Episode 38

#038 - Nine Lies About Work Series: Lie #5

Published on: 26th April, 2021

Today we continue our discussion on the Nine Lies About Work book series with Lie #5 People Need Feedback.

We cover the difference between feedback and attention and why the ability to deliver effective positive and negative feedback is a cornerstone of strong leadership and management.

As leaders, it's vital that we build exceptional relationships with our team as a prerequisite to delivering performance related feedback - especially negative feedback.

We also cover 2 rules-of-thumb around feedback:

  • If you want to be a world-class performer in any discipline you need about 10 times the feedback that you're getting today or that your peer group is getting.
  • If you want your team to be world-class, you should be delivering feedback to your team at least once per day.

Thanks for joining us today and don't forget to hit the subscribe button or reach out at [email protected].


Igor Geyfman 0:05

What's going on


Robert Greiner 0:06

Just happy you could finally join us.

Igor Geyfman 0:08

Yeah. appreciate your patience. In the problem child last two sessions, but at least my audio is working right away, which is positive.

Robert Greiner 0:17

You sound really good right out of the gate.

Igor Geyfman 0:19

That's great.

Robert Greiner 0:20

Did you get the orange soda cleaned


Igor Geyfman 0:21

Yeah. Oh my god. It was so gross. Yes, but it's all squeaky clean now, although, you know, I'm sure it got like inside my mouse like in the crevices.

Charles Knight 0:31

Time for a new mouse.

Robert Greiner 0:32

Time for the new mouse. Yes.

Igor Geyfman 0:36

Yeah, except these. This mouse is like $100.

Robert Greiner 0:38

Do you have the MX Master three?

Igor Geyfman 0:40

It's the MX Master three for Mac.

Robert Greiner 0:42

Oh, nice. Okay, so it's got the same color and like materials.

Igor Geyfman 0:46


Robert Greiner 0:47

On the MacBook. That's the way to go.

Igor Geyfman 0:49

That's on my iMac Pro.

Robert Greiner 0:51

Okay. Yeah.

Igor Geyfman 0:53

Anyway, enough about that. You know what has a surprising amount of calories. Gummy Bears? Like I know, it's candy.

Charles Knight 0:58


Igor Geyfman 0:59

I know. It's like, they don't taste very sweet. Like they're lightly sweetened. Sounds like they don't have a lot of sugar. Like a package of gummy bears has four servings in it, which add up to 400 calories. Which on the back they do say share size.

Robert Greiner 1:14

So you got to save some for us.

Igor Geyfman 1:15


I don't have any friends. Or any friends that any you know,

Robert Greiner 1:19

Any physical friends.

Igor Geyfman 1:20

I don't have any physical friends.

Robert Greiner 1:21

real life friends?

Igor Geyfman 1:24

Sit here and my sadness and eat this entire share size 400 calorie bag of

Robert Greiner 1:29

There you go. Go.

Igor Geyfman 1:30


Robert Greiner 1:31

we went from real life friends to virtual friends.

Igor Geyfman 1:34

Yeah, What a bummer. real life friends are so much better.

Robert Greiner 1:37


I agree.

Igor Geyfman 1:39

We'll be real life friends soon enough. We'll be back.

Robert Greiner 1:41

You are you're like tapping your microphone or something.

Igor Geyfman 1:45

I'm adjusting it.

Robert Greiner 1:45

Okay. Okay, cool.

Igor Geyfman 1:47

Yeah. All right.

What are we talking about today?

Robert Greiner 1:50

I think we're talking line number five,

Igor Geyfman 1:52

the feedback. You're waiting for this moment?

Robert Greiner 1:54

Yeah, some things I need to get off my chest. I think on this one.

Igor Geyfman 1:58

We're gonna give you positive attention, Robert, because that's what you're thinking.

Robert Greiner 2:02

That's what I really need.

Igor Geyfman 2:03

Yes. All right. Robert, since you're, you got the hottest take on this. You want to want to kick it off?

Robert Greiner 2:08

Yeah, sure. So the lie is people need feedback. And the corresponding truth and this is lie number five of nine, is people need attention. And when you give people attention in a safe and non judgmental environment, we will come and stay in play at work. That's what they say. And so I do think that there is a undercurrent in this chapter that I wholeheartedly agree with, which is the sort of overweight of positive reinforcement. And anytime you catch your people doing something, call it out. 100% agree with that. You want people on your team, to engage in future behaviors that are effective and positive and aligned with organization and all of those things. And that's such a small adjustment to make as a leader, I think we're terrible at giving feedback. And we'll talk about that in a second. The one core thing that they hit on which I would say, if you only take one thing out of this chapter, or this conversation is like when you see somebody do something good, call it out immediately. That's such a great way to positively reinforce activity in the future. The rest of the chapter, I think we start with a I remember this kind of thing and this kind of idea in math where or in physics, right? You have this problem that's pretty meaty, right? And you make an incorrect assumption at the very beginning of the problem. And that assumption carries through to your solution, and you're way off. And I think there's something similar here where, you know, they, when they talk about feedback, I think what they have in their mind is negative criticism, not, which is different than negative feedback. If you do something that's not effective, and I talked to you about it, that's not what they're talking about here. I think they're saying, Don't criticize your people, which I could definitely get on board with, you definitely need. You need feedback on both sides of the equation, though, again, there's a balance here, you can't just go one direction. And then I'm just going to scroll to the end of the chapter, which this is the the silly part that maybe we can just move past because they say and we'll talk about what they mean by attention too. But they said the nature of your attention is key. If a team member screws something up, of course, you have to deal with it. So what like how exactly am I supposed to do that without giving feedback? What does that mean? And so the chapters are a little bit sloppy in that regard. But there are some nuggets here that we should dig into that they do have some pieces that I think are fairly solid advice. And the topic is definitely worth discussing as a group. So let's get into it.

