One of the key management concepts that provide the best outcomes for today's leaders is called "Supportive Leadership".
During innovative corporate workshops, "supportive leader" learns to be a competent manager who applies various skills, including:
• Communication skills
• Inter-personal skills
• Professional expertise
• Excellence encouragement
• Awareness and understanding of the concept of compensation
• High technical capability
They are expected to behave as understanding, considerate, trusting, respecting, helping, caring, sharing, encouraging and empathic individuals. According to one study, a supportive leadership exists when managers allow their employees to fail without fear of being reprimanded or punished. This enables the managers to earn their employees' commitment and control the effort of fulfilling the mission in time using more effective manner (Brown and Lee, 1996).
Scriptwriting techniques for supportive leadership feedback test
One of the major opportunities of "supportive managers" to utilize supportive skills and behaviors is during processes of providing feedback. It has been said about this process that "Few managers want to deliver it, most subordinates don't want to receive it. Yet, there is little improvement without it "(Murray Johannsen). Feedback is also an opportunity for the "supportive manager" to examine the employee behavior in the past and to reflect the expected behavior in the future. However, in order to succeed in the task of "providing supportive feedback" and turn it into a positive growth mission, the manager has to develop his understanding skill. Understanding should relate to an exact identification of the employee's motives to behave in one way or another.
To help managers implementing the feedback successfully, I usually use a scriptwriting technique taken from the film making world during my leadership training workshops. In movies, characters exist only if they do something, describing the behavior or their particular character trait. Imagine you're scriptwriters are working on a specific scene, depicting two characters, a manager and an employee during a feedback meeting. To make this meeting interactive you should write a dialogue.
To create your audience identification with your dialogue you build a "preliminary background story", in other words:
What was going on before that made you decide this scene will be of feedback meeting?
What each one of the characters had done before and as a result of their actions you felt you should insert a feedback meeting scene?
What were the motives of each character behavior and were these motives in some way connected?
Supportive feedback meeting (illustration)
Let's take for example the following "preliminary background story":
An employee was asked by his manager to prepare an important document for his company's major project – a type of strategic tender offer. The management set very tight and demanding deadlines for this project. The employee's assignment included quite a big task of information gathering from his colleagues. He became stressed and tense as a result of lack of time. The document wasn't prepared on time and the delay dragged the other project-related tasks. The project manager also found himself in a stressful situation due to senior management dissatisfaction of the way he controlled the project process. He asks the employee to come to his room for an urgent meeting.
Now, our manager character has to implement a supportive technique of asking questions and reflecting responses. It will be effective for you to use the two following tables:
1. Recommended questions to ask based on their related "rules of thumb" to assist the manager to identify employee behavior motives.
2. Possible responses with their related possible motives characteristics
|Question (manager)||"Rule of thumb" for employee behavior motives identification|
|"What did you feel when you received the task of preparing the document?"||1. Decide to take the first step in identification of problem solving by using Powerful Questions. Use less 'Why?' And more "What" and "How" | |
2. Strive to understand than to be understood
|"What was the exact phase when you felt you couldn't accomplish the task? Did It happen when you had to provide the document or a few days before?"||Remember that there is much more than meets the eye - Understand that behaviors are the result of one's point of view|
|"Which obstacles have you experienced?"||Remember that people are different - employee behavior should be examined in respect to his skills and limitations of his personality|
|"What did you expect from your colleagues? Did you expect them to assist you? Did you ask for their help?"||Reflect the results of choosing to behave that way or another - without judging and without comparing between other employees' performance|
|"What do you think will happen in the coming days?"||Allow the employee to understand his own motives and offer a solution acceptable to both parties|
|"If you could, how would you change what was happened?"||Make sure the employee understands what the purpose of a feedback is, and why it should help him grow and develop personally and professionally|
|"What do you think you can do now to improve the situation?"||Always remember the purpose of the identification: to change behavior – not to change people|
|"How would you like me to help you next time you face the same situation?"||Make the feedback being a memorable experience of empowerment and motivation to produce positive results|
|Question (manager)||Possible Answer||Possible Motive Characteristic|
|"What did you feel when you received the task of preparing the document?"||"I felt that I won't be able to do it. I didn't have enough time, but I decided to try anyway and cope with the stress"||Employee characteristic - increasing demands | Task characteristic - tight deadlines | Organization characteristic – strategic tender offer|
|"What was the exact phase when you felt you couldn't accomplish the task? Did It happen when you had to provide the document or a few days before?"||"Actually, I don't remember. I felt that way all the time. I wasn't sure what to do"||Employee characteristic - lack of self confidence | Task characteristic - requirements to implement creativity in fulfilling the task | Organization characteristic – inflexible procedures and strict targets|
|"Which obstacles have you experienced?"||"Well, I didn't know who I should talk to about that. Everyone was so busy with their assignments. I also got an impression that I'm expected to do this all by myself. After a day or two I realized that I need some more information from other guys, but I didn't know who might help me with that. You know, I'm new to this business..."||Employee characteristic – insecurity