Jonathan spent 20 years building careers in business development and personal growth before figuring out a way to bring them together. He advises CEOs and organizational leaders on how to create a people-first culture that drives results. Refound works with organizations going through dynamic change, from Fortune 100 companies like Panasonic and McKesson to tech startups. Jonathan loves being a dad to two girls, surfing, and yoga. He also has a surprisingly good jump shot.
“That's what feedback is about. It's not to correct the mistake, it's to start a conversation.”
What do you do when someone is obviously less productive?
Patrick Gallagher: so let's say I just noticed somebody on my team who is obviously less productive and even more so now remote.
And now I'm wondering in my head, Are they just playing more video games? Is something else going on? I want to ask, but I have no idea how to approach this conversation. And in fact, like I'm actually pretty fearful of giving direct feedback like that. What would you do? What does that look like?
Jonathan Raymond: Yeah, so I know we'll get into the model and some of the structure behind this later.
But the key thing to remember, there's two parts to this:
One is... As human beings. There's two things that we do. One that we're really good at, and one that we're really awful at. The thing that we're really good at is sensing or noticing that something is off. Our powers of observation or incredibly attuned, right?
So we sense even with very minimal data, something's off, something's wrong. Something's going off with this person. So in this, so we, in this example, like they're less productive.
The other thing that we do, which were awful at... Is we assume we know why. We make a conclusion.
Well, I know why they're being less productive. It's because they're livestreaming or you know, they're playing video games or whatever. And all of our problems, as managers who are 99% of our problems as managers when it comes to feedback and coaching is merging those two things instead of separating them.
So instead of merging them, instead of saying, well, that person's being less productive and it's because they're playing video games, it's, "Oh, that person's seems to be less productive. I wonder why...?"
That's the whole thing, right? It sounds easy. It's very difficult to do because that power of making assumptions and making theories and making stories... We have such a powerful ability to do that. And we mostly use it to two bad ends.
So in that example, and I this, I had an example very much like that recently. And so I said to the manager, said, "okay, so what can you do about it?"
And he said, "well, I can't say anything about that."
And I said, "well, wait a second. You can't say anything about your theory that he's playing video games, but that doesn't mean you can't say nothing. Right?
And he's like, "well, well, I guess I could talk about the performance..."
"Okay, great. What could you say about the performance?"
"Well, I guess I could say that I've noticed the difference between when we were in the office, you were performing at a pretty high level, and now that we'd been remote, it's been not as good."
And I said, "Great! So can you say that?
So that, and that was it. I said, "That's all you want to say. Just that... Maybe you're right. Maybe he is playing video games, but maybe there's a whole other reason that you don't know of."
And so he went and did that and he separated the observation from the conclusion, right? He made the observation. And then he... He Slacked me later that day. We were in the same Slack group and he said, "You'll never believe what happened! I just made the observation and it turned into this amazing conversation. It turned out it had nothing to do with playing video games. It was like this thing that happened in this other department, and he was being pulled into this project and he wasn't, he wasn't clear about what the objectives were."
And so just by making the observation, he opened up a whole other conversation about something that, that his teammate wanted to talk about but didn't know how.
Introducing First Community Example: Are they sick? When do we have a performance conversation?
Patrick Gallagher: That's great. We're going to dive into, I have so many followup questions about the mechanics. Jerry's going to take over that in a, in a second. So we're going to unpack why that works. What happened, what's the magic? I think that was a part of that whole conversation, but,
Well, first off, I wanted to share a, I guess another example that's really in the moment right now in dealing with sort of the context going on with covid-19 so people can have that as a frame of mind as we unpack what just happened so.
The real situation shared with us by the community was somebody has a direct report who has been exhibiting signs of paranoia about getting sick and has been asking
Taiki to take time off due to flu like symptoms. And it's happened a couple of times in the last few weeks. And this person, typically background is a high performer, generally ambitious, but productivity, engagement have tanked. And what's happened is the managers tried to be supportive. And tried to let them know they can rest and recover.
But the question is, and the, the dilemma is, at what point do they start giving feedback about expectations and what's the best way to approach... Like, how do you know if that person's actually sick?
And so would love to, Jerry, if you want to kick in and help unpack the next step of the Accountability Dial, we'll let people think about that context and see if we can dive into the accountability and I, with that frame in mind, .
Why are people afraid to give critical feedback?
Jerry Li: Alright. Sounds magic.
Let's just dive in. I know before we get into the Accountability Dial, the model.
So Jonathan, I want to ask you, why do you think people are so afraid of giving critical feedback? And what makes it so hard?
Jonathan Raymond: Yeah, so to me, there are three primary obstacles to why we avoid or, or sort of minimize the need to give feedback.
And it's fear. In some form or another. The myth of no time. I have no time to do that. Or resignation. There's no point cause it's not going to make a difference. So it's either fear. I don't have time, or I don't have time or the perception that I don't have time, which is, I'll call it a myth or resignation. Well, it does not gonna matter. It's not gonna matter, so I'm not going to say anything anyway,
So that those, what I would say would be the three primary reasons why people avoid feedback. And another, you know, with fear. Another one is, well, I'm afraid that people won't like me. It's not just I'm afraid because it's uncomfortable or awkward. It's oftentimes one, I'm afraid because I don't want that person to not like me.
Jerry Li: Is that okay for people to not like you as a manager?
Jonathan Raymond: It's essential. Yeah. I mean, you can't, you can't lead or manage a team effectively if you're running everything from the perspective of I need to be liked. Right? That's... You've collapsed as an authority and it's a lot of things we talked about in the book, is you, you have to be willing, if you're going to be in a management or leadership role in an organization. You have to be willing. It's a vulnerable position, right? Because you have context, you have data, you have ob, you have obligations and responsibilities that others don't have, and may not always understand.
You've got to be willing to work on that threshold to not always be like, it doesn't mean being mean, right? But oftentimes you're going to be in a position of asking somebody to do something or requiring something that, that creates discomfort. with the people on your team, you gotta be, you have to have some threshold for that.
Jerry Li: So that basically means, as a manager, you can't hope that you will be liked, but also you can't help effectively people to grow. So you have to pick one. And the right one to pick is take a responsibility to help other, people to grow, give the feedback and not make it the goal that people will like you.