Igor Geyfman 4:36

I, I have a hard time taking the books position on this topic, because I love feedback. And I love negative feedback. And they spend a bit of time in the beginning of a chapter making fun of all these articles that are promoting this idea of Oh, the millennial needs a lot of feedback. A lot more than eager Boomer. For your Gen X or whatever, and possibly, you know, that has to do with, especially when it's articles being printed a lot of millennials, and I guess they still are, although they're aging out, they're like really pretty early in their careers. And so you're probably earlier on your career, you're probably more open. And you're also seeking more feedback. I don't think it was a generational thing. I think back when boomers were in their 20s, and 30s, they probably also felt the same way. So it was it's one of those things that's not a generational difference. It's probably more of a life or career stage. But, you know, feedback can land very differently, depending on who's delivering it. How they're delivering it. Was was there mutual, let's say, reciprocity and permission for feedback. And one of those things, Robert, maybe even Charles, like, we were really keen on feedback, because another podcast, isn't that right?

Robert Greiner 6:02

Yeah. Manager tools.

Igor Geyfman 6:03

Manager tools, Charles? Yep. jever. Listen to the feedback episodes of manager tools.

Charles Knight 6:08

I've never I've never listened to a single episode of manager tools.

Robert Greiner 6:12

Oh, you've

Igor Geyfman 6:13

only gotten all that stuff secondhand from Yeah, Robert.

Robert Greiner 6:17

And yet, you're probably 75% aligned with the guidance, like out of the box.

Charles Knight 6:23

Yeah, that's what I've gleaned. I'm sure there's more I could learn always. But philosophically, if y'all are in alignment with them, and I'm in alignment with you then I think Yeah,

Robert Greiner 6:32

by the transitive property. transitive property. There you go.

Charles Knight 6:36

Oh, nice.

Robert Greiner 6:37


Igor Geyfman 6:37

Science, folks.

Robert Greiner 6:38

There you go. Yeah, I think that's how it works.

Igor Geyfman 6:41

Okay, the manager tools and and correct me if I'm misrepresenting this, because it's been a while since I've listened to all the episodes, probably good five or six years at this point, but they have what's called the Trinity. Does that ring a bell? Robert?

Robert Greiner 6:53

Yeah. Which is actually four things as sort of an inside joke.

Igor Geyfman 6:57

That's right. That's right.

Robert Greiner 6:59

Yeah. one on ones coaching feedback. delegation. Yes.

Igor Geyfman 7:02

Yep. Exactly. Right. delegation delegation is that fourth joke, right? That's the, but I think they also think about coaching and delegation as like two sides of the same coin. But the first thing they recommend, they're like, hey, if you do nothing else, set up one on ones with your directs, every week, half an hour, etc, etc. And they have, you know, very tactical things on how to do that. The next thing that goes into is the feedback. Okay, your team was looking for your feedback, here's how you roll out feedback. And by the way, a lot of people when they hear feedback, they think corrective feedback, or negative feedback, or they think of it as a euphemism, maybe for criticism. But Mark, and Mike, for manager tools that I came when we're starting to roll out feedback for folks only start with positive supporting feedback. So when your people are doing the right things, the right way, giving


Robert Greiner 7:57

and tell them, that's what you're doing.

It's like, I'm

gonna start rolling back. This is how it's gonna look, this is how it's gonna sound, I'm gonna ask you first and it's going to be completely 100% positive for the first What did they say three months? It's quite a bit of time.

Igor Geyfman 8:09

It's a bit of time. And they, they also say, hey, first, roll it out with your highest performers, roll it out the highest performers first and then move down. And we'll just I'll just go through it real quick, Robert, drill. Robert, can I give you some feedback? When you're patient with me, and don't fly off the handle? When I'm late to a podcast recording episode, it really makes me feel like you're an accepting part of my organization. And it makes me feel closer to you and others at the company.

Thank you.

Robert Greiner 8:40

Absolutely. Glad, I could do a

good job for you there.

Igor Geyfman 8:43

So exactly, example, positive feedback. And there's a couple parts to it first asking permission. It's a very strange thing at first, but the phrase, hey, Robert, can I give you some feedback, by the way for some people, if they haven't experienced a lot of positive feedback in their life that can send a chill down their spine?

Robert Greiner 9:00

That happened to me recently, actually. So new team, which you'll know about, and we had our first delivery checkpoint, which went really well. And right afterwards, I talked to the people on the team said, Hey, can I give you some feedback? And it was something along the lines of the way you answered this question, what really made it look like we had our stuff together, and signaled like a level of command of the details that I thought landed really well with our stakeholders. And afterwards, he said, Hey, I thought you were going to, like, tell me something bad.

Igor Geyfman 9:35

That's what happens.

Robert Greiner 9:36

But I never want I forget, because our teams churn so quickly, and I forget to reset those expectations. And so it is one of those things like I just instinctively did it. And it went well as a great discussion. It was just oh man I should have it's one of those. She'll let you know what was coming.

Igor Geyfman 9:53

You don't have to dread that phrase. And in fact, the way that you're, you're being recommended to introduce it. You're basically conditioning people to associate that phrase with something positive that's coming that way positive attention. I think that aligns very much with the chapter in this book.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah. Like, they do recommend you don't ask, like, there's a weird piece in there. But it's definitely important. And if someone says, No, I think that's a great sign because it's, it protects, like, no is a very protective word. And you could be coming up on someone who's six steps into a really meaty 10 step problem, and you don't want to knock over the House of Cards they've built up in their mind and say, No, usually means not. Now, typically, I've never experienced someone that always just says no every single time forever. And so I think it's a really good way for you to create a positive relationship experience when you say, Okay, yeah, cool. We'll talk about this later, or something and really expect that no, but it's usually not because they don't want to hear it. It's because they have something else on their mind. And when they say yes, and when you say feedback, that's a trigger word or signal that says, okay, hey, we're talking about my performance now, and then pre wired them to be in a position to hear it, because if they're not in a mindset to hear it, then you giving it is not going to be helpful.

Igor Geyfman:

Absolutely. And you really have to respect that. No, because this is a lot of times a direct telling their supervisor, no, I don't want to hear feedback from you, which for a lot of directs is really, it's a really hard thing to say, even if they're even if they're in their mind space, where they don't want to hear the feedback right now, good or bad. It's hard for folks to say no, to their supervisor, for that, in that instance. And so if they say, No, boy, they probably really mean it. And then if you just like steamroll, right over their consent, it's gonna just really, I think, tear down your relationship, and they're still not going to whatever you're trying to do with the feedback, whether reinforce good behavior, or to correct something that that needs correction, neither of those things are going to be accomplished, if you don't respect the No,

Robert Greiner:

absolutely. And I think there's the flip side of that exact same coin is, it is your responsibility as the leader of the group, to build really phenomenal relationships with your team, so that you have relationship capital to come in and give direct feedback about performance, positive or negative. And so that's a precursor. And that's why when we brought up manager tools, when they talk about one on one, it's there's nothing special about the one on one, it's just an effective way to build great relationships with your team. And so if you don't have good relationships with your team, if you're a new leader, if you have new people on the team, you really have to be careful around feedback doesn't mean don't give it. But there is an intentional, methodical, slow ish approach that goes into establishing a consistent pattern around it.

Charles Knight:

I've got a question for you. And this is what I've been chewing on. Thinking about. Since y'all talked. And Igor, I think you said, Hey, if you're giving feedback to correct a problem, or reinforce behavior, you said something like that? Do you see feedback and reinforcement as synonymous? or different?

Igor Geyfman:

Yes, I do. And, and maybe I'll break down the feedback model just a little bit more, just so you can see where it goes. So the first part is gaining consent from the person you're getting feedback to. The second part is calling out a very specific behavior. So in Roberts case, the behavior was not being angry at me, or be accepting of me.

I took the Blitz on his

Robert Greiner:


I was angry on the inside. I just didn't manifest the behavior. And what's important is that don't manifest the behavior.

Igor Geyfman:

That's right. Yeah,

yeah. Because behavior is observable, and but intention,

Robert Greiner:

and changeable.

Igor Geyfman:

observable, and change. And that's a lot of times, I think one of the examples that I like to use for this is when, and I'll use a negative example. But hey, when you're disrespectful, being disrespectful is not an observable behavior, not on its own, you have to go a little bit deeper, you have to say, when you roll your eyes when that other person is speaking, for example, you want to be as specific as possible with the behavior in your feedback. And then you talk about the outcome of that behavior. Now,

Robert Greiner:


you interrupt Igor on a podcast, he feels disrespected. And that undermines your ability to create great content with him in the future.

Igor Geyfman:

Yeah. And that outcome is something that matters to Robert, because Robert cares about creating great content with me. If you didn't care about that, we would have to think about a different outcome that we would use for the feedback that Robert does care about, because Robert may may think about, like he may not care about creating great content, care about how he's perceived by the audience. And so the outcome might be a when you interrupt Igor, during the podcast, people think you're a jerk. And they're and they don't want to listen to you. And then Roberts Oh, I better.

Robert Greiner:

I don't want to be a jerk. Yeah,

Igor Geyfman:

yeah. So you also the feedback model is very nuanced because as you're thinking through the outcome, you have to think about what matters to the person that you're giving the feedback to, not what matters to you, not what matters to the company per se,

Robert Greiner:

I'll add to that to you, you can

focus on Team objectives. Right? When you're late to a meeting, it shows that you're not a team player, or people can perceive you as not being a team player. And that causes us to start late, and we don't get as much done. And so I think you could align it with Team objectives, organizational values, things like that, because that's still even if it doesn't really matter to the person you're giving feedback to, which is less optimal, then what you said, Igor, there's still an articulation of why that's an important thing to be giving feedback on and why a change in behavior will result in in a more positive outcome.

Igor Geyfman:

Yeah, Robert is giving me feedback on the other side, we're gonna give you some feedback. When you're late to the podcast, you're letting the team down. And the team feels like, you know, the rest of the podcast team feels like they can't rely on you. Boy, like, that hits me really hard, I suppose if the same outcome was like, people think you're just a jerk, like, Okay, fine. People, you know, there's a lot of people think that I'm a jerk, I don't care about that. But as soon as you hit me with, you're letting your team down. Like that is a like straight to the gut thing. Because I'm like, I never want to let my team down. And but the behavior is the same, right?

Not being on time.

Charles Knight:

This is where I think I draw a clear distinction between feedback and reinforcement. And I wonder if what I don't know, I didn't read the books. I'm not exactly sure. Like feedback, to me is, is information about behavior that was observed and your pointing out things that you did well, or you didn't do? Well, I like that. To me, that's feedback. It's about what you get and the impact, and on or maybe not the impact, I think the reinforcement piece is about influencing future behavior.

Robert Greiner:

Ah, okay. So

Igor didn't hit the last part of the feedback model.

Igor Geyfman:

Okay, that when I gave the original feedback to Robert, I actually forgot a key line. I said the first part of it, but not the second part. So I said, Thank you. Right, hey, when you do this is what how it makes them feel this is what happens. Thank you The really correct ways. Thank you. Can you keep doing that, please? Yep, keep it going. So that little line, it thanks them. And then you say the next line which encourages future exhibition of that behavior, or if you're giving corrective feedback, you say, a line that discourages a future exhibition of that behavior,

Robert Greiner:

which is really magical, because you say something like, Hey, can you change that? And then if the behavior repeats, then you can also work into, hey, we've talked about this, you said you were going to do something about it. That's kind of things.

Charles Knight:

That's that fits what I call reinforcement, right? There's feedback, either positive or negative. You did this, you didn't do this well, and then there's positive or negative reinforcement to say, please do more of that. Please do less of that. Yeah, I'm, like overly simplistic. And I think what sometimes I think people get wrong, maybe when starting out, is not giving. I think maybe what people do. Oh, this goes back to what you said, Robert, it's like when people start to give feedback. It's really just criticism. Like it is a punishment. Yeah. That's feedback or reinforcement. Right? I can't believe you did that. Why did you do that? Or reinforcement? Yeah, that's punishment. And so once you overcome that, I think people learn to actually give feedback, but they don't reinforce. They'll say, Hey, nice job. But that's feedback on how you handled that question from the stakeholder. But without the reinforcement, it doesn't necessarily help to influence and change future behavior, which is where the reinforcement piece comes in either positive or negative. But none of that is punishment. None of that is harmful. And I think maybe that's what the book is trying to attack is oftentimes, people are harsh, and people get defensive, and so on and so forth. But yeah, I like the What did you call it the feedback model, the Trinity or whatever it sounds?

Robert Greiner:


that's part of the trinity, right? feedback as part of their, like, really, their claim to fame is that the manager tools Trinity, and one of Oh, one leg of that is feedback got, which I've been using for a decade now. It's been so helpful, because it takes the awkwardness it's a little awkward when you first start just like any new skill you're learning, it is so fundamentally different from anything that you would do by default, that it takes some practice, but I tell you what, it's been a very consistent tool in my tool bag that has helped me take some of the, the mystery and awkwardness of situations that can very easily go sideways. Even if you're sometimes if you're talking about positive performance, which is a paradoxical thing. But when you have to go in and address negative, performance, negative, ineffective behaviors, there's a repeatable model for it, it's very consistent, you can practice it, you can get better at it. And it focuses on what your direct does in the future. It doesn't try to contemplate the why behind it or what they were going through, you can generally just assume people are trying to do the right thing, had a bad day, had a bad performance, did something wrong, didn't have the right skills, whatever, you hone in on what the outcome was asked to be had that reinforcement piece later. And it's just a it's a nice thing to be able to lean on as a leader at any level.

Charles Knight:

So this is good. I now wonder, you said the The truth is that people need attention. Is that

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, look so. So real quick, I do want to point one thing out, and then we can get into that, what I would never say and Igor, I'm totally thrilled that you were late to the podcast, because you were late, because you were working on a very important client meeting. I'm not mad at you. But what would be very inappropriate for me to think or draw the conclusion to is that Igor was late because he's a bad person doesn't care. You can't attribute intent and feelings and project your own opinions on the state of mind of the other person, regardless of what their behaviors are. You really just have to address the the concrete, observable things, you can't say, Igor is a bad person, he or doesn't care, Igor has a bad attitude. Those don't work like you. We're not smart enough. We don't have all the context required, or have the training required to make an assessment like that. So you should definitely stay away from attributing intent. When you're thinking about giving feedback to your team.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, makes total sense.

Igor Geyfman:

And the focus on the future, because like, you can't undo me being late, like I was late, and it was already happened. And especially that last line, that reinforcement line, it focuses on what to do in the future, not so much making somebody feel bad about what they just did, let's say, we can have positive outcomes in the future with different behavior, rather than feel bad about what you just did. I think that's a pretty big distinction in the feedback model.

