February 3, 2005
Excerpts: Tell Me How I'm Doing - Part V
The meeting resumed with Scott's arms folded tightly across his chest and his face set like concrete. He was thinking that there were only two possibilities: either a space alien had made him invisible, or a dozen people, some close friends, had made him the victim of a sadistic game. Either way, he didn't like it and was feeling frustrated and felt like going back to his office to do something productive.
"Something the matter, Scott?" the coach finally asked.
"Something is going on, but I don't know what!" replied Scott.
"So what do you think is going on?" she continued.
"You're all playing some kind of a game."
Sensing his frustration, she smiled and said, "Scott, we were indeed playing a game. Your boss volunteered you for an important demonstration, because you know these people well and he thought you could take a little ribbing. I hope he was correct."
"So what's this all about?" he asked.
"Scott, for the past hour everyone in this room has denied you any type of feedback whatsoever. I instructed your colleagues to totally ignore you. None of us, myself included, could look at or speak to you. I realize it's an unusual demonstration, but I needed someone to experience firsthand what happens in the heart of a person who is denied feedback. So now I need you to tell us what you felt and how long it took you to notice that something was different."
Scott paused and said, "Well, I could tell as soon as I walked in the room. Nobody looked at me. Nobody responded in any way."
"And you felt . . ." the coach prompted.
"I felt awful, especially on the break when people looked straight through me. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't figure out what it was."
"So, Scott, how important is feedback in your life?"
"If it was feedback that was missing, it's really important."
The coach took a couple of steps toward Scott and said, "And if you as an employee were denied feedback, totally or even partially, in this organization, for an hour, a week, or even longer, how productive would you be at performing your job responsibilities?"
The managers in the room noticed a pained look on Scott's face. It was apparent that something had just struck him. He paused a few seconds and replied, "Not very."
Also having noticed Scott's reaction, the coach pursued her thought and asked, "If you were denied feedback, much like you were for the past hour in this room, how responsible, loyal, or trustworthy would you be to this organization? Would your productivity be high, or low? How much initiative would you demonstrate in your job? How much morale would you have? And how likely would you be to turn down a job offer to go someplace else?"
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About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.