Jonathan Raymond: Right. I mean, imagine like, you know, if anybody uses like a Peloton or some piece of like, you know, whether they're home, home, you know, re, fitness equipment or whatever you, like, if there were classes with somebody who said like, Oh, you know, just, just pedal as fast as you want. It's fine. You know, don't do anything that's gonna. Be uncomfortable, right?
Like you'd never go back to that class... Right? Because they're not pushing you. They're not challenging you to become better. And so the classes, the people that we respond to who have expertise are the people who are a little bit further up the hill and they're saying, "Hey, you're going to have to push a little bit to get to where I am."
Right? And so we, we know that in other parts of our life, sometimes we forget that at work.
Jerry Li: Yep. And that ties to employee engagement as well because a lot of people right now, when they work for a company their goal is to, to grow, to get better. And the way to do that is as a manager, you are in a position to observe and give feedback and also help.
If you don't do that, well, we have, you're always being nice to these people. But eventually, people don't feel the room for growth and then eventually well... You know, they'll leave.
Jonathan Raymond: That's right.
The Accountability Dial
Jerry Li: Let's dive into the model - the Accountability Dial. What is it?
Jonathan Raymond: So one of the things that I realized about myself, which maybe some folks can relate to is, you know, my, my skillset, my subject matter expertise was much more on the business development you know, marketing, sales, know, sort of high level product design. but what I realized, the part that I wasn't good at was the people management part.
And I was in some fairly senior leadership positions and finding myself struggling with giving feedback, having coaching, and, and I, and I just want, I knew that I wasn't doing a good job.
and, I started to look around for a model to do, to do this thing called feedback and development. I didn't, I couldn't find a model that really spoke to me. So I created one for myself just for my own leadership to try to get better. and ultimately it became known as the Accountability Dial. And I wrote the book about it and all of that.
But I was really just trying to find a way to talk with my team about the things that I was seeing, the opportunities that I saw for them to get better in in some different way that I just didn't know how to do.
And so what I did was create the Accountability Dial, which is a five step process for how they start and manage a conversation with an employee. Yes, you can use it for performance, for correcting something that isn't going well.
But the reason why I created the tool this way is it's also for praising and reinforcing the things that aren't going well. It's also for giving feedback to peers. It's also for giving feedback feedback to people more senior.
So it's a five stage conversation. The Mention, The Invitation, the Conversation, the Boundary, and the Limit.
It doesn't have a lot of lingo. It's, it's, I think most people find it's fairly logical in the approach. it's a way for managers to start and manage conversations so that they don't feel awkward. People don't have to get defensive. It's just, "Hey, here's what I'm seeing"
and you can move step by step through the dial.
Jerry Li: When I first read your book and got to know the, the model, I felt really impressed at how actionable it is to know there are five different stages. And especially "The Mention" which is the first step. Is the difference like, if you know it, you can almost think a lot of scenarios we can apply right away.
So, What is the definition of The Mention and, what are the signs that you think this is a, something that you can leverage The Mention as a technique to open a conversation? Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Jonathan Raymond: Yeah. So The Mention is a short observation often, but not always a question about something you're seeing.
So it's the spirit of The Mention is, "Hey, do you have a second?"
Now when we're going to talk about in person and also remote, but the spirit of The Mention, is there something you're seeing? Right? It could be an obvious, you know. Work is not up to the quality that you need. It could be an accountability issue. It could be an attitude or approach, right? It doesn't matter what it's about. It's, it's in that spirit of, if you see something, say something, that's essentially what The Mention is.
And the sign that you know that you should use it. Is when anytime something pops in your awareness of like, "Oh, that person seems a little disengaged"
Or, you know, "I got that scope of work from them and it seems like it's not very clear and it's usually really clear when they send me things"
Or "the way that they're responding on that email and they're being really edgy with that person. And I don't know why."
It's using our power of observations like we talked about at the beginning, and The Mention is simply naming or asking a question about something that we're seeing. Could be in any area of the business. Anything that's going on in the team between two people. On a, in a team dynamic with the product could be anywhere.
Just naming it and the power of naming is so... undervalued in our world. We were so quick to thinking we can't name it until we have a solution. And that's so many of the problems that we create as we think we have to have the solution. And we haven't even asked the question yet. We haven't even made an observation about what we're seeing.
And so that's where we can really leverage The Mention is any time.... And if you, you know, if you can post it in chat right now... Anything that you're seeing and I can't see all the things you're putting in chat... Well, should I use a mention about that? Should I use them? Yes. My answer is yes to all of those things, because you can't lose, right?
If there's something that you're observing... Let's assume, let's say, you, you, you, you're seeing something about, you know, somebody's feeling, you know, they're, you sense they're disengaged or the quality of work, and you name it and you're wrong...
Okay, well then you just learned something about yourself, right? Then you just, "Oh, wait, we have, that's so interesting. Why did I think that. Oh, I can learn something about myself."
It's not people set up the thing with feedback, "well, I can't give feedback unless I know I'm right."
Pointless. Right? Like you've, you've, you've missed the whole game.
The purpose of feedback is learning. Sometimes it's for your direct report or a colleague. Oftentimes it's for you, right? Like, why did you perceive it that way? What can you learn about yourself?
And the purpose of feedback is actually in the second step, which is reflection. "Oh that's so interesting, why was that the case?" Right? "Why is that person showing up that way?"
It's all in those questions. That's what feedback is about. It's not to correct the mistake, it's to start a conversation. And the way that we do that as the, with The Mention, cause if we don't do The Mention, then we end up having feedback, conversations that are big and scary and people feel like it came out of left field and blindsided and like, "well why didn't you say anything sooner?"
Et cetera, et cetera.
Jerry Li: Yeah. I think that's very critical to realize that that's a. a perspective, probably a new perspective people need to have and internalize.
The way you look at feedback is not... You're picking on people. You're making a judgment, but it's, you know, out of care. Out of curiosity,
"this is what, this is the first time I saw this happen.
I just notice it and tell me and tell me more about it."
Jonathan Raymond: Right.
Jerry Li: And then we'll open conversation.
Jonathan Raymond: That's right.
Patrick Gallagher: I have a follow up question because Susan in the chat mentioned, like when giving feedback, sometimes it can be interpreted poorly. And you, you talked a little bit about how The Mention is a great way to do that in the spirit of feedback is about opening up a conversation.
Can you talk a little bit more about how you could apply The Mention to avoid getting a negative feedback? Because they, for example, Jerry will tell you that I'm a pretty difficult person to give feedback to you because I get really defensive. and I, I get like. Like an angry bear or something.
When somebody gives me negative feedback. So can you, can you help dive in a little bit deeper into how to avoid...
Jonathan Raymond: Yeah. So the thing that I, that I really want to encourage people to do is to invest in the relationship, right? So figure out the O S if we can use that terminology, like what is the, what is the system by which I manage this person.
And so, you know, one of the things that we work with really early on in our program for managers is, so you set up that relationship. So with, if I was working with Jerry, if Jerry was my client, I would say, "Hey, when you know, what does it look like when you're giving Patrick feedback?"
"Like when do you typically do that? How does that go? Like, what do you know about Patrick that are like, what are the moments where he's more likely to get defensive? What are the moments where he's more likely to be receptive?"
So you actually talk about the process for giving each other feedback before you actually do it. So you create the context.
Hey, so if I'm Jerry, I would say, "Hey Patrick. So I want us to be able to give feedback to one another, not just me giving you feedback, but I also want us... Like how should we do that? Like let's build a plan together. I know we have our weekly one on ones, or by whatever it is."
What are, what's sort of the mechanics. And so when somebody has, a lot of times when people are getting defensive and pushing back. What they're saying to you is, "Hey, there's no agreement... There's no agreement to do this. So I don't know what's happening right now."
That's what they're trying to articulate, even though they don't, might not have the words. And so it's that small little investment upfront with that person like, "Hey, here's how we're, here's how I would like to do feedback."
And if the Accountability Dial speaks to you... "Hey, I want to use this Accountability Dial tool as our common language. Can we talk about that?"
Right? And then when you start using it, they'll be like, "Oh, okay I know what's happening."
Right. When people are pushing back, it's mostly because, "well, I don't know what's happening. I don't know. Am I in trouble? Is this punitive? What did I do wrong?"
Whatever. Is that helpful?
Patrick Gallagher: Super helpful. And I definitely appreciate the note of how common language helps overcome the fear of feedback.
Applying The Mention & the 4 Realities
Jerry Li: I want to continue with the notion Jonathan brought up, which is, which is we need to have a coaching agreement.
Probably the, the conversation going to happen is when you first hire someone, it's during the onboarding process. Like you know, "thank you for joining the company and as a manager, this is my goal. I want to help you to grow. And the way to do that is we need to establish a, a structure or an agreement that how feedback and when, how, and how often it will be shared. So then the goal for that is to help you to grow and it's a bi-directional conversation. I like to hear feedback from you as well."
So I think to have that in place is very important. It will atleast get some of the stress out away in the very beginning.
So another question I have, Jonathan, is, for The Mention, how do you use that towards the earlier example that Patrick mentioned from the community that someone... they have a team member right now we are in a pandemic and they're... he's very sensitive to his health condition...
How do you approach that conversation?
Jonathan Raymond: Yeah, so, one of the things you'll often hear me do is, to break down, A situation into its component parts.
And I think this is something that we, you know, I think we know when I was at the ELC conference last year, we talked about how to tackle organizational debt. And it's a similar idea or similar response, which is, let's take this person's scenario.
So there's, there are at least four things going on, but if this person right now, there's one conversation, he's, he's struggling in the pandemic, worried about his health, worried about his performance, the manager's worried about performance. There's a lot going on.
So there are at least four things going on. One, there is the physical reality, like is this person sick or not? Do they have covid-19 or not? Right?
I, as their manager, I can't answer that question right. But I can use The Mention to... To move that conversation along. "Hey, so I, I, I sense that there's concern of whether or not you, you have it or not, like, is there, I know it's complicated right now, but is there a way that you can get tested or is there some, you know, some doctor that you can talk to, to see if you can get some more comfort there on the actual reality of are you, or are you not... You know, I'm supportive of you. you know, doing that. Is that, you know...?"
So that's one element of it, is the physical reality.
The second is the emotional response to the physical reality, right? So you can be, you can have covid-19 and have a really calm response to it. You can have covid- 19 and have a really panicked response to it.
Like anything that happens in life, different people respond to those stimuli differently, right? So. First, what's the physical reality? I can encourage the person to like get more information there. I can use The Mention to do that. So they don't cycle in, well, I don't know if I have it or not. Okay, well go get a test or go find, you know, go talk to a doctor or to learn more about your symptoms.
Second thing is the emotional reality . And what we need to be able to do as managers is to say something like, "Hey, so look, we have this relationship, you know, I'm, I am your manager. I want to be as supportive as I can. But you know, there's, at some point here, it seems like this is something you should talk with somebody else about. Do you have a resource in your life outside of work of somebody that you can talk to, a coach, a coach, or counselor or somebody? Cause, you know, I don't want to overstep. My role as your manager..."
And being clear about what that boundary is.
You can be supportive and empathic and understand that someone is struggling without going over the line and trying to be their therapist. Which you're not qualified to do, and you're, you can only get yourself in trouble, right? So that's the second part. So now we know we have two places where I, where we can use The Mention.
The third one is the actual performance, like are they performing well or not?
And oftentimes people don't have a good self-assessment, so we as managers can say, "look, I know you, you have a lot of fear right now, but I just want you to know you're doing really well."
Or maybe there's, maybe it's more nuanced, "Hey, you're doing really well in these areas and this area, there's a little bit of room for improvement, but overall I'm happy, you know, don't worry about that."
But then there's the fourth area is the fear of losing my job. Right? Or the fear of layoffs, or, you know, I've worked with a lot of companies lately who are doing really well, right? They're seeing a surge in demand, for example, or they're at least stable, but people are really afraid because their friends have lost their job. Things are going on in the rest of life. How do I as a manager. Intervene, what can I say? Right. And so again, it often comes down to separating what's inside of your control and what's outside of your control.
So as a manager, if you say, "Hey, don't worry. There's not going to be any layoffs, everything's going to be fine.Don't worry about it."
You're undermining your own credibility, right? Because you don't know that. You can't be sure, nobody knows right now what the future is going to be. So, but what you can do is you can separate those two things. You can say, "Hey, look, it's scary. There's a lot going on. I've lost, you know, I know people in my world who've lost jobs as well. so I know there's a lot, you know, and based on everything I know here, things are stable. I don't, I'm not saying don't be, don't have anxiety. I wouldn't say that to you, but you know, it is what it is. Let's separate that now from... Okay, what's, what's actually within your control to focus on what are the projects that you're working on?"
