From Feedback to Feedforward: 3 Tips for Better Mentoring

From Feedback to Feedforward: 3 Tips for Better Mentoring

Many leaders are taught that a mentor’s role is to give their mentee feedback and advice. Feedback has a place, but there are times when feedforward is the more impactful approach. Below are important mentoring tips that explain when to use feedback and feedforward.

Feedforward is a concept that Marshall Goldsmith often talks about in his writing about leadership communication. It’s also a key skill I help my clients develop.

There Are Two Distinctions to Make About Feedback and Feedforward:

  1. Past vs. future focus: Feedback is focused on what was said or done previously, while feedforward is focused on what could be said or done differently in the future.
  2. Telling vs. asking: Feedback is usually delivered via statements such as “You were not direct in asking for what you want.” Feedforward is usually delivered via questions, such as “What could you do differently next time to make your request more direct?”

This is not to say feedback doesn’t have a role. It is especially useful when pointing out a blind spot that may be impeding progress.

But when the mentee knows they missed the mark and they’re looking for better options for the future, try offering feedforward.

Your job is to listen for which is more helpful in the moment.

3 Tips for Better Mentoring

  1. Ask open-ended questions: Avoid yes/no questions in favor of open-ended questions that help them explore ideas they haven’t considered.
  2. Be curious: Let your own curiosity guide your questions.
  3. Slow down: Instead of rushing in with ideas and advice, leave space for them to come up with their own options.

Modern mentoring is so much more than simply giving advice and sharing what’s worked for you. Today it’s about helping the next generation of leaders to be successful in their own way. Feedforward is a skill for forward-thinking mentors and, ultimately, forward-thinking organizations.

Read more content about leadership skill building by clicking here.

3 Simple Phrases to Gain More Influence

3 Simple Phrases to Gain More Influence

Think of a specific situation where you are struggling to influence a resistant colleague, boss or spouse. You’ve used reason, facts, appealed to their emotions and still can’t convince them. Frustrating, right? Successful women physicians use these key phrases to gain more influence.

Dale Carnegie may have said it best when he said, “There is only one way…to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the person want to do it.”

Here are some simple tips my physician clients find helpful to gain more influence, and get people to want to do things for you:

Put Others First to Gain More Influence

It’s difficult to persuade others to help us with a ‘me first’ approach. “I’ll be a more attentive spouse when he/she is more attentive towards me,” or “I’ll work harder when my boss recognizes my contribution.” What do they need, expect or lack? When people feel seen and heard they’re much more likely to help you achieve what you want.

Distinguish Between the Need vs. Want of the Other Party

How? Hone your ability to read between the lines. When people say they want more time off work what they’re really saying is they need to do more of is most meaningful. When they say they want to be heard perhaps what they need is to be understood.

These 3 phrases appeal to a person’s sense of safety, belonging, and esteem and are helpful in influencing others to follow your lead.

  • “What if…” This phrase depersonalizes the situation and creates an environment conducive to problem solving. “What if we were to try solution x?”
  • “I need your help…” This reverses roles and shifts the power dynamic, putting a subordinate in an empowered leadership role. “I need your help to solve this problem…”
  • “Would it be helpful if…” The spotlight moves from the problem and focuses attention on the solution. “Would it be helpful is we tried x instead of y?”

Whether you are the CMO trying to improve patient safety, or you simply want to get your pick of vacation spots, knowing how to flex your influence muscles is essential.

P.S. Need strategies to have more influence at work? Schedule your consult today!

Rapidly Planning Effective Meetings

Rapidly Planning Effective Meetings

Physician leaders often say that one of the biggest differences between practicing medicine and leading a practice, department, or an organization is the way time is spent. Collaboration and teamwork require lots of effective meetings.

