BIF: a simple feedback model

This post is about three things:

  • The 1 most important thing about feedback
  • The 2 types of feedback we can give
  • The 3 steps in the BIF feedback model I made up the other day

And, as a special bonus feature, 2 particular situations where we can use a variation of the model.

I wrote this post because when delivering management training, the topic of feedback often comes up. To give a quick answer with some valuable advice, I cobbled together some feedback models and developed BIF. I hope you find it useful.


What is feedback?

Feedback is information about past performance.

It is not necessarily actionable, it may be negative or positive, could be subjective or objective, accurate or a load of old nonsense … but it’s all feedback.

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Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us by Seth Godin

Tribes: We Need You to Lead UsTribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a fast-paced high-energy onslaught of short choppy chapters that shout the argument that we are all members of tribes – groups of like-minded passionate people – and that tribes are where the energy and enthusiasm is.

Godin uses this concept as the basis for a discussion on game-changing leadership. It’s about how “heretics” can passionately and determinedly fight for what they believe in, and that if they are right, people will follow them. The point is not to seek people to lead, but to seek a disruptive idea and make it happen; the people will follow.

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The Tao of Coaching by Max Landsberg

The Tao of Coaching: Boost Your Effectiveness at Work by Inspiring and Developing Those Around YouThe Tao of Coaching: Boost Your Effectiveness at Work by Inspiring and Developing Those Around You by Max Landsberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This little book is written in a narrative style, and is about a guy called Alex who learns how to successfully apply the principles of coaching as a business manager and departmental leader. At first Alex is a people-eater, a caricature of a driving high-D manager who rolls over people to get results. Thanks to some good advice from some surprisingly gracious and lovely colleagues, Alex is slowly transformed into a much more sophisticated manager and leader of people, and at the end of the book we wait atop tenterhooks to find out if he’s made it to the company top table (I won’t spoil this review by revealing that he does make it).

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Leadership and the One Minute Manager (Situational Leadership) by Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi and Drea Zigarmi

Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Increasing Effectiveness Through Situational Leadership (Hardcover)Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Increasing Effectiveness Through Situational Leadership by Ken Blanchard (Author) Patricia Zigarmi (Author) Drea Zigarmi (Author)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book in the One Minute Manager series I’ve read, and I haven’t yet decided if it’ll be the last. I am doubtful, not because of the substance of this slim volume, but because of its grating style.

It’s written like a story where the main character, an insufferably smug “One Minute Manager”, advises a wide-eyed “Entrepreneur” about management and leadership. The Entrepreneur is led around to meet members of the OMM’s top team, learning that our hero doesn’t treat everyone the same way. In fact, he goes out of his way to diagnose each individual’s development level (the situation), and then respond accordingly with the right mix of directive and supportive management (the leadership).

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Creating a learning organization

There are many reasons why the learning organization remains so tantalizingly elusive.

Like any big idea that’s about intangible stuff like culture and attitude, the concept suffers from being a bit wishy-washy and vulnerable to the told-you-so cynicism of those whose myopic vision rarely extends beyond tomorrow’s bottom line. And anyway, being both intangible and vanishingly rare, it’s not always that easy to spot even if you achieve it. (1)

It also asks people, employees and managers (managers are people too), to behave in ways that are not necessarily in their own short-term best interests. It requires people to be mature, professional, think long-term, share and collaborate, and create safe environments where people can make mistakes and learn.

Not only that, it’s a staggeringly ambitious vision for an organization. The standard definitions offer a glittery utopian future that few would see as undesirable, but most would fail to even know where to start, let alone be able to put together a coherent programme that would impress the finance department.

So, I thought I’d solve this problem by developing a three-stage definition that would also serve as a road-map.

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