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15-Second Gifts For Your Team

(March 7, 2023 Newsletter)

Several years ago, someone with whom I was working asked me for feedback. I couldn’t think of anything I wanted her to improve, so I said I didn’t have any. Her response? “I’m asking you to give me a gift.”

She wasn’t asking for “good” or “bad” feedback. She was simply asking for my observations - information that she could then put into action (or not).

If the phrase “I don’t have time to give feedback” resonates, then how about giving 15-second gifts to your team instead?

What is SBI?

Situation, Behavior, Impact is a feedback formula that enables you to share a specific observation in 15 seconds.

How does it work?

In this one-minute video, I give an example of affirmative SBI and developmental SBI.

**While you’re at it, follow Dolgin Leadership Group on LinkedIn to see videos like this as they’re posted.

When to use it:

In most cases, managers observe more moments that are to one’s liking than not, but we associate feedback with highlighting what needs improvement.

If that’s the case, set yourself a 4:1 ratio of affirmative (“that was great”) to developmental (“here’s something to improve”) to get into a habit of pointing out and asking about what’s going well. That would lead to one minute of affirmative feedback for every 15 seconds of developmental.

As I say to my clients, it should take the amount of time that it takes Josh and Donna to walk from one meeting to the next in “The West Wing.” Providing feedback shouldn’t be too long or too tiring. The shorter and more precise, the better.

The catch:

Sometimes, I add an A for Ask and make it SBIA. In many cases, you’ll want to spark a conversation, in which case you’ll need a few minutes, not a few seconds. The good news is that if you’re sharing your observations regularly, those conversations can be pretty brief.


The Coaching Corner

Listening for…paradigms

We all have internal rules that dictate what we consider acceptable, reasonable, expected, desirable, etc. Those rules tend to be unconscious - they were often written early in our lives and emerge automatically.

One of the most significant parts of my coaching training was learning how to listen for the client’s subjectivity (“Private Logic”) while keeping in mind a certain level of “Common Sense.” Our ears were trained to notice phrases with words like everybody, nobody, never, always, and if/then statements - to name a few - and gently probe to test the validity of the claim.

As people leaders, you probably hear these kinds of statements on the regular but may not stop and ask “Are you sure? When is that rule not true?” It’s especially critical when the person is expressing a limiting belief or one that’s blocking the person from cooperating with others. For example:

  • The engineers will never understand our perspective.

  • She doesn’t read anything I send her so why bother?

  • That’s not something she’ll be able to improve so why would I point it out?

See if you hear any internal rules this week at work. Let us know what you uncover.

Recommended for you

If you have a high pressured job, it's worth pausing to remind yourself of self-compassion techniques. Read Susan David's TED article “How to be Kinder to Yourself” to learn how.

“The $2 Billion Question of Who you Are at Work” from Sunday’s NYT. Bottom line: if you’re going to use personality tests to assess your employees, take them with a grain of salt if they’re not data-driven.


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