A poorly planned meeting is frustrating and feels like like a costly waste of time. But who has time to plan when you are running all day to and from various meetings? Better outcomes of meetings don’t have to take more time. Years of sailing has taught me that what really makes a difference about whether I end up where I want to be and do so smoothly, depends on the rudder on the bottom of the boat, beneath the surface. A clear intention is the rudder of your boat – your meeting –- and it will determine your outcome and the quality of your journey.

Dr. Jane, a busy Chief Medical Officer, takes pride in planning effective meetings. As her responsibilities have expanded, she just doesn’t have as much time. I shared a strategy that has simplified her planning time so much, that she can do it walking down the hall to her next meeting.

Set a Clear Intention Before Each Meeting to Create Better Results.

A clear intention — knowing what you want to achieve – is the make-it- or-break- it factor of where your meeting goes. Keep in mind that it is best to set an intention about what you want, rather than what you don’t want, from the meeting.

Whether you are leading a group meeting or in a one-on- one interaction, take one minute to ask yourself two questions:

  1. What will be most important to this relationship?
  2. If I only get one outcome, what must it be?

Dr. Jane wanted to influencer her boss about an upcoming decision. Being helpful and assuring her loyalty was key to maintaining the relationship with her boss. Dr. Jane defined the success of the meeting as becoming clear about her boss’s needs related to the upcoming decision.

You can’t plan or anticipate what might happen in each interaction. However, your clear intention will keep your focus on your most important outcomes for any interaction. Prioritizing both the relationship and the desired outcomes keeps you on course as an effective leader.

Read more content about communication for impact by clicking here.

What Women Physicians Can Learn About Power from White House Women

What Women Physicians Can Learn About Power from White House Women

Women physicians struggle to have their perspective heard in meetings. The female staffers in the White House shared their solution to that problem last week in The Washington Post.

The environment in the White House sounds so much like life for women in medicine!

  • 24/7 days a week job with only so much time to make a difference in your career
  • The senior female aids reported they felt subservient, even though the Administration desired diversity.
  • Too often the women who are assertive and do have a point of view are considered bossy and difficult.
  • Just as women don’t like to ask for more money, they don’t like to have to ask to be in the room. The men will make sure they are in the room.

The female White House senior staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called “amplification”. When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.

A huge number of women already support one another, and we get our voices heard faster when we do!

Want To Be In The Room?  Watch the video here. (5:44)

Can Introverts Lead?

Do you find groups of people exhausting or exhilarating? Does speaking to groups make you nervous or do you just go in and “wing it”? Your tendencies may be tied to how much of an introvert or extrovert you are. One style isn’t necessarily better than the other; they’re just different. While about half of us are introverts, many of the traits people associate with leaders, being dominant or good at giving directions, are traits associated with extroverts.

Recent findings by Harvard Business school researchers show that when it comes to the day-to-day teamwork so often required in today’s workplace, introverts actually have the advantage.  The research released in the Academy of Management Journal 2011 reports on the impact of leadership style and group performance. The researchers demonstrated that when employees are proactive, those who lead in a less extroverted style get better results.  More passive employees got better results with an extroverted leader.

What causes the performance difference?

Extroverts, being more dominant, drove conversations and were less receptive to new ideas.

Introverts listened to ideas, internalized them and were able to improve team performance.

What Specific Findings Can You Use?

  1. Less extroverted leaders can get the best results from staff by actively encouraging proactive behaviors on the part of employees.
  2. Highly extroverted leaders that tend to be more assertive may wish to adopt a more reserved style in situations in which staff suggestions are important.
  3. Proactive employees may want to look for opportunities to work with less extroverted managers.

To request recommendations or tools on how you can be a more effective introvert leader – call or email.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

For each number, select either A or B as best describing you.

1. When asked a question,

A. I usually jump right in and start to answer.

B. I usually like to think about it or “chew on it” before I answer.

2. After a stressful day,

A. I generally want to go out with a group of friends to unwind.

B. I generally want to have time to myself to unwind.

3. Which of the following better describes you?

A. I’m rarely at a loss for words.

B. Sometimes I struggle to find the right word or phrase.

4. How do you relate to people?

A. I consider a lot of people to be my friends and make new friends easily.

B. I consider just a few people to be friends (and think of most people as acquaintances) and make new friends gradually.

