In a Bud to Boss Workshop earlier this week, a question was asked that I had some trouble answering at first, and because of that I have been continuing to think about it.
Without exposing any confidences from the group or providing too much detail, the crux of the question was something like this:
Are there shorthand ways to give feedback to people quickly without having to walk through a full multi-step conversation? The example as given in class was a relatively common situation, and the asker shared a statement that works with his group to communicate the feedback clearly – and quickly. Because of the success with this statement, the participant was looking for other examples from me.
After some discussion which lead us to determine that is his shorthand communicates successfully to members of his team, I was still stumped, unable to think of any additional suggestions or examples.
Now, after further reflection, here is how I wish I would have answered the question. (The rest of this post borrows from an email sent to that participant, again, without details that would be inappropriate.)
The allure and desire for shorthand ways to communicate messages effectively is clear and strong. As leaders and coaches we have lots to do, lots think about and lots to communicate. If we could share short comments as feedback that would save both us and the other person time, that would be great. so while valuable and desirable, the big concern I have with that wish is that I believe shorthand feedback is unlikely to be successful without help.
Think about it this way. Communication is complicated enough, fraught with opportunities for misunderstanding or misapplication already, so unless you can assure that the shorthand comment or feedback will mean the same thing to everyone you share it with, it is probably a bad approach. Unfortunately, what is crystal clear to us, won’t always be to others.
If you have examples in your work of these shorthand phrases that carry a common meaning and help people keep their behavior on track, fantastic, keep using them! Chances are, however, that while they are shorthand now, they developed that ways with deliberate effort or a very specific organizational context.
To achieve the level of communication and feedback success we would be striving for, would require creation in context with a team, based on mutually understood situations, implications and meaning.
Could this be done? Of course it could!
However getting to shorthand will require work and effort,which may negate the attractiveness of the time saved.
I hope this post has been helpful, because I feel it addresses an important question, though one that hadn’t been posed to me before. As always, I welcome your feedback, thoughts and ideas as a comment.