The TriNet Extreme Leadership Series: Access the Power of Extreme Feedback
Posted on July 20, 2012 by Matt Meigs in Best Practices, Entrepreneurs, Leadership
Would you have the courage to walk into a lion’s den—metaphorically speaking—if the outcome ended up generating enormous benefits to your own leadership development? That’s the challenge leadership expert, bestselling author, and TriNet Extreme Leadership Video Series host Steve Farber proposes in Extreme Feedback, the ninth program in the series. Farber also asserts that his challenge can, “Turbo-charge your evolution as an extreme leader.”
Farber begins Extreme Feedback with a colorful story about former New York City mayor Ed Koch, who enjoyed surprising citizens in the city by walking up to them and asking, “How am I doing as mayor?” Koch often received valuable input from the exercise, and as Farber points out, simply asking for feedback may sound like a simple thing to do but it can have powerful consequences.
Michael, a regional branch manager for a national brokerage firm and an associate of Farber’s, found out just how powerful the consequences could be out of sheer desperation. Each month Michael’s firm conducted and posted the results of an employee satisfaction survey. And like clockwork, each time the survey was posted, Michael’s group was ranked either the second-highest, or the highest in employee dissatisfaction. “It was driving him crazy,” observes Farber, “until he had the epiphany.”
The epiphany was acknowledging that although most of those responding to the survey were not his direct reports, he was still their leader and had to take responsibility for the low scores. So Michael gathered his 15 direct reports together and admitted that, “I’m screwing up. You know it. The numbers show it. Tell me what I’m doing wrong.” He then left the room after instructing his team to take 30 minutes to write everything down. When he returned and knocked on the door his team shouted, “We need more time!” When he finally did enter, all Michael saw was wall after wall covered with list after list of all the things he needed to improve on. As Farber describes it, Michael was “devastated…and the next night and day were the most difficult of his entire business career.”
But out of that process something infectious happened. Each of Michael’s managers decided to go through the same process with their own direct reports that Michael had endured. Michael also followed up on his own progress each week by asking each member of his team how he was doing. “The epilogue to this story is pretty significant,” says Farber, “In the next round of employee opinion surveys Michael’s group was second from the top in employee satisfaction for the entire company. His group’s satisfaction levels had improved eighty to ninety percent. As Farber says, “Michael’s experience demonstrates the transformative power of extreme feedback.”
All of the videos in the TriNet Extreme Leadership Series—an exclusive program for TriNet client companies—can be accessed through our online portal, HR Passport®. Trinet.com visitors are welcome to get a sampling of the program or to contact us for additional information.
Attend the Extreme Leadership Summit
Don’t miss your chance to join Steve Farber in person at the Extreme Leadership Summit from August 17−19, 2012 in San Diego, California. Learn more at: extremeleadership.com.