Articles | Leadership

The 5 Step Process for Giving Constructive Feedback

The process of communication comes full circle only when the sender’s intended message is completely understood by the receiver of the message and feedback about that understanding is communicated to the sender by the receiver. However, it is not always as simple as sending and receiving messages. At times we need to communicate feedback as well and depending upon the situation, the feedback may be positive or critical.

Minal shares her experience and says, “The schedules had been sent out two weeks in advance and the dates had been blocked for the monthly review meeting. This was one monthly catch up session we did as a team wherein we went over all our business plans and reviewed our numbers. This was my fourth review meet with this new team I had been asked to lead and as I sat in the conference room waiting for the team members, I still worried about Rahul who had consistently walked in, unprepared, for each of the review meetings. What was I to do if he did that again?”

We are all faced with similar apprehensions when we need to give feedback. At such times, we may choose to ignore the problem, we may choose to get upset about the whole thing or we could consciously choose to share feedback with the person concerned.

This five step process is quite helpful when it comes to sharing constructive feedback:

1. Point out the Problem in Behaviour: It is essential to understand the difference between the person and the problem. We need to point out that we have a problem with the person’s behaviour and not with the person.

Minal: "Rahul, I need to speak to you. Could you please come with me to my office? I have noticed that you have been walking in unprepared for our review meetings. It is essential that you come armed with your data when we do the review meeting so that we are all on the same page."

2. Point out exactly what is wrong: Vague feedback seldom helps. It is therefore essential to specifically state what the issue is quite clearly and why that issue is a problem. Not painting a clear picture will only lead to ineffective communication and a lot of misunderstandings.

Minal: "The business plans we create are all dependent on the numbers. When you don’t bring in the data, coming to a conclusion regarding what plans are feasible and what plans are not becomes difficult."

3. Help them recognize the Issue: It is not enough just to give feedback. Once feedback has been given, it is also important to seek acknowledgment as to whether the issue has been understood or not and whether the person receiving the feedback plans to do something about it.

Minal: "It is a problem area and you do see that it needs to be corrected, right?"

4. Establish Goals: Goal setting essentially entails creating an action plan which will help in attaining the desired end result. Feedback does not stop just with pointing out what is ineffective. Effective feedback comprises solutions to problems, not just identifying and acknowledging problems. In the case of Minal and Sarika, the end result is a change in behaviour and approach to work.

Minal: "Help me understand the reason for being unprepared so that we can both work out solutions to this problem together. Let us figure out how we can solve this problem. Also, let me know how I can help you."

5. Evaluate Performances: A follow- through is essential, especially after feedback has been given and goals have been set. A performance evaluation post constructive feedback helps deliver two pertinent messages: i) It helps to understand whether the feedback has percolated down to the receiver of the feedback. ii) It helps in establishing the message that the person providing objective feedback is concerned about the issue.

Minal: "I would like to do a small review with you every Friday at 4.00 PM so that we can resolve all the issues you are facing and get you all the requisite training before our next review meet."

A bonus tip: Focus only on developing future plans through your feedback. And remember, especially while giving constructive feedback; make sure you give it in a private setting.

Articles | Training

Personal Development Plan – A Portfolio

Ahana is a vibrant 21 year old who recently graduated with acceptable grades, completed her internship with the organization of her choice and also managed to acquire full time employment with the same organization. She however feels that there isn’t much else to look forward to and is now feeling dissatisfied with her job. Many youngsters today are very much like Ahana. They bring with them technical skills, knowledge and enthusiasm but with time, end up losing their drive.

The findings of a survey conducted at the beginning of the year by a job portal Wisdom Jobs revealed that attrition rates would be pegged at somewhere between 12- 14% at the entry levels in the year 2015. While many industry experts have named poor employee engagement, unsatisfactory work conditions and poor pay as the reasons for high attrition rates, one also cannot ignore the fact that most graduates do not have a clear vision or action plan in place, which further compounds the issue of attrition, especially at the entry levels.

Ahana has her technical skills in place. She is quite adept at her job and the organization is also to her liking. So the issue for her is not that of poor pay, poor work conditions or poor employee engagement. She needs to get a clear understanding of the way forward for her, in terms of her career. Creating a Personal Development Plan goes a long way in resolving this crisis that most graduates like Ahana face.

A Personal Development Plan (PDP) is a document which can serve as a manual for self development, self reflection, and self awareness and for generating action plans. This Portfolio like document can be written, revised and re- written to be made tenable to current situations.

The PDP helps to identify and outline one’s abilities, skills and interests. Once these have been identified, the next step is to set goals which would help strengthen existing skills as well as develop new ones. Establishing time frames for attaining each set objective will also help in having a strong PDP.

My Personal Development Plan is a handbook which has been created by SoaringEagles to help you discover yourself. This written exercise book comes with challenging questions which will help you reflect. The handbook lets you pen down your thoughts as well as any ongoing developments in your life that you would like to make note of. A peek into this handbook can be quite helpful when you are applying for a job or when you feel you need to do more at your existing job.

This personal portfolio is a key take away from the Lakshya Employability Acceleration Programme (LEAP) which equips participants to become more self-aware, motivated, influential and networked. It also enhances their Communication and Interpersonal Skills, Analytical and Problem Solving Skills and Commercial Awareness, skills that are highly valued by employers. The programme culminates with sessions on how to write impressive resumes and how to do exceptionally well in interviews. Participants of this programme are equipped to go after their dream job with confidence.

Articles | Entrepreneurship

The Formula for Success in Entrepreneurship

The e-commerce industry has changed the landscape of the start-up ecosystem of India, for the better. Every time, while reading about the success stories of organizations like ‘Flipkart’ and how the Bansal duo officially entered the Forbes billionaire club, there are many aspiring entrepreneurs, hoping to make it big, eventually.

So, what does it really take to be a successful entrepreneur? While there is no specific recipe for success, there is no substitute for hard work and dedication either. Establishing a venture entails taking risks, having the ability to anticipate consequences, demonstrating a thorough understanding of the environment in which one plans to operate in and the ability to handle setbacks.

The future belongs to those who can innovate as well as address India’s systemic issues in the process. While doing so, it is important to ensure that the initiative that you plan on taking is aligned with your passion, abilities and core values. The fruits of success are more likely to come to entrepreneurs who can stay focused on their strengths, while striving for excellence.

The entrepreneurial journey is all about executing a new idea and continuously evolving in order to stay relevant. It is through humility and positivity, that facilitating the process of learning and growth becomes possible.

So, while the Bansals’ ‘Flipkart’ continues to raise the bar for start-ups in the e-commerce industry; they have proved that through visioncommitment and determination, your dreams can be transformed into successful realities.

Articles | Behaviours

Do You Think You Are Still Learning?

Consciously or sub-consciously we are all capable of learning throughout our life span. However, some learn more or faster than others. What really triggers this conscious learning? It is the realisation of a gap. This, in turn means accepting that we don’t know something.

My niece is due to turn one in another 3 months and watching her transform has sort of become our favourite pastime. Observing her has also made us quite aware of our own selves. There is so much one can learn from observing a tiny baby and its activities. Little Natasha is now ready to stand up. She is eight and a half months old and she has dragged her tiny body around, supporting herself on her palms and knees for almost two whole months now. We are afraid she will soon stand up and begin walking.

Observing her does pose an interesting question: Is Natasha aware of her own learning competencies. The answer is ‘yes’. Studies have suggested that a lot of learning takes place during the first year of our life and this learning is primarily acquired through observing our own body movements as well as those of others.

Looking at Natasha also helped us reflect on our own learning styles. Most often, we, like Natasha tend to remain in the ‘Unconscious Incompetence’ phase wherein we are not aware that we need to inculcate a new skill. During her crawling phase, Natasha does not know if she can walk. She is unconscious of her inability, probably because she has never even attempted walking or even standing. Eventually, she will observe that others tend to be quicker than her because they walk on their two feet. Here begins the second phase of her learning which is ‘Conscious Incompetence’- an awareness of her inability to walk. This awareness might prompt her to attempt standing up. When she is in this second phase, she will have quite a number of falls but she will eventually learn to stand up. In our case, when we realize that acquiring a particular skill will benefit us, we become aware of our incompetence and then we start working towards developing this new skill.

After a lot of practice, Natasha, quite like us, reaches the third phase which is called ‘Conscious Competence’. In this phase, Natasha is able to stand up and she also becomes aware of her ability to stand. However, a lot of effort is still expended by Natasha as well as us when it comes to putting this newly acquired skill to use.

Learning comes a full cycle once we reach the fourth and final stage of learning which is called ‘Unconscious Competence’. At this stage, Natasha is able to stand up without much effort and is able to also walk whilst holding on to other objects for support. At this juncture, she has begun using her acquired skill unconsciously and is gearing up to acquire more new skills. In our case, when we use the newly acquired skill with ease and without expending any effort, we have reached a stage of Unconscious Competence. In fact, this new skill is now at our disposal and we again gear up to acquire something new. So people who constantly put themselves in new situations or take up new challenges tend to learn a lot more than people who never deviate from their routine and comfort zone.

Articles | Insight

How to Make the Right Career Choice

The other day I met a gentleman who was very excited to hear about what I have launched in the form of SoaringEagles Learning.

He said “My daughter has just finished college. She was not very good in studies or interested in Commerce but we told her to do a B. Com. Now she is not sure what to do as she does not really want to crunch numbers or take up CA exams. We are also confused now and have told her to take a break for some time. Hopefully she will figure out something to do.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We come across so many people who have pushed their children to take up engineering, medicine, B.Com, and so on without any consideration for what their children want to do. Actually, the irony is that the children themselves are usually clueless about what they like or would want to do and so don’t mind being told what to do. However, this leads to more confusion and disillusionment. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

All of us are born with unique qualities and talents. Some talents are visible like music, art, and so on, but most are not visible. Someone may have the gift of the gab, someone may be good at being sensitive to others’ feelings, and some may be really good with numbers. The trick is to recognize these talents, develop them, and use them in one’s chosen field of work. Doing this will really make the person someone to reckon with. The Lakshya Employability Acceleration Programme is developed on this premise and hence will have a far-reaching impact on a person’s life and career path.