Archive for the ‘Front Line Managers’ Category

Welcoming the Gift of Feedback

November 20, 2020

FountainBlue’s November 6 Front Line Managers’ Online meeting was on the topic of ‘Welcoming the Gift of Feedback’. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. 

  • The Gift of Feedback – Maranda Dziekonski, Swiftly
  • Explain the Why – Maranda Dziekonski, Swiftly
  • The Customer as King – Kavita Shah, Nova
  • Performance Review Feedback – Colm Lysaght, Micron
  • Facilitating Awkward Feedback Conversations – Thenu Kittappa, Nutanix
  • Best Practice for Providing Feedback as a Gift – All

Below are notes from the discussion. Our panelists agree that Feedback is not a choice, but a reality, a natural part of learning and growing. In fact, you should worry if you’re not getting feedback, as you may be getting complacent or you may be isolated or others might be afraid to provide you with input.

Thoughts on Welcoming Feedback

  • Giving or receiving feedback means that you’re invested in the success in the person or project or initiative – invested enough to provide input with the objective of improvement.
  • A good way to get positive feedback is to be proactive about managing yourself, and communicating what you’re doing, what you need to succeed, what success looks like, etc., 
  • Provide the data and information to back up the feedback you’re giving. Have the same expectation when others give feedback to you.
  • Feedback should be given continuously and productively. There should be no surprises at annual performance reviews for example.
  • Feedback is a team sport. Share feedback across teams and organizations.

Thoughts on How to Better Communicate Feedback

  • Treat feedback as a gift, an opportunity to learn and grow and level-up! Be open enough so that you can understand and integrate that feedback so that you can grow and learn.
  • Give feedback with sensitivity and humility and curiosity. Give feedback because you care about the person or project.
  • Use feedback to help your team feel empowered and engaged. A happy team makes for a happy customer!
  • When feedback is painful, be open and curious, but also give yourself time for self-reflection and integration. Keep being courageous and open, but don’t make deadlines for when feedback must be adopted.
  • Remember that feedback about the quality of work done can be a very sensitive discussion – it’s a tough conversation whether the quality is too good (not efficiently produced) or not so good…
  • Manage and communicate feedback so that the other party takes ownership, adopts strategies for improving, and invests in making a necessary change.
  • Second-hand feedback must be dealt with directly, so feedback doesn’t become gossipy and petty.
  • Provide feedback which is SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. 
  • Be clear on expectations and the metrics for success. 
  • When you’re giving feedback on somebody’s communication style, be clear whether you’re addressing the performance, the communication pattern or both. 

The Role of Customer Feedback

  • Listen to the feedback that customers provide, and leverage that feedback to drive the product roadmap.
  • With that said, understanding the market feedback and the input of multiple customers helps you in turn give insights and input to customers.
  • It’s critical to then provide feedback to the team, about the input of customers, as this would help the team implement the solutions in demand.
  • Let market and customer feedback define the time, the effort and the commitment to products and solutions.
  • Respect the transactional aspects of relationships, but focus on the partnerships developed and long-term commitments made.

The bottom line is that feedback is a critical part of the growth of an individual, a team, a product, an organization. Creating a culture of empathy and trust can lead to more productive and constructive feedback, raising the bar for all makes everyone better and stronger. 


6 Ways To Build A Feedback Driven Culture That Inspires8 Examples of Constructive Feedback With Sample ScenariosHow to Ask Your Customers Questions to Get Feedback (Tips)

Productivity Hacks

November 6, 2020

FountainBlue’s November 6 Front Line Managers’ Online meeting was on the Productivity Hacks topic. My thanks also to our panelists for their participation. 

  • Email Productivity Hacks – Parshuram Zantye, Lam Research
  • Meeting Management Techniques – Nancy Moreno, Equinix
  • Leveraging IT for the Good of All – Sameer Mehdiratta, Renesas
  • Optimizing Communications – Adriane McFetridge, Netflix

Below are notes from the discussion.

The pressure to be productive in a technology company has been intensified by the global and technological evolution over the past couple of decades, and further exacerbated by the health, social, economic and political stressors introduced in 2020.

Our panel of technology professionals shared some very useful best practices which are compiled below.

  • Be strategic so that you can work efficiently. 
    • A firefighting mode takes more energy and resources and in the end might not be as effective as planning ahead strategically.
    • Focus on what’s most impactful, most important to you. (See Stephen Covey 4 Quadrants)
      • 80% of your time should focus on the 20% of things which are most important to you.
      • Although you may do some firefighting for things that are important and urgent, most of your time should focus on the important things that are not urgent.
    • Distinguish between the urgent and the important and prioritize accordingly.
    • Consciously spend less time on incidental communications and proactively manage how much time you need from others for non-essential things.
  • Manage your meetings well.
    • Be clear whether meetings are for information, discussion/debate, decision-making, brainstorming etc., and communicate the agenda accordingly.
    • Use the agenda to construct follow-up notes and actions.
    • Create value in short, iterative steps and build a predictable rhythm in the meeting and for the team.
    • Know the purpose of the meeting, the audience of the meeting, the role of each attendee and focus on the joint goals of the meeting.
  • Manage communications so that all intended recipients can be clear and productive, and everyone is clear on the task at hand, and clear on the background/status/purpose for the project.
    • Know your audience and communicate to their needs.
    • Start with the big picture communication in the first three sentences, leaving the details under that. 
    • Deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time for the right reason.
    • Understand the impact of the communication, and the implications for the recipients and plan accordingly. 
    • Describe strategic details to those who are tactically-minded and vice versa so that parties understand how the team/people work together.
  • Proactively manage your up-times and your down-times, away from your e-mail, your social media accounts, your slacks and texts.
  • Be purposeful in what you do, focused on doing it well.
    • Sometimes multi-tasking is over-valued, if a singular, concentrated focus on a high-priority task is what’s in order. (Adopt the open-one-drawer-at-a-time mindset where appropriate.)
    • Welcome input and feedback and perspectives.
    • Know yourself and what you like to do, what you do well, and find opportunities which let you do both.
  • Help others be more productive in these trying times.
    • Help them adjust to the process and technology changes which need to happen to keep up with work and market demands. 
    • There will be ‘life’ challenges which interfere with the productivity of others, including elderly care, child care, grocery shopping, house issues etc., Insisting on productivity when life hits hard could make people less productive in the end, and less committed and engaged.
  • Embrace technology to support you in efficiently managing your workload and communications.
    • Video conferencing and the associated tools including recording, breakout rooms, subtitles and translations help us better document and communicate. 
    • The pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital adoption for individuals and companies. IT teams have moved mountains to provide secure and efficient access for their staff from locations throughout the world. These solutions make it easier for everyone to remotely communicate, collaborate and connect.

Studies show that we have not lost too much productivity, despite the challenges of 2020. But in the end, we are all social beings, so working in isolation may impact our productivity in the long run. Providing the technology solution and the physical contact will be necessary in order to maintain our productivity levels.