Picture this… I’m driving east on I-10, it’s early, the sun’s bright, there’s barely a car in sight, my audible book is delivering positive reformations, my mind empowered to create solutions. I swerve ever so slightly to change lanes and YIKES; my stomach drops, my heart skips and I gasp (all simultaneously) as I catch sight of a car right next to me. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?
BLIND SPOT. We all have them. Not only in our car, but in life. We walk through our day aware of our own good intentions and giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt. But, who are we leaving in our wake, who are we side-swiping without even knowing it?
You can’t read the label from the inside of the jar
Self-assessment is vital, but equally vital is honest and helpful feedback from others. If self-assessment is the only measuring stick we use, we may have our thumb on the scale, sort-of speak. Getting feedback from others on our style gives us a new awareness of our blind spots or better yet, how we are landing to others.
I love the START, STOP, CONTINUE exercise.
START, STOP, CONTINUE exercise: Leader asks those around them to answer these three questions about their style or a specific skill they are trying to master. What should I start doing, stop doing, continue doing. Responses to stops and continues are required, starts are not required but encouraged. For every start and stop there is at least one continue. This exercise can initially be anonymous, but for best results, should progress to fair, helpful, open communication. All comments must remain respectful and tactful.
- At the end of a 1:1 session, ask your employee to simply write out what they think you should start doing, stop doing and continue doing regarding your overall style, a specific skill you are mastering or a project. Allow about a week to complete.
- Use the above exercise as an exit interview technique – give exiting employees at least a week to consider before leaving.
- In a team meeting, each participant receives three post-it notes. They write one stop, one start and one continue for the desired topic (team meeting ideas, project ideas, area improvements)- use one post-it for each. As they leave the team meeting, they adhere the post-it to a white board or flip chart page divided into three sections and labeled with Stop, Start, Continue.
- Post a permanent white board or flip chart page, divided into three sections and labeled, that allow team members to make suggestions at any time.
This exercise is extremely enlightening and allows you to not only bring to light how others view you, but it can also uncover some simple opportunities to improve relationships, skills, styles, tools, processes and more. An exercise like this requires some type of action, it is important that participants see their comments as relevant and accepted especially when the end goal open, honest feedback.
With that said, be careful, not to take the comments to personal, keep an open mind, weigh everything against your own truth and acknowledge every comment even if you are not able to act on it. Use the words “Thank you for your input” with each submission.
I dare you to try this exercise with your spouse or your child – might be a great dinner time exercise. I think I will try this with my husband – he may think it’s a trick, much like asking if I look fat in this outfit.
Until we see each other again, GO BOLDLY and always be looking for Your Next Best Step forward.