Growth Leadership Program Management

Good Authority: Effective Feedback and 1:1s w/Refound’s Jonathan Raymond

This morning, I had the opportunity to attend a taste of a Refound‘s Good Authority workshop with Jonathan Raymond and Dane Johnson. The majority of the group attending were Human Resources leaders, and I appreciated all the perspectives that were shared.

The work is based on Jonathan’s book, Good Authority, and this taster was focused on how to give effective feedback and have effective 1:1 interactions. One of the major tenents is that an “organization’s responsibility is to improve the lives of its employees” and the quote from Margaret Wheatley “very great change starts from very small conversations, among people who care.”

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The parts of their mission that really resonated with me was their viewpoint on 1) accountability and how it can be used for growth, and not punishment and how 2) personal and professional growth are one thing, not two. The first one because accountability is critical to project management and the second because it helped me see another way to shape conversations with team members to bridge personal and professional growth.

There was also the acknowledgment that we all come to work with some kind of trauma with people in authority who did not treat us well. As leaders, we need to be mindful of that and how it shows up in our tone of voice and the energy from where we converse.

There is also the situation where organizations think that they have accountability, but if there isn’t any consequence, that’s not accountability. That’s not helping an employee grow and perform for their next job. There’s a way to create accountability fairly and in a compassionate way. From a caring, not punitive, place.

Regarding ways that professional and personal growth can be seen as one because they affect each other in some way, think of someone and their tolerance for taking risks. It may not be one to one, but there’s a connection between the amount of risk-taking in a professional setting and in a personal setting. The gird below shares where the professional and personal conversations can converge effectively.

The gird below shares where the professional and personal conversations can converge effectively.

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It’s important to have the conversations authentically. However, there is also a confusion about what authenticity means – it does not mean “getting to do what you want to do when you want to do it and how you want to do it.” It’s about acknowledging those feelings and choosing a professional way to express.

Continuing to connect the personal and professional growth, a leader’s job is to find that alignment between what the employee would like to grow toward and what the company needs.

Employees also don’t want more feedback, they want different feedback. They want to grow and understand how what they’re doing at work can help them in their life. When feedback is spot-on, comments like “she was right, my friends tell me all the time that I do that.

Often managers and leaders don’t give feedback, they give solutions, which are disempowering to team members. Managers and leaders need to create space for team members to figure it out on their own in a non-threatening, psychologically safe environment. Too often, managers and leaders assume the reason behind a behavior and get tunnel vision without inviting the team member to create a solution that works for them.

Then we got into the accountability framework they use called the Accountability Dial, which is to help team members take personal ownership of their role.

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Organizations are tribes who are aligned around a common goal, and this accountability framework is meant to ensure that ownership is felt at all levels of the organization.

Some takeaways for me were:

  • The concept of peaceful transitions because this framework helps people realize that maybe the role isn’t a good fit for them.
  • It establishes boundaries and limits.
  • The mentions are quick and easy things to do real-time to course correct behavior.

The conversation then went to training for new managers and how to explain expectations for them when they feel like a lot of more administrative stuff has been added to their plates vs. doing their “real” jobs. Some tips were:

  • Up-Leveling – explain that their role is being up-leveled in the organization; there are higher expectations now.
  • There needs to be a role model above. If their manager isn’t demonstrating the effective behaviors, then they have no one to learn from.
  • There needs to be a strong message from the top level vs. constant fights up-stream.
  • For those who feel that taking on management is a burden to them, ask why.
  • Be more Yoda, less Superman
  • Managers make time – it’s not about this quarter’s projects, it’s about how the organization can help you grow
  • That they’re currently working 1-2 levels down from their zone of genius.

I also loved the take on Radical Candor, which was Responsible Candor. There’s a strong belief that younger generations need education on professionalism because they haven’t had anyone to teach them. Also, that direct communication is just communication that’s missing the emotional context.

Then the conversation turned into one about responsibility and the bifurcating the problem and the solution. For example, “Here are the major impacts that I see. What would you do?” When we’re too forceful, there’s no space – if there’s a strong yes, or a strong no, it was too direct. Managers and leaders also need to be willing to be wrong.

When presenting a problem that one doesn’t have the power to change, the approach can be “here’s what I see” and whether or not the resulting action is what you want to see or not, doesn’t matter. Creating accountability in that compassionate way, but yet firmly – “this is the way we do things” and “these are the standards” create opportunities for growth and opportunities for people to take accountability.

Jonathan then covered the three various management archetypes – the Fixer, the Fighter and the Friend to give insight into characteristics of the types and help managers identify behaviors and acknowledge them.

It was a really great workshop and look forward to reading the book and sharing more of the learnings with my team.

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