Give Feedback on the Real Issue: Part One

I notice that every couple of months I find a concept that I become so obsessed with that it makes it into all of my webinars, presentations, trainings, and workshops – whether I’m talking about public speaking, dealing with conflict and/or difficult people, or work-life integration. This fall, I’m pretty sure that concept is going to be the growing epidemic of giving feedback on the wrong issue.

There are 3 key reasons that a person is under performing and is in need of feedback. It doesn’t matter whether said under performance is in the workplace, a romantic relationship, a professional association, or anywhere else. The source is either:

1. Lack of knowledge

2. Lack of engagement

3. Inter-or-intra personal conflict

The problem is that we typically give feedback on the symptom rather than the source of the under performance. As a result, we try to give people more knowledge (i.e., rules, training, and so forth) when the person knows everything s/he needs to know but either is disconnected from role (which again can be one’s role as an employee, lover, citizen, or anything else) or is having a problem with one or more peers or perhaps with his/her own self-identity (more on this next week.)

A quintessential example of giving feedback on the wrong issue happens with so many of my well-intentioned companies who employ a large percentage of young professionals. Typically, the script reads as follows:

  • Enthusiastic young employee reports to work full of enthusiasm for role.
  • Young employee goes from little-to-no-knowledge of how to perform job function to basic competence within 1-2 months.
  • Within 3-6 months, young employee plateaus in performance.
  • Within 6 months-1 year, young employee starts to regress, i.e., makes careless mistakes, misses deadlines, and so forth
  • Direct supervisor starts to give employee more information.
  • Young employee continues to under perform.

The under performance persists because the problem here isn’t a lack of knowledge. If it were, the employee would have never performed well in the first place. If someone has ever performed his/her role well, irrespective of context, s/he has all of the information required. The worst thing that can happen for him/her is to have the symptom addressed at the expense of going to the real source – lack of engagement or a relationship issue.

To revisit the script above, let’s imagine that this young employee is starting to make careless mistakes and her well-intentioned but misguided supervisor starts telling her how not to make mistakes when the real issue is a relationship one. For our purposes, this employee is walking on eggshells around a team member who unnecessarily lashed out at her. As a result, she is also self-sabotaging by questioning her competence and continuously replaying the blow-up in her head.

Until both relationships are repaired – the one with the co-worker and the one with herself – this young employee is going to continue to under perform. And unfortunately, the more her supervisor tries to teach her back to competence, the more that the source of the problem will metastasize.

As you think about the person or people in the various facets of your life who are driving you bonkers, unpick your assumptions about why they are behaving as they are. Ensure that whenever you give input or make suggestions that it’s addressing the real issue. And most importantly, if you aren’t sure what’s going on at the source, underneath the behaviors you are witnessing, ask!

Opt In Image
Get on the Obstacles Into Opportunities list

You will receive my weekly-ish heart-centered, high-impact communication and leadership tips, videos, freebies and event specials delivered straight to your inbox. Be on the lookout for my 7 Biggest Obstacles to Success and the Sinfully Simple Formula to Shift Them Into Opportunities. Once you confirm your subscription, I'll send it over so that you can start taking action NOW.

This entry was posted in Coaching, Communication, Leadership and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Influencer Academy

    Alexia Vernon

  • Are you ready to step into the success that is your birthright?

    Subscribe to my weekly-ish Obstacles Into Opportunities and receive my 7 Biggest Obstacles to Success and the Sinfully Simple Formula to Shift Them Into Opportunities to start busting bigger moves in the world NOW!


  • Alexia’s Books & Products

  • Sample Praise for Alexia

    “Alexia is one strong woman helping women to achieve their goals.”
    Ronnie Cho | The White House Office of Public Engagement

    “I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am for what you were able to do to help me with my public speaking abilities! You have my eternal gratitude for finally getting me over my near-paralyzing fear of speaking.”
    Tanya Murray | Realty Executives of Nevada

    "Alexia is unlike any other speaker or presenter I’ve ever seen. She embodies the very best of her generation and showed me a range of strategies I can use in preparing my students to be leaders in the workplace.”
    Dr. Joseph Bonnici | Central Connecticut University

    "Alexia is revolutionizing how we prepare nurses for the demands of the workplace in Nevada. She truly understands how to grow a new generation of ethical, high-impact communicators and leaders.”
    Doug Geinzer | Southern Nevada Medical Industry Coalition

    “Alexia is a tremendous coach and speaker. 100% of our group in post surveys commented that the workshop was valuable and uplifting.”
    Kristen Baldwin | Step Up Women’s Network

    "What I love and appreciate about Alexia is her ability to pinpoint your style and strengths as a communicator as well as the little nuances that get you in the way of your power. She gives you very detailed ways to make new changes and enhance your natural communication style."
    Christina Ambubuyog | I Love Intuition