Because what happens is people conflate those two things. They say like, I've got fear and anxiety, AND THEN there's work and it becomes one big mush. And it... And as coaches, managers, leaders. Our responsibility is to help people separate those things.
Okay, so this is real and this is real and this is real. How do we deal with each of those pieces? Right? Instead of solving, but trying to solve the whole thing at once, which will almost never work.
When is the right time for critical feedback?
Jerry Li: Right. That's really helpful. How do you find the time? When is it good timing to share that? Like, people are busy, right?Especially right now, we're all remote. We don't see people in the office. We don't have the hallway conversation.
How do... I know the spirit of The Mention is you do it casually, yol bring up the conversation... But now we're all at home, it's like if you want to have a conversation, do you schedule a meeting? How do you find a time to actually do that?
Jonathan Raymond: Yeah. So there, there are, three or four ways to do this.
The first, which I would advise, which frankly I would advise even when you're in an office, is reserve the first one-third of your one-on-ones for feedback and coaching. So that means if you do a 30 minute one on one, the first 10 minutes should be feedback and coaching.
And that doesn't mean you lecturing them. It means, "Hey, let's spend the first 10 minutes talking about what's going on. You probably have some things going on that you want to talk about in your own growth and development. I'll come each week with some ideas of things that I have feedback about. So building that in to the mechanics, and it's really important that you do that first, because if you start with the tasks and the projects that always bleeds over and takes up all the time, and then the coaching and development always becomes an afterthought.
So start with the coaching and development in the first 10 minutes. And so if you've got an hour, that means 20 minutes. So that's one thing.
Another thing to do is make sure that you have white space between your meetings and you should do this anyway. But in terms of overall health... And I don't know if anybody here has found themselves in wall-to-wall meetings, zoom or teams or whatever, you use... Wall-to-wall meetings with no time and you don't even have the time to walk from one conference room to another because you're just sitting in front of your computer.
That's not good for your physical body. It's not good for your stress levels and it gives you no time to do this really important thing, like send somebody a Slack message and say, "Hey, when this meeting's over, can I call you for a minute? I want to chat with you about something."
If you don't build 10 minutes in between meetings, right? And you know, an hour meeting can always be 50 minutes. Frankly, an hour meeting can always be 20 minutes if you, if you're disciplined enough. But an hour meeting can always be 50 minutes. So bake those moments into your calendar. So that you, so that you have the opportunity.
And then the third thing, which there's some really interesting data out there now about people using the phone for phone calls more than they have in like the last 10 years. Pick up the phone. Call this person, have a human conversation with them, you will be SHOCKED at the result. I know we're we're sooo entrained to text these days, the text or or Slack or whatever, you know, tool we use. We're so used to trying to accomplish everything digitally. And this goes to the no time piece...
You spend so much time that you're not tracking so much time trying to manage performance through ineffective methods like through Slack and email and Asana and whatever tools you use. We're constantly trying to manage performance all the time. We're using so much time and and cognitive load on THAT. And if we just had a five minute conversation... Right? But then, we would change it.
And I, and this happens to this is like the story of my life is trying to get somebody to have a five minute conversation. They go and have the five minute conversation. They're like, "Oh my God, I should have done this six months ago. This was so great. We got into it right away. And it was a little edgy at first, but it was fine. And we ended up talking about something really important."
All right. So that's the, that's what I'd say is use the phone, pick up the phone.
And lastly, on all of those things, use your first half of your one-on-ones, your time in between meetings and the phone to praise and talk about the good stuff AT LEAST as much as you want to give critical or constructive feedback. You got to keep those things in balance.
If every time you send somebody a Slack message to call you back after meeting and they know it's going to be bad news... You've blown it, right? It's gotta be balanced between those two.
Jerry Li: Totally. speaking about using the phone, it's very effective. And I... A time ago, like I, I made a terrible, the way I deliver feedback to, say Patrick was terrible by I sent him a text message without... out of context. So how did, how did you feel Patrick, back back then?
Patrick Gallagher: I was absolutely furious. I think I steamed for three hours about how mad I was with the feedback.
Jonathan Raymond: Yeah.
Jerry Li: And then we had a conversation over the phone in five minutes. You know, it's more effective than just texting Slack and just pick up the phone and, it's very, it's short and quick.
Jonathan Raymond: Yeah, I did it once in the Chicago airport. I was, I had just gotten off a plane and I was rushing to get in a Lyft and I texted somebody feedback.
I was like, it was a couple of years ago. And I was like, "Oh, you dumb ass. Like, why didn't you do that?"
And of course they were, you know, there was no context. And I think this is another really important thing and this goes a little bit more into transparency is...
As the manager remember... When you've set an expectation or you've communicated some objective or whatever, it's always more clear in your head than it is for the person receiving it. And there's a really important reason why.
It's not because you didn't communicate it. It's because the person that you're communicating it to wasn't in the meeting that you were in where all the context was given. Right? They weren't part of the discussion. They haven't been thinking about this and all the ways you've been thinking about it.
So your communication might be fine in content, right? The data is accurate, but they don't have the context that you have. So you've got to work harder to to do that. And the same goes with feedback.
That's why... You know, I was working with a CEO once and he said, "Well, I gave them feedback."
And I said, "well, how did it go?"
And he said, "well, I don't know."
And I said, "well, what'd you do?"
He said, "well, I sent them a Slack message."
And I said, "well, how do you know that your feedback was received?"
And he said, "well, I didn't hear anything back..."
I said, "okay, well, so a, that's an interesting conclusion that you're making there...
And then of course, the light bulb went off. He was like, "Oh, wait. Right? Maybe that's not, maybe that doesn't mean that they received the feedback and they agreed with it. Maybe there was a different response."
I said, "yeah, maybe..."
so yeah, Slack, text message, it's all wonderful. Do this stuff in person.
There's a reason why the Holy grail for sales people for a hundred years, well, at least since the invention of the telephone and sales calls, is getting somebody on the phone.
Because when you're actually talking with a human being, some other things happen in the relationship building domain that are, that are pretty important,
Jerry Li: Right. So, it's helpful to know, the Mention model, Assume that that conversation has happened. You casually mention something to your employee about, something you've observed.
And, but. After the conversation things do not get resolved. You keep seeing similar things happening. So what's the next step?