Robert Greiner:

Yep. And so then they talk about it attention. And this is gets a little nuanced. Because as part of the engagement surveys, and we've all felt this, I think we know this is true. managers, leaders that ignore their team, have the worst engagement ever, that's kind of the worst thing you can do is just ignore everybody. And so they talked about feedback as it relates to criticism, and that's bad, ignoring your people's bad, how can you give attention then, and focus on the positive things and really beat around the bush on the negative things so that your team feels understood and heard and wants to stick around? And so this is where things go off the rails a little bit? Because it's one sided?

Igor Geyfman:

Yeah, can I pause here because this is, I think, where I had the biggest tension, I'll just give an example of something that happens a lot. So let's say we're doing like a presentation, like some sort of sales presentation. And after the sales presentation, I will always ask the team for their feedback. And as they're giving me, let's say, positive feedback, okay, the slides looked amazing, right? Like they, which they always do job, they always do a good job of communicating the message, you know. And so giving some positive feedback. And I don't know if this is just me, and this is what why I wanted to bring up this tension. Because I don't know if this is felt by Igor, this is felt maybe by broader audience, but I'm like, I don't care. I just don't care about that. Yes, okay, fine. Sounds great. I want to hit fast forward. And I'm like, I want the critical feedback,

Robert Greiner:

I see what you're saying, I don't feel the same way as you. But I do really want constructive negative feedback, whatever you want to call it, I'm fine. Calling it negative feedback. I want that if I get too much of it too frequently, or in a compressed amount of time, I do get a little peeved a little annoyed. I think I and I like attention. So I think I need a healthy balance. I could handle probably more negative feedback at this point in my career than I could at the beginning. But I definitely want I want to mix and I like hearing when I did things right. And someone notices that you put a lot of craft and thought and attention into the aesthetics and the flow of your presentations. There are a cut above everything else that I see. And so it's cool sometimes to hear, hey, you put in some extra effort here, I noticed how you delivered this tough message or how you presented it in front of an audience. That's cool for me to know. So I don't quite feel the same way you do. But I wouldn't I would not want and it's not healthy to only get positive feedback.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, I think for me, it depends. If I'm working on something, if I'm trying to learn and grow in an area, and I then I want Yeah, very specific. Charles, you need to do this in order to get better at that. And if somebody starts with, Oh, you did all these other things really so well, like I want to hurry through to the you know, give me the feedback on the thing that I'm working on quickly, because that's all I really care about. So in that way, I'm like you Igor. But if I'm Just doing my thing. And I'm not really actively trying to improve in a particular dimension, it is very appreciated. And I like relish in it, if somebody goes out of their way to say, Hey, I noticed you're doing this thing. It's awesome. Keep it up. So I need both. I need both. And I react very differently depending upon if I'm laser focused on trying to improve something, then I want feedback. But if I'm not, and I'm just doing my thing, then occasionally I would I like recognition and acknowledgement that what I'm doing is good and valuable. Does that make sense?

Igor Geyfman:

Makes a lot of sense. And I think Charles, I really contextualize what I said, I, I'm in exactly the same, like situation. Like where I want a lot of critical feedback, is the areas where I'm, like, really trying to learn and grow into the example I gave just happens to be one of those areas, I want to continue to be much better, like, I want to be better every time I do the next presentation. Like I still feel like I have a long way to go. And so in that situation, I

very much want the corrective feedback. I don't want they talk about like the feedback sandwich and heard about that.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, yeah.

Igor Geyfman:

Where it's a you book and like positive feedback, then you criticize, and then some more positive feedback. And especially when I that's a terrible idea that I'm like, Oh, my God,

are you serious?

Charles Knight:

What's terrible? I was taught that in Business School. Yeah, like that. Was that was considered good practice.

Robert Greiner:

by people who've never

lead a team before. Yeah, that's such a bad idea. Yeah,

Charles Knight:

yeah, it's seen as really bad.

Igor Geyfman:

Let me confuse you with signals.

Robert Greiner:

We're so conditioned that even if you give, I've had situations before where it's like, Hey, here's some positive feedback. And so I was waiting on the other shoe to drop it where I asked if I could give feedback, and they're bracing for for something bad. And then other situations where I gave positive feedback, and they're like, waiting on the other for the other shoe to drop. And for me to get to what I originally wanted to say. And were surprised when I was like, Nope, that's it like, good job. And so, yeah, we've

really done a number on our teams and people in going heading into the jobs they're currently in,

Charles Knight:

in aggregate, though, like over the course of a review cycle, for example, especially when least when I write reviews, I do try to be balanced, and that there's a combination of positive feedback and negative feedback. But so I think there is a, I think you said this earlier. So you can't just have all positive, there has to be a balance. And I think you just have to tailor the degree to the individual, and the need to correct the behavior. If there is a professionally detracting behavior that must be corrected before they can get recommended for promotion. You better be really clear about that. And not one,

Robert Greiner:


would have needed to talk to them about it a dozen times before and they should know it's coming. Well, I think what we're talking about here is timely stuff. So like, same day, same week, the performance review side, I think we're going to hit on lie number six. So that's a little out of the discussion. But I do agree with you.