5. Which of the following better describes the way others view you?

A. Others often see me as a go-getter or a people person.

B. Others often see me as calm or reserved.

Scoring: If you have more A answers than B answers, there’s a good chance that you have a preference for extroversion; more B answers than A, a preference for introversion.

What Successful Introvert Leaders Do

Enhance your communication style to be even more effective as an introvert leader.

By understanding the challenges and recognizing the strengths of being an introvert, you can manage your roles more successfully and improve your overall career management strategy.

Can you relate to any of these?

Common Introvert
Communication Styles
Enhancing Your
Communication Style
Like to communicate by reading and writing. Recognize that your message might not get across unless you’re willing to say it aloud.
Experience your enthusiasm internally and don’t show it to others. Be aware that others may think you are uninterested, selectively let people know what you care about.
Share your views and perspective with those closest to you. Consider sharing feelings and perspective with selected people outside your intimate circles.
Discuss thoughts and feelings but perhaps not immediately. Notice the style of those you are with and attempt to match their need to talk now or wait.


Emotionally Intelligent Anger Management

Screaming at a co-worker? Throwing a cell phone? Some people are hot heads, and the people around them are walking on egg shells not knowing when the next blow up will be. What can you do?

Professional anger-management trainers say that in most cases anger isn’t an illness but a normal human emotion that causes problems when it flares too hot, too often. They believe people can learn to manage their anger with practical skills. Most anger-management programs stress “emotional intelligence”—the idea that understanding why you are frustrated or annoyed or upset, and finding calm, constructive means to get your way, is far more effective than losing your temper.

George Anderson, founder of Anderson & Anderson, says some people who get angry in the workplace are perfectionists who expect perfection from others, while some are subconsciously masking feelings of vulnerability. His firm offers dozens of customized anger-management programs for different professions, including physicians who’ve lost hospital privileges due to patient or staff complaints.

Leadership Application

Most of us don’t need an anger- management program but would benefit from some techniques borrowed from cognitive-behavioral therapy to help deal with anger. Here are some strategies to help keep negative emotions in check.

  • Reframe the situation. Instead of seeing every inconvenience or frustration as a personal affront, imagine a benign explanation.
  • Find a constructive solution to the issue at hand. “Ask yourself: what do I need to be okay right now?” That shifts the focus from how the other person needs to be punished to how I need to respond in a healthy way.
  • Keep an “anger log” to monitor what makes you angry. Learn to identify and avoid your triggers.
  • Be aware that anger tends to rise in increments. Learn to evaluate yours from 1 (frustration) to 10 (rage). If you can catch yourself at 3 or 4, you can think more rationally about the situation.
  • If you feel a blowup coming on, give yourself a time-out before acting on it. Wait 15 minutes before you say something, or an hour before you send an email. If it’s not going to be important in an hour, then let it go. It’s not worth getting angry about.
  • Get a health checkup. Medical problems such as diabetes, chronic pain, low testosterone and low estrogen, can make people very irritable.
  • Be aware of how you talk to yourself. If you keep saying how awful this is and making yourself feel like a victim, you will get more angry.
  • Get physical, without fists. When your primitive brain senses a threat, it sets off the “fight or flight” cascade of hormones. Opt for flight instead of fight and burn off the extra adrenaline and cortisol with exercise. Even a brisk walk will help calm you down.

The ultimate lesson: Pay more attention to the important things in life and recognize that most frustrations, inconveniences and indignities are trivial and temporary. You may have more control than you think!

Are angry outbursts a pattern in your life or at your workplace? Have any questions about Emotional Intelligence and what to do next? Feel free to email me or post a comment.