Communication Leadership skills Organization

Four Kinds of Feedback in an Excellent Organization

Why does an organization exist? In essence, to produce something, whether that is a product or a service. And in order to exist in the future, this production needs to be sustainable. It means providing high quality products and services at a reasonable cost (to the organization, the employee, the environment, and society). Two of the most important aspects in the organizational equation are the cost and the productivity of your personnel. As an organization, you want everyone to perform and produce optimally. You limit the cost side of the equation by ensuring a low staff turnover, low absenteeism, and stimulating (organizationally) proactive behaviors. And you improve performance by focusing on motivation, especially intrinsic motivation.

Sustainability is the key

When it comes to personnel, an emphasis on sustainability and sustainable employability is necessary. The sustainable qualities a team member brings to the table in a 21st century organization boil down to:

  • Analytic qualities
  • Creative qualities
  • The ability to organize
  • The ability to influence, including relationship-building skills

Challenge, facilitate, support

Analytic and creative qualities have both a general and an expertise-specific part to them, whereas the remaining two qualities are more general in nature. Part of a leader’s task is to challenge a team member to broaden the boundaries beyond the comfort zone they work in, and simultaneously, to facilitate and support the team member in this endeavor.

How does feedback fit into the sustainability picture?

The general problem with peer feedback is that it often feels like (or is) an excuse to lecture a colleague. When a leader stimulates team members to give each other feedback, what is he or she really asking? And why? When a team member isn’t functioning, for example, whose responsibility is it to address this issue? Feedback becomes interesting when it helps broaden a team member’s four sustainability qualities. The feedback team members really require is the knowledge that what they produce meets expectations, and that the way they produce their results is sustainable—for themselves, for team resources, and for organizational resources.

This means four different kinds of feedback are necessary.

Meeting end-user expectations

The obvious persons to ask for feedback regarding end-user expectations are the end-users themselves, perhaps using interviews or questionnaires with standardized questions regarding quality, service, and support, for example. Ideally, the organization’s quality controller should give feedback, too, or an expert who is able to assess the delivered product or service and suggest improvements. The focus should be on mastery, as discussed in a previous blog.


This region is about stimulating the four sustainability aspects above (analysis, creativity, organizing, and influence) and is a task for both the team leader and the human resources department. An ideal strategy is transformational leadership, supported by good career development, via coaching by the HR-department. Under organizing skills, you should also help the team member consider their own personal resources in terms of time and energy: does the energy expended balance the energy their work gives them (burn-out prevention)?

Team resources

These days, products and services are seldom the result of individual endeavors—they are the result of collaboration. In the first instance, it occurs with the own team members; but intra-organizational and sometimes even extra-organizational collaboration may be involved as well. Feedback gathered from collaborators is the ideal source, yet the way it is collected should preferably be via anonymous questionnaires. Subjects questioned could include relationship skills, how they rate the team member’s expertise, accuracy and timeliness, for example. The main reason to use anonymous data is to prevent feedback from either being a pat-on-the-back on one extreme, to a dressing-down on the other end of the scale. Anonymity increases the chance for honest answers, which provides an accurate form of feedback. Who should discuss the results with the team member? Probably an independent coach from the HR department, or the transformational leader who is able to keep the focus of the conversation on mastery and sustainability.

Organizational resources

In terms of organizational resources, feedback may be as simple as statements of actual costs versus budget, or some other way of determining whether the expended organizational resources match with the delivered product or service. The team or project leader is probably the person to give this kind of feedback.

Needless to say, none of these forms of feedback are one-offs. Rather, they are a continuous stream of information to aid the team member in being excellent, developing themselves, and remaining sustainably employable. The trick is to find the balance between too little and too much, and that it isn’t a chore or something needing to be ticked off the to-do-list.

Note: This post originally ran on the Lead Change Group site on the 9th of December, 2019.

Communication Leadership skills Organization People skills

The Two Myths of Change

What makes a leader successful? In essence, it’s all about influence. Whatever your leadership style, the nature of your organization, etc., you as leader want to influence your team members to do the things that are good for your organization and the things that are (even) better for the organization, thereby making it an excellent organization.

Having influence means the ability to actually change the behavior of your team members. So if it’s all about change, what makes change so tricky to effectuate? I believe there are two myths that block many an attempt to influence team members.

Communication Leadership skills

Leadership and dialogue

I often hear (about) leaders in organisations mumbling things like, “We need to get the dialogue going on the subject of . . .” Sounds good, doesn’t it? But what do we mean when we say dialogue? Is it just a hip way of saying we should talk to coworkers?

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Dealing with difficult team members

Picture this: as a leader, you’re a real go-getter. And then there’s that team member who always needs to analyze everything to death before finally getting into action. And the other one who is such a perfectionist that they never get the job finished. Why do these co-workers manage to get under your skin? And more importantly, how do you deal with your irritation?

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The Key to Sustainable Performance

As an organization, as a leader, sustainable performance is key to build and maintain an excellent organization. Sustainable performance means coworkers do excellent work without falling into the traps of burnout or workaholism. Sustainable performance means your organization efficiently and effectively provides quality products and services, is blessed with low absenteeism and low staff-turnover. All of this is good for the bottom line.

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Feedback Loops for Excellent Interpersonal Communication

Good performance is good for the organization; it promises quality results in the future. It’s about more than only the outcome: how the result was attained in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, and collaboration is equally important. Performance feedback entails it all: information on how and how well a task has been executed. In this post I deal with how to let coworkers know their effort is meaningful, good, or excellent.

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Excellent interpersonal communication requires a safe environment

Colleagues need to feel free to tell each other what they observe and from their expertise make critical comments, without chopping heads off or having their own heads chopped off. Safety also lays the basis for positive relations with one another. So how do you create safety?

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Never, ever sandwich your feedback!

When you order a sandwich, is it about the two slices of bread or what’s on the sandwich? The sandwich technique for feedback is a way to package something unpleasant: First start with something positive, then the criticism and round off with something positive. The negative stuff is sandwiched between the good stuff. Sounds good, so why do I say: Never, ever use this technique.

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Achieving Excellent Interpersonal Communication

Without communication, no organization. An organization’s achievements are directly and indirectly influenced by interpersonal communication. This is true in all three directions: top-down, horizontally, and bottom-up. If you want an excellent organization, you will need excellent communication and, by extension, excellent interpersonal communication. But why? And what do you need to do to implement it?

Communication Leadership skills People skills

Using Resistance to Lead Effectively

If you truly understand resistance, you seldom need to deal with it: You manage its cause before it even manifests itself!

Understanding resistance

The leader understands the source of resistance and deals with it adequately. Some typical sources are: