Recently, I attended a conference put on by the guys from the Manager Tools Pocast. I’ve been listening to Mark Horstman and Mike Auzenne for years. They are truly innovators in the world of actionable management tools and techniques. Allyson has even gotten into their podcasts lately, and claims that being a homeschool mother is just as much a management task as hiring and firing.
One of the things that Mark covered in his management trinity was feedback. Giving feedback to directs (employees) is one of the three most important things that managers do. Here is a direct link to their podcast on giving feedback. Almost in jest, one of the participants asked if feedback works with family members. Mark exclaimed, “DON’T EVER use feedback with your spouse. But I can see where feedback would be useful with your kids.”
BINGO! [callout]Don’t ever use feedback with your spouse. But feedback can be useful with your kids.[/callout]
So here’s a suggested model for use with your kids (totally ripped off from Manager Tools with attribution)
Dad: Austin, can I give you some feedback?
Austin: Uh, ok. Am I in trouble?
Dad: When you use your Boy Scout magnesium and steel firestarter on the kitchen table, here’s what happens – the kitchen table catches on fire, scorches and looks like a campsite picnic table.
Austin: Dad, I’m really sorry about that. Am I in trouble?
Dad: Austin, you see how your behavior – using the firestarter which is really for the outdoors – in the house resulted in a bad situation, and you could’ve burned the house down?
Austin: I sure do, Dad. Am I in trouble?
Dad: How could you have handled this differently?
Austin: Uh… done it outside on the porch.
Dad: Yes, and…
Austin: Uh… told you I was going to do it.
Dad: Yes, good idea.
Austin: So is that it? Am I in anymore trouble?
Dad: No, but if you do it again, you will be.
Austin: Got it. I’m sorry, Dad.
Dad: Go tell that to your mother.
Note how I keep the tension (and therefore his attention) going by not answering his question until we’ve gone through the steps.
So, in summary here are the “Family Tools” rules for child feedback:
- Step 1 – Ask if you can give feedback. Keep in mind that most feedback you give should be positive, somewhere on the order of 90% to 10%.
- Step 2 – State the behavior. Keep away from emotions, intentions, anything that is not observable and verifiable. Examples are behaviors are what is said, how it was said, facial expressions, body language, and behaviors/actions. So to clarify, you shouldn’t say, “When you act like a pyromaniac.” That’s a judgement. Its better to state the behavior, as is done in the example.
- Step 3 – State the consequences of the behavior. “Here’s what happens…” is a good way to start this rule.
- Step 3.5 – Explicitly define the connection between the behavior and consequence, including what could happen if you were able to forestall a disaster. Although this is not recommended in the Manager Tools feedback model, I think for kids, it’s a good addition since they are still learning the connection between the two.
- Step 4- Praise the child for good behavior – “Good job, keep it up!” or ask what could’ve been done differently to result in good behavior. Be explicit.
- Optional Step 5- Give consequences if the behavior was negative.
- Step 6 – Make sure the Mom knows. Because Mom should know everything, right?