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What’s the Impact?

Giving people feedback can be fraught at the best of times. We don’t want to offend someone. But we also need to see improvement. There needs to be a change in behaviour.

The biggest challenge may be how to frame the conversation. Will the other get defensive? Will emotions spill over? Will we lose track of what the specific issue is? Will we be able to convey what success looks like?

Someone I worked with recently had a staff member who had racked up an eye-watering amount of sick days. But nothing was changing. There needed to be a conversation with the individual. The manager also needed clarity on what to do. One word kept coming up as I asked a few questions…

Impact. What is the impact of the behaviour? On the team, on the manager and as a cost to the bottom line of the business? As we started down this line of thinking the way to frame the conversation and to move forward became clear.

To make meaningful progress, people need to know the effect their actions have had. For both positive and negative outcomes. We must establish the impact.

There are two instances to consider when establishing the impact:

1. When giving feedback.
2. When looking at a desired future state to aim for.

When giving feedback it’s important to be specific and keep on track. Ever used the phrase “you always” or “you never” in a discussion with a significant other? How’d that work out?…… I thought so!

The Center for Creative Leadership developed the SBI Feedback tool. It stands for Situation, Behaviour and Impact. I’ve found it useful for both praise and constructive feedback. Next time you have to give feedback consider the following three questions:

  • What is the specific situation or incident I am referring to?
  • What are the specific behaviours I observed?
  • What was the impact of those behaviours from my viewpoint?

You can then have an open and useful conversation. This may lead to some insights from the other person about some underlying issues. Communication could be one.

The point of feedback is to enable progress. We can’t make progress if we don’t know what we’re aiming for. We then need to shift the conversation to clarifying the desired future state.

Ask a simple question I’ve applied in various forms to different situations.  “If we are successful [in resolving this issue], what does a day in your life look and feel like a year from now?”

The aim is to visualise the impact they want. To make it as tangible as possible. It becomes something that they can work towards and keep as a guiding light.

Does your team need to clarify the impact it wants to have? Contact me here to discuss how to run a session on impact.

Should a situation arise where you need to clarify the facts or the way forward. Start by asking “What’s the impact?”

Doug Maarschalk is a trainer, facilitator and coach who uses the principles of intrinsic motivation as the foundation for his work. He has worked with New Zealand businesses in the horticulture, legal, accounting, financial services, real estate and healthcare sectors.
Read more about the Services Doug provides and the Clients he has worked with.

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