Jonathan Raymond: Yeah, so the second step in the Accountability Dial, what we call The Invitation is to pick up the breadcrumb, right?
So you made a mention, "Hey, I noticed this thing" a
And let's say the person said like, "Oh yeah, you know, I saw that too. I'm going to work on that"
Right. Let's say they acknowledge it and then you say, "okay, I'm going to let it go for the moment."
What we often do as managers is we let it go forever, right? We, we, we think saying it once is enough and it typically isn't right?
When it comes to coaching, we have to reinforce feedback. We have to add different nuance or context, right? "Hey, so in that situation, you did this and we talked about it. Well, we actually didn't talk about it. And in this other situation it's the same issue, but it showed up differently."
Right. And so that's often the place where The Invitation will come in that second step to say, "Hey, we talked about this the other day after that zoom meeting. There's a couple of other things that I noticed, and I think that they might be connected. I think it's part and maybe part of a pattern. Are you noticing that? Can we talk about that." Right?
And so it's that next step. Oftentimes what I'll say is if you looked at a company culture or a team culture, you'll, you could, if you looked at it with x-ray vision, you would see a million started feedback conversations, and you'd see very few conversations actually followed through to the next logical step, which is, "Hey, we talked about that. Can we keep talking about it?"
Right. So that's that second step, and that's that pivot into how you bring it into the one into one-on-ones and the third stage of the conversation.
The key thing about The Invitation is we are very good at seeing patterns of behavior in other people. We are very poor at seeing those patterns of behavior in ourselves. We need our manager to say, "Hey, it wasn't just a one off. I'm not mad. It's not the end of the world. You're not fired. But there's a couple of things that I'm seeing and I think they might be connected. Or I have a theory as to why they might be connected. What do you think?"
And that's a gift to somebody to help them reflect and say, "Oh, wait a second.I really, I hadn't realized that. I hadn't thought about it in that way."
The signs feedback is working
Jerry Li: Yup. And, what are the signs of, you know, you're doing that. What are the sign that it's working? So I know I'm doing, doing well in the Invitation stage.
Jonathan Raymond: Do you see change? It's that simple. Do you see change?
Like if you, if you give feedback and if... And the behavior doesn't change, your feedback was ineffective.
Doesn't mean it was wrong. It just means it didn't work. So you got to keep going. Right? And so you have to, you have to trust in the outcome, right?
So if you give somebody feedback, if you try a Mention and the behavior doesn't change and we've got to talk about what we mean by that, then that means you have to revisit that conversation.
The only wrong move is like, "Oh, well I gave feedback. I guess it, I guess they're not going to change..." Right?
That's the only wrong place we go in our mind. Instead of saying, Hey, wait a second, maybe I need another conversation. Maybe I need to say it a little differently. Maybe I need to ask a different question, right?
We don't, we. We operate in a really inefficient way, generally when it comes to feedback, as we, we approach it in a very binary way, and it's not binary. Human beings don't grow that way.
Jerry Li: Yeah.
Jonathan Raymond: let me just say one other quick thing is if you think about your own feedback conversations, often we have the expectation, "well, they need to change this behavior"
But it's actually not true. What we're looking for is progress. We're not, we actually don't have the expectation that somebody is going to completely do a 180 on something overnight. We have the expectation and understandable expectation that they're working on it. And if they're working on it, we're going to exhale, we're going to go, "okay, they took the feedback seriously. I can't expect them to change this overnight, but they're working on it. GOOD."
That's the up check we're looking for. It's really important to to remember that we need to be clear in ourselves of what are we actually looking for when it comes to giving feedback. In most cases.
Jerry Li: Totally. and another thing I think to, to mention is when you do The Invitation stage conversation, it's a, it's an invitation, and so you ask people whether you can... You first ask other people for their permission to have that conversation first. Before I could dial in that I notice there's things are happening not just once, but there's a pattern. That's after you get agreement from the other person that it's okay to have. Yes, I want to have this conversation.
Jonathan Raymond: Yep, that's right. And you can, and you can invite them, right?
So one of the ways to conclude a mention is, "Hey, I don't actually need an answer right away. I'd actually just love for you to think about this. Can we talk about it when our next one on one, it's not urgent." Right?
If you can send the message to people by building this relationship of how we do feedback and growth on our team, whatever's happening in the larger company that you work in. For the moment. I don't care. It's your team. It's your leadership, what's within your control. You can create an environment on your team where you do feedback in a really thoughtful, methodical, and caring way, right?
And so by using The Mention and the Invitation and saying, "look, I don't need an urgent response from you"
Because if you demand or if you energize with your, with your tone or the way that you carry yourself, that you need an immediate response, you're going to get an immediate response and it's going to be a bad one. Right? It's going to be someone getting defensive or making excuses or playing victim because it's like your parents saying like, "have you done your homework yet?"
Right? You're going to get a response. It's not going to be a very thoughtful one, so why bother? Right? Like use the feedback model, The Mention, The Invitation conversation.
You're moving the conversation along. If you're trying to close it and end it, it will end, but it won't be with a productive result.
Applying The Mention & Invitation now during the pandemic
Jerry Li: How do you apply that to the earlier example we talk about?
The example of the, where a manager has a team member that you're over-sensitive might be over sensitive about the pandemic, and they want to ask for a lot of sick leave. How do you apply the second stage of the conversation, The Invitation, in that example?
Jonathan Raymond: Yeah. So, so one of the things that I would, I would offer is, it's really important to, like if you think about crisis management or PR, right? When, if there's a crisis, if there's something that's going on, a good PR person is going to, is going to advise you...They're not gonna say, "Oh, you should pretend it's not happening." Right?
They're going to advise you. There's a phrase in PR, wear it around your neck. "Hey, yes, we're aware of it. We've received the emails, we're acknowledging, we're doing some thought. We'll be back to you later with a response." Right?
You, you bring it close to yourself. Right?
So when it comes to something like a pandemic, trying to convince the person that they shouldn't be sensitive, or they shouldn't be worried where they shouldn't have anxieties is going to backfire. Because they've already communicated to you that they are sensitive and they are feeling anxiety.
So the way that you counteract that as you take a lower footing. Right? So you go underneath them and you say, "Hey, I'm, I'm getting the message. I get that you have a lot of anxiety and I, and I understand that, like, how can we have a conversation about that? Like, is it something that we can talk about?" Right?