Charles Knight:

I do think it's interesting, because when I heard y'all talk about attention, like people just want attention, it's okay. Why do people want attention? Like people are generally I think they crave some sort of attention, others more than than Robert, I think you probably would say you crave more attention, then

maybe I do.

Robert Greiner:

That's quantitatively true.


Charles Knight:

They're quantitatively true. Okay. So I'm trying to I'm trying to dig deeper into why they said, attention. That's okay. That means somebody is looking at the things that I'm doing. And I don't know, I don't, I'm just curious as to why they landed on attention. Because I think if I want to get somebody's attention, I'm actually thinking about my kids, too, who are very attention seeking, rightfully so based off of their stage in growth and development. A lot of times they want, like validation. Like, they want to know that I'm important, or they are important to me, and they want me to hear what they have to say. And so I just don't know, I'm trying to see if that fits in the professional world, are people wanting validation that they are either doing good things or that they have room to improve, and that's why they seek attention,

Robert Greiner:

or I was hoping we didn't go down this path we can. It's just like they have this weird analog to the new generation is much more wired into social media and they need the the real time like, thumbs up to keep going. I'm using my words, not theirs. But there's a bizarre analog there. And then there's another sort of example of Tom Landry has a great football coach, when he took over an underperforming team came in and only replayed film, but said, Hey, like that that movie you made right there. That was like really good. That's world class. And he only focused on the positive. And so they combine those two examples to come to the conclusion that feedback is terrible. So I think feedback in and of itself is a form of attention like your people definitely need your time and energy and thinking about them and their improvement and their contributions on the team. I'm not arguing that it's just I don't, these two things are not in the same class of thing. And so it's hard to talk about attention and feedback. Like together,

Charles Knight:

I think

it's maybe there's a kind of a step by step almost like a Maslow's hierarchy. Like at its base, our team members need attention from us, like period. Now, once you start to give your attention, and you're paying attention you're attending to them, then I think naturally, feedback flows pretty easily. Yeah, once you know back is and and then once you do that, then it becomes the next progression is the the reinforcing either positive or negative reinforcement. I don't know, that's at least how I'm trying to connect those three things.

Robert Greiner:

I would say

that's the job of relationships and building relationship building and one on ones. Like that's not really real. It's in the same zone, but not really related to feedback. That's the pre work you do, to, frankly, earn the right to give feedback from a relationship from a human perspective to your team.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, if you give feedback to somebody that you've never spoken to me, like, what the heck, where's this coming from? Who are you? Yeah, yeah, I could see that.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, I was at a restaurant with a dear friend. And he actually talked, said to the waitress, something was something came out wrong, or there was something something off and he goes, Hey, some feedback for you is this. And she looked like she was gonna cry. And when she left, she goes, he goes, did you see that? I came off like a jerk, like, I wasn't trying to be a jerk, I really was, like, genuinely interested in this person trying to help them. And Kim Scott has a book called radical candor, where in order to give to have a really critical conversation with someone and have it land appropriately, you need to challenge directly, which he did, he was very direct in his challenge. And it was soft enough that if you had the relationship with the person, that would have been fine. But you also have to show that you care personally, and that he did not do that. And so again, in this case, in your head, you weren't being a jerk, because you care, but you didn't demonstrate that you cared. And so you actually were, in this situation, bizarrely enough to this person, you were a jerk to her. And I think there's that element. That's where it all comes back to relationships. That's a foundational piece. So I do actually what you said, Charles, thinking about this, like a hierarchy, the foundational element is relationships. And if you don't have that, then all of this is going to backfire on you. Even if you try to get positive feedback

Igor Geyfman:

in the manager tools model is why you start with one on ones, you don't start with feedback, you hold feedback, implementing the feedback model until you build up sufficient amount of relationship with your team through the one on one method. And then you hold back coaching and delegation until you build up enough trust with your team with the feedback model. They all build on one another in that way.

Robert Greiner:

So I'd like to make two assertions, three assertions to y'all and want to get your reaction, they're going to be a little maybe tongue in cheek or on the provocative side. But I think that if we're in agreement with this could be our first rule of thumb, like the wanna grab coffee feedback rule of thumb. And maybe we create rules of thumb over time for leaders. So I think this holds true, I want to get your take on it. If you want to be a world class performer. In any discipline, you need about 10 times the feedback that you're getting today, or that your peer group is getting. If you want your team to be world class, you should be giving everyone on your team feedback once per day. I don't meet these standards. That's the third sort of assertion. Like I do think, though, it's something to aspire to. And that's the right level of granularity to think about when you're thinking about feedback.

What do y'all think?

Charles Knight:

yeah, I don't react negatively to that. Yeah. Yeah, I don't I think that's I don't think that's provocative. I think it is aspirational. I think depending upon the team that you have and stuff like that. I think that's really where the progression really for me, the challenge is attention. My attention is fragmented across so many different things, so many different teams that to do what you just described once a day, would require more attention. Yeah. And it's doable

Robert Greiner:

scalability problem.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, yeah, it's doable. But yeah, something would have to give

Robert Greiner:


then it could be as a leader, you need to be giving three pieces of feedback every day, or something that you could calibrate that I'm sure to your situation. But you definitely there are days that go by where I don't give anyone feedback. And I think that's a missed opportunity. Because if I was paying better attention, if I was more present, as a leader, there would be things to address.

