknown Speaker 20:35
If you enjoyed this as much as I did submit your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciate good ideas go to Matt ma TT and check out the great resources we will link put a link in the in the notes of the show for what Matt just described. So it’s easy to find and take advantage of the great resources and they offer Thanksgiving. Thank you George and pleasure. And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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