By you going instead of trying to talk them out of it? You say, "Hey, I get it." Right?
And oftentimes we're just by you being willing to have the confidence to say, "Hey, I'm willing to talk about that." Right? "Like I'm right here."
By you being willing to do that, that alone will deescalate. And they will be able to, and they will say like, "Oh yeah. I mean, I thought I didn't realize, I thought you were going to just tell me to work harder and that I shouldn't worry about it. I really appreciate having the space to just talk about it. You know? It's, you know, sometimes I have moments where I'm really panicked about it and sometimes I feel fine."
"Okay, great. Yeah, me too."
Right. So it's like by going underneath it rather than trying to fight, don't try. If you find yourself fighting somebody for ground in a feedback conversation, stop and step back and say, "okay, wait. What's happening right now? I'm trying to convince this person of something that they don't want to be convinced of. Stop doing that."
Right, and back up and say, "Hey, I noticed this thing that's happening... This is a form of a mention... "Hey, I noticed this thing that's happening is, you know, you've been sharing some anxiety around the pandemic and you're, you know, you're obviously got a lot going on. And I find myself in this position where I'm trying to sort of convince you or talk you out of it, and I don't want to keep doing that. That's not, that doesn't seem productive."
THAT'S PRODUCTIVE! Right? Stopping doing the thing that's unproductive IS productive and that's a step that we can take as managers and leaders and by the way, as organizational leaders in the same way.
Jerry Li: Cool.
How to have "the performance conversation" - Using "the AND"
Patrick Gallagher: I have a quick follow up question, Jerry. the other, the other side of that example, and this was something that was pretty common that was shared ahead of time by the community, was sort of grappling with, at what point do you have the performance conversation? In this particular situation. Do you have any insights about how or when approach that?
Jonathan Raymond: Yeah. So you've got to make the "AND", right? So then we will, we can get into some nuance here as needed.
But I'm going to start with that conversation with the human being in front of me. Right? Cause nothing's going to go well if I don't acknowledge and try to be empathic to some degree of the person in front of me, the struggles they're facing are going to acknowledge that.
And then I'm going to try and make an, AND I'm going to say, "look, so we're, we're, we're talking about this and I know that it's not totally resolved... AND... My job as a manager is to manage the performance of this team AND to achieve these outcomes. AND, those two things are sometimes in tension, right? But we gotta be able to talk about both of those things at the same time. Is that okay? Can we do that?"
Right. And again, that permission like, of course. Right? Anybody who's at all, in a place to be able to actually functionally work is going to say, yes, I totally understand.
We've gotta be able to do both. "Okay, great. Thanks. So how can we do that? How do we have a conversation where we're acknowledging that it's difficult for you right now? That there's things going outside of work AND there are outputs that you're responsible for? Talk to me about that. How does that live for you?"
Right. And don't as the manager think that you have to solve that... "Well, here's what you need to do and blah, blah, blah."
Like that's not going to, that's going to work, right?
Just by acknowledging, "Hey, so let's have, we're going to need to have two conversations at the same time... We can do this. We're amazing human beings. We can do this. We can talk about the personal situation and we can talk about the performance. And we can do that in every one on one. Okay. Does that sound good? Great. Let's do that!"
Right? And that's the, those are the pieces there. And then, so there's a couple of other important things. Again, this depends on the organization you're in, what the guidelines are, but you probably, in most organizations, you have the ability to say to somebody, "Hey, maybe you need some time. Totally get it. Completely understand, like maybe it would just be helpful..."
One of the things I've noticed with a lot of people, but nobody's taking vacations right now, right in the last couple of months, nobody's taking them.
"Maybe just a day away would be, would be really good to recharge. What do you think?"
"You know what, that's so, you know, I didn't think we were allowed to take any days off right now because of the pandemic."
Like people come up with all sorts of reasons. Like how many people on this call have have taken a day off right? In the last six weeks or a week off, right? Mostly where did people, if you had a vacation, you canceled it, right?
Zero days off. Right. So a lot like lots of people we, we just sort of woke up and were like, "Oh my God, nobody is taking any days off right now. "
So. Ask this person, "Hey, maybe you, maybe you just haven't, you need to take a day. Like, why don't you just like, or take two days? Like, it's fine. Hey, you know what? Me too. I realize I haven't taken any days off either."
Right? So, nice. I saw someone that I took two days off to set an example. Awesome. Good job. I don't see all the comments as they're coming through. So if I didn't respond to yours it's only cause I didn't see it,
So that thing, right? If you're constantly working and you're sending emails all weekend long, you're contributing to the pandemic, right?
You're, you're doubling down on that fear and you're basically saying like, "Hey, there's, there's no clarity. There's no plan."
You know, all those kinds of things. So...
Other Stages of the "Accountability Dial"
Jerry Li: Great. I know we only have 13 minutes left and what Jonathan, I do want to go through all the other stages of the model. So can you walk us through those?
Jonathan Raymond: Yeah. So we talked about The Mention, so that's that hallway moment or the zoom moment. Hey, do you have a second?
We talked about The Invitation, which is the second step, which is. "Hey, there's a couple of things that I'm seeing. I think they might be connected. Can we talk about that?" That's The Invitation.
The next step is what we call the Conversation. The Conversation will typically happen... Especially if you're remote... It's going to probably happen in an inside of a one-on-one, which is, "Hey, we've been talking about this thing, you know, sort of walk in on a one off basis, like in the hallway, you know, virtual or real. I'd love to spend a little more time going deeper on this theme. So, you know, we've been talking about you struggling with feeling distracted in the end. Like it's really hard to focus. Can we get into that a little bit more? Like what is the impact that that's having?"
Right? And you're going to start asking some questions of them like, "what impact is that having?"
And especially during the pandemic, what I'm going to tell you is... You need to be more disciplined with your team to Delete, Deescalate, and Deprioritize unimportant things. You MUST do this.
We, we, it is not realistic to expect human beings who have never worked from home and who've never lived through a pandemic to do both of those things at the same time and perform at the level that they were two months ago. It's not realistic. It's not going to happen in any sustained way.
So that's how you. Approach the conversation is, "Hey, I get it. You show up as I get it. Two things that have never happened before. One, you've never worked from home before. Well, maybe not both for every person, but you've, for a lot of people, you've never worked from home before and you've never lived through a pandemic, right?
There's four or five people on planet earth who've lived through, you know, Spanish flu and this one, right?
So I get it. Now let's talk about the impacts. What? What's going on? Tell, let me show me the world through your eyes."
And what you will find if you ask... If you don't ask, you won't find out... Is that they will tell you they are struggling to focus.
It's not that they don't want to work hard. It's not that they don't want to perform at a high level. It's that the number of switches in their brain that are, that are typically overloaded in our already busy world are on hyper-drive right now.
I saw somebody say like, I'm taking Friday off the rest of my noggin.
Right? Like it's overwhelming the amount of information. We're all the, everybody in this community, you're really smart. You want to stay informed. You're reading all different sorts of articles. You probably read more in the last 30 days than you did in the year before that so much going on.
The conversation that third step is, "okay, what are the impacts. So that you can take ownership of this, you the employee."
"Wow. I realize I'm trying to do six things at once and four of them are really struggling. Hey, mr or mrs manager, would it be okay if I really like focused on these couple of things right now for the next...?"
"Yes, that would be awesome. That's the highest priority thing for you right now. I'm not worried about the other thing that can wait until May."
Right? That clarity, the decluttering, helping people prioritize in that conversation stuff, but it happens by you asking them questions about what are the impacts, right?
It doesn't feel... When you feel distracted or disengaged or... It doesn't feel good. Right. So by my manager kind of asking me some questions and I can go, wait a second. I don't actually like where I am either. I want to do some changing.
Rather than my manager telling me like, "stop being distracted or you've got to focus or you need to work harder!"
That doesn't work for most human beings...
Jerry Li: It's a lot of times the undesirable behavior for a given person on a team... It's not that they have the wrong intentions, that they don't just don't have the awareness of the impact.
Jonathan Raymond: That's right. Yeah. And you know, we've been talking about, I know ELC... Part of the genesis of ELC is like, Hey, these skills are critical for everybody. And engineering leaders have a, have a unique place in a lot of organizations, these skills.
You know, I think one of the things we're going to look back on and say all the things that you know, L & D folks have been talking about and organizations have been increasingly talking about, about developing people, about the importance of feedback and coaching...
It's even more now. Right? It's even more, and it's not because people have ill intent. You'll go through your whole career as a leader. You might come across two or three people in, in, you know, managing a thousand people who like come to work trying to cause problems. Most people are really good. They want to help, they want to contribute, they want to add value, but they, they're missing a piece of context. And you spending two minutes with them, can really help.
So that's the Conversation.
The fourth step in the conversation is the Boundary. And the way that I teach the Boundary is, I will, maybe I'll ask, you know, "Patrick and Jerry, give me an issue of a piece of performance, of something that you've seen on a team that you've managed. Where there was a piece of behavior that wasn't good. What was the behavior?"
Jerry Li: The quality and the consistency. Consistency of quality for a, someone imagine managing in the past that they're just not helping. Okay. And it caused problems that other team members or clients.
Jonathan Raymond: Okay. So Jerry, I'm going to ask you a question. That person, is, is exhibiting that behavior. They're not helping, they're, they're counterproductive to the team. And I'm gonna offer you an option. You, they can be on your team behaving at that level for the next 10 years. How does that sound?
Jerry Li: It's not acceptable.
Jonathan Raymomond: How about five years?
Jerry Li: That's too long.
Jonathan Raymond: How about one year?
Jerry Li: I think maybe okay. But I'm still will be anxious.
Jonathan Raymond: Okay. How? Okay. So now how about 90 days?
Jerry Li: That sound reasonable!
Jonathan Raymond: Okay, so somewhere between 90 days and a year, that's your boundary. Right? And it's important to beat, to articulate that boundary, right? That's the whole purpose of accountability and ownership is to be clear with somebody, "Hey, here's where you are. Here's where I want you to be, and I hope you will also want to be, here's what it looks like to be helpful of your teammates..."
whatever the, you know, the substance of that conversation is, and to into talk with that person and say, "Hey, what do you feel like is a reasonable time frame to make dramatic improvement in this area?"
And if they say, "Oh, you know, I think I can work on that over the next five years."
You're going to say "not good enough."
But if they said to you, "Hey, I feel like that's something that I really struggle with, but I feel like over the next couple of months I could get, if I really focus on it, I could get really better."
You're going to be happy with that. Right, you're, or at least you're going to, you're going to, you will accept that you're going to say, okay, I can work with that as long as I is there. But that's your boundary, right?
But oftentimes what managers do is the boundaries forever. Slides, right? We never actually articulate it. And we, we have this like perpetual, 180 day boundary, but we never actually say that the, that the clock started... Right?
So to articulate with this person, "Hey, we've been having this conversation mentioned invitation conversation."
And asking them, "Hey, so we've been working on this, around this theme, whatever the theme is for this person, what's a reasonable boundary?"
That's the fourth step. Ideally, it's authored by the person, but if you have to coauthor it or author it, fine. That's part of being a manager. That's part of being willing to be the one to create a situation that might have some discomfort. That's the fourth step.
And then the fifth step is what we call the Limit.
Which is the ability to say, "Hey, look, I feel like I've done everything I can do as a manager. I feel like I've, I've offered all the coaching that I know how to offer..."
And then I'll say two things about that. One is managers usually overestimate how much feedback and coaching they've actually given. And if you go into exit interviews, if you've ever sat in an exit interview and you ask the employee, they'll say things like, "I never got any feedback. I never, I was never really given a chance."
And the truth lies somewhere in between. Right? They were given some feedback and coaching, but not as much as the manager thinks they were, they were given. So that's the first thing to keep in mind. There's so index on the side of giving more feedback, more coaching. Start with the assumption that you're not giving as much as you think you are or you're not giving us clear coaching as you think you are. You haven't given it as much time.
Then the other thing is just that limit of that self care as a manager. If you have a team of 10 people and you're coaching and managing six people with mediocre or poor performance, you're creating so much work for yourself.
The purpose of the Accountability Dial is not to achieve human perfection with all 10 of those people, but it's to start to move people from where they are to get better. Right?
And the purpose of the Limit is, is oftentimes that's what we need... All the last thing I'll say... That's often what we need as human beings. We need to know that there's a limit. Right? We need to know that I don't have forever to make a change. "Hey, I feel like I'm out of options."