Charles Knight:

I agree. And I think what I was thinking about is I gave a new manager that spinning up a team, for me some positive feedback the other day, and it felt good. For me, it felt good for me to give that feedback to them. Because I imagined I guess I was I gave it over slack. So it wasn't face to face or a zoom or anything like that. And it felt really good though. And I think there is a little it's not just altruistic in terms of you got to give feedback to people, because they need it to grow, and they want it. But it's also good for me to, you know, because when I deliver positive feedback to people, it feels good. But if I deliver negative feedback and the corresponding reinforcement, it helps them be better in their jobs, which helps me be better in my job. There's a reciprocal kind of nature to giving feedback, which Yeah, I like that.

Robert Greiner:

This is why I love talking to you about this, because you have hit with the reasoning behind doing this, whether you are people focus or task focus, you actually may not care about the people on your team are, what they have going on in their lives, or what how what their well being is, it's not an optimal way to behave. If you don't, you could still could and should still give feedback, because it helps you get what you want. So even if you're completely selfish, these are helpful. behaviors. Yeah, but on the flip side, and what what I resonate with, and what I'm hoping most or all of our listeners resonate with is, yeah, you're helping humans around you be better at their craft better at their job, be better at the thing that they spend more time doing in their life than they spend with their families. In most cases, that's a big deal. And so any incremental improvement that you can be a part of the making is carries a wide ripple effect of the course of a career across several people.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, well said, I like it.

Robert Greiner:

So one, one last thing I had just on my notes going into this, we are terrible at giving feedback. As humans, we are inconsistent about it. managers, leaders typically don't give feedback near enough, where if you think about other world class performers, like professional athletes is just an easy one, they play in more fixed systems. But the amount of feedback that goes into a professional soccer player or football player or a tennis player, they have all sorts of data and metrics. And when you're hitting your forehand on this side of the court against this person who hit backspin, this is what you can tweak to get a little bit of an edge, it's just a crazy amount of feedback, we basically get no feedback compared to some of these other world class performers. So if you want to be world class at your craft, that's going to take practice, that's going to take negative feedback that's going to take people smarter than you better than you more experienced than you feeding information into your performance so that you can make adjustments, not just on the good things. And if you're listening, and you realize that you don't give as much feedback as you could or should join the club. Like we're all in the same boat. We're fully bought into this and we still fall short. I do think they're being a little bit aspirational, but how much feedback you want to give what would make lots of pay huge dividends in the future, providing you build the really good enough relationships with your team to create a foundation where the feedback is heard and acted upon, in a healthy way.

Charles Knight:

I just had a thought that maybe is another episode. Or maybe it's addressed in the feedback model. But I just reflecting on our conversation that were recorded. Before this one around, what does it mean to be an executive? Again, I still get feedback. I've got an executive coach, and I've got mentors and coaches. Again, I get fractional attention from them, just because that's a scaling problem. But I also give myself feedback. And I don't know if that's weird, or not. But one of the things that I try to coach and mentor people on is that they need to get better at giving themselves feedback, as opposed to exclusively getting it from others around you, which I think is perfectly appropriate when you're first starting out in your career. Because you're not exactly sure what good looks like. But I think by the time you get to being an executive, there's got to be a level of introspection, and measuring yourself against what is good and not good to be able to identify feedback for yourself, and maybe even reinforce you know those behaviors yourself as well. Does that sound crazy to y'all?

Or does it sounds crazy

Robert Greiner:

when you say give myself feedback. But I think in the root, it's not when you said introspective that made a lot more sense. And that also will help you target how you go ask for feedback, because a lot of times people aren't just going to offer it to you. But if you say, hey, how did my slides look? When we had this presentation I felt like I was not on the top of my game. My messaging wasn't coherent, and they were ugly. What do you what do you think about that? And it will give some permission and focused attention on Oh, yeah. Or what's even better is if you're working on something, hey, before we go into this, we we check and count how many times I say Um, and then let me know. But I do think going and replaying scenarios, situations in your mind and thinking through how you might have handled it differently. And having that introspective mode is a key part of improvement, especially when there's maybe not someone around to give you that feedback.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, yeah. I like that. Yeah, it reminds I did that the other day and like I came out of a meeting, and I thought I was like, You know what, I may have been too direct with that statement. So then I reached out to somebody else who was in the meeting and I got there, I asked for their feedback. So I think that's Yeah, I didn't realize that's what I was doing. But thanks for that

Igor Geyfman:

I think I would just call that reflection, like self feedback.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, that's a good Yeah. reflection.

Igor Geyfman:

I like that. And, and the more seasoned you are, the more experience you have. Probably the better and more accurate your reflection is going to be. I think that's what you're pointing out, Charles?

Charles Knight:

Yeah. Yeah. I think it is a skill. Yeah. I think it's a skill for sure. I can I offer something this is completely tangential.

Robert Greiner:


Charles Knight:

real quick before it. There's something that you said Robert, earlier, we're about, hey, you can't assume because Igor showed up late to the podcast recording that he's just a terrible human being. Right?