Okay. And that can be the most productive moment. That can be a career changing moment for somebody, for a manager with the guts to say, "Hey, look, I don't know what else to do here. You've got to find some other gear. You got to, I dunno, go talk to your brother, your sister, like go like, go think about this. Like, I don't know what else to do. I feel like we've had all these conversations and it's not that you're not trying, but it's not changing. And I don't know why."
And if you've invested in built that relationship and you've got trust, then they'll go, "Holy crap. Like, you know, I know this person has my best interest at heart. Like what am I missing?"
And they may find. Some other gear, and if they don't, well then they're probably not in the right job or in the right stage of their career to be a high performing member of your team right now. That's okay too. Teams change, people move around. Maybe they're not inspired by the product anymore, whatever! It doesn't matter.
But by you having the conversation mentioned invitation, conversation, boundary, and limit. You create the cycle on your team where people are showing up with their best and they're making those small improvements, and you'll feel so much better about life, as a manager, and you'll have so much more time. Because people are owning their stuff.
Academy.Refound.com to learn more abou t"The Accountability Dial 101" Course
Patrick Gallagher: Thank you, Jonathan. We're going to transition to some rapid fire Q&A in just a second. There'd been a couple of questions about, how do I, how do I continue on with the Accountability Dial? Jonathan has a PDF. We're going to include that in the followup email. So if you're like, well, what are all these steps? We'll send you the PDF...
But Jonathan, did you give just a quick recap of the Accountability Dial and then maybe share how people can continue to get involved to learn, to apply and to deepen their expertise within this framework?
Jonathan Raymond: So we're on a mission to get the Accountability Dial in the hands of 10 million managers in the next 10 years.
The easiest way that you can do that is go to academy.refound.com we have a video course. It's $97. You can go, you can sign up and you'll interact with a human being. There's the refound team. The Academy team is there to help you both learn and implement the steps in the Accountability Dial. So it's just the academy.refound.com or just refound.com and you'll see the button for the video course.
That's the easiest way. And then we'll help you roll it out with your team if that's something that's of interest.
Patrick Gallagher: Great. And can you recap the five steps
Jonathan Raymond: Yes, the Mention, The Invitation, the Conversation, the Boundary, and the Limit.
Patrick Gallagher: A couple of quick questions that are coming in.
So Justin asked us a question about how do you use accountability, the Accountability Dial to give positive feedback? So I know that you've, you've mentioned, to Jerry and I a couple of times, some examples of that, but I think for now a lot of people are dealing with challenges with morale.
How do you use the Accountability Dial to increase morale or give positive feedback?
Jonathan Raymond: Yeah. So one of the things that I think we forget to do is reinforce the people who are doing well, right? People who are, who are really focused right now and reinforcing that.
So in a one-to-one basis, I would say, "Hey, I know we've got a lot going on right now. I just want you to know, like I noticed like how focused you are, and I noticed how you've been picking up the Slack and I really appreciate that."
Right? That's a Mention, right!
So the, so the architecture is the same. Right. And then as you see somebody right, you're seeing the best of people and the things that they struggle with right now. That's what happens is in a crisis. People respond differently. Some people go, calm, centered, grounded, okay, this is what's within my control.
And other people freak out and it doesn't make them one good person and bad person. But using the, the Accountability Dial to reinforce...
Or with your team, "Hey everybody, I just want to say like the tone of our standup this morning was really different. It felt like there was kind of a positive. Vibe, and I know there's, I know that doesn't change. There's still a lot going on, but I really loved how, how proactive everybody was this morning. "
That's a Mention that you can use it. You don't have to solve anything. You don't have to fix anything. Just noting it and naming it is so powerful.
Patrick Gallagher: Great. Thank you. I think we have time for one more quick question.
This is something that's been talked about a lot in the chat actually. So somebody would sharing a story about how they're struggling to get a one-on-one with their manager is to, people have shared some good solutions.
But one of the big questions in the, the, the Q and a was about how do you create an environment of bi-directional feedback.
So as an engineer to a manager, how do you, how could you give feedback that way or create the environment to make that possible? Yeah. So we'll do, let's just flip that on the head of what we talked about earlier. So if as a manager. One of my strategies that is important is I got to build that relationship.
Jonathan Raymond: I have to set that context. If I'm in the more junior position, then I'm going to ask for it, right? I'm going to say, "Hey, you know, in my own learning and development, it's really helpful for me to get feedback and I'd love for that to be two way."
I've had many people. Say, "Hey, like, you know, is it just, can I give you feedback?"
And, and hopefully you work for someone who says yes, right? If you work for someone who says, no, I'm not interested in your feedback... Well you probably already started to look for another job.
But that's what I would say is I would ask and say, "look, you know, it would be really helpful, especially nowadays. It's really important for me that I could bet I get some consistent time in your calendar when would work for you?"
Right. And I've had, I've been counseling multiple people, especially key, you know, key engineers and with a couple of our clients. I said, "look, it sounds like you need more time right now with the CTO."
"Yeah, I do."
"Okay. Go and ask for it"
and say... Don't say like, "Hey, I need an hour of your time. Say I need seven minutes. Once a day. Can we do that?" Right?
"Like, yeah, great. Can we do it when I'm on my way? You know, you know what, I'm going for my morning walk or whatever?"
You got to loosen the boundaries a little bit to accomplish that. Especially, you know, during this time, you know, we're, I've got things happening in 11 o'clock at night and four o'clock in the morning or whatever it is, right? It's, you know, all bets are off right now. We've got to solve the problems that are in front of us. And so, you know, within reason within your organization and those rules.
But I would ask for it and say, you know, this is really important for me. and then, you know, we can do a whole separate conversation on how you use the Accountability Dial if you don't get what you need there of how you escalate that accountability. But we don't have time for that today.
Patrick Gallagher: Thank you so much, Jonathan.
So as a reminder, if you're looking to get into, in more involved with Jonathan's work and the Accountability Dial, feel free to visit academy.refound.com and we'll send that in a followup email as well.
But, to close would just like to say, you know, moments like this are why our community exists. And in times of great challenge, it's the people, it's the peers, and it's the knowledge sharing in forums like this that help us tackle greater challenges faster and together and meet the leadership demands of, of the moment.
Have a wonderful rest of your day and we hope you are able to open up conversations that matter. Thank you so much, Jonathan, for joining us.
Jonathan Raymond: My pleasure. Thanks everybody for all your great questions.