Robert Greiner:

Yeah. Yeah.

Charles Knight:

It made me think of, there's a principle or rule of thumb that I've learned. It's called handlines. razor. Have y'all ever heard of that? So here it is. Never attribute to malice, that which is adequate, adequately explained by stupidity. And then I've also heard versions of stupidity or buisiness. Yeah, it's like, we get so offended when somebody does something, that we think that they're doing it on purpose, or that they're evil, or that they're lazy, or whatever, when in fact, they probably just forgot, or they didn't know any better, or any number of reasons. And that was always a funny, but useful kind of rule of thumb. It's inspired by acoms razor. Yeah, you probably know that. Y

Robert Greiner:

I like how it says stupidity. Because the nuance there is we're all stupid every day when we have when we split our attention. So there are meetings, I show up to where I'm not fully present. And so you're only getting the dumbest 10% of my brain in that meeting, of course, I'm going to do something stupid doesn't mean I'm, I'm stupid, or you should think I'm stupid, or maybe I am. But we do behave stupidly, when we only allocate like a distracted part of our brain towards a problem. And I think assigning jumping to the conclusion where you assign malice or mal intent to that is not a healthy behavior.

Igor Geyfman:

Robert, I've wondered, like, maybe recently, because of all the zoom, and meetings, are we better off just saying no, to requests of our time, or the meetings where we know were going to just be giving our 10 dumbest percent of our brain

Robert Greiner:

100% I think if you're not going to be present in a meeting, you should not show up, and or find someone to replace you or decline or whatever, don't just bail last minute, but I think you should not be going to meetings where you're not needed to be fully present. And if you're needed to be fully present, you're not that's a separate problem. But I do agree it's harder to do in practice. I think we all find ourselves in those situations. But yeah, I do agree you should just not go.

Igor Geyfman:

I think just using reflection, Charles, I think I've just found lately, during the pandemic, that I probably attend twice as many meetings where I'm distracted in some sort of way, where before maybe was 5% of my meetings, that today, it's probably 10% of my meetings. And the other question goes, do I need to reframe? So I give more? Or is it really something that I should just be saying no to outright?

Robert Greiner:

As long as you're not saying no to podcast recordings?

Igor Geyfman:

That's very useful feedback.

Robert Greiner:

Thank you. Thank you.

There you go.

Charles Knight:

Well played Robert.

I was gonna say something serious. But now it's, oh,

Robert Greiner:

You can say something serious. That's fine.

Charles Knight:

That's not serious. It's just I was gonna, I was reflecting on my meetings, Igor. And I think I don't find that happening. And I think it's because more and more of my meetings because I'm an I'm in way more meetings now than I was pre pandemic, but more of them are one on one meetings, as opposed to team meetings, which are the ones where, like, I may not be leading it, I likely I'm not leading that meeting, and so I can check out and come frazzled.

I just I was like, I

don't have that luxury here. Why is that? And it's because I'm there mainly one on one, so I'd have to be on? Yes. And but there are certainly times where I'm like, Hey, I know we're here. I forgot why can you catch me up on what we discussed last time? I do that all the time, which, you know, I wish I didn't. And but I certainly experienced more of that. It's like we've got this recurring thing. I know we got this thing going on with there's a theme to what we've been discussing. I just I have forgot, like catching back up. And then Normally, I can get right into it. But yeah, they're oftentimes aren't like why are we here? What's the purpose

Igor Geyfman:

and not like in a bad way?

in inquisitive curious way?

Charles Knight:

Yeah, yeah, let's just let's be to be efficient. If it's chit chat, let's chit chat. I love chit chat. Sometimes people want to get right to the heart of things too. And that's fine. Yeah. Just in these days. there's just not a lot of room for that over zoom because a lot of that chitchat used to happen over lunch or at the coffee machine or in the hallways or on a walk or grabbing coffee or, and yeah, that's it. Yeah, someday we'll be back face to face.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah. Can't wait more often than not. I had a great conversation with y'all today. I thought it was good.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, same

Robert Greiner:

chapter. If I could sum it up in one word, I think it's just lazy. I just wasn't that impactful. They're pointing kind of pointed at the right in the right space, they have some cautionary things which are okay. The thing about focusing on positivity first makes sense. But there's a lot of nuance in there. And if you took this chapter at face value, I think it could do a lot of harm. We recommend you just go and check it out manager tools, if you're wondering about how to be really good at giving feedback, hopefully what we offer that was helpful, and we'll talk about line number six next week. Yeah.

Charles Knight:

Awesome. Thanks, guys.

Robert Greiner:

great talking to you.

Igor Geyfman:

Great talk to you.

Robert Greiner:

That's it for today. Thanks for joining and don't forget to follow us on Twitter @wannagrabcoffee or drop us a line at [email protected]

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About the Podcast

Wanna Grab Coffee?
Join us for weekly discussions about careers, leadership, and balancing work and life.
A podcast about all of the topics we discuss during our mid-day coffee breaks. We bring you stories, thoughts, and ideas around life as a professional, leadership concepts, and work/life balance. We view career and leadership development as a practice that spans decades and we are excited to go on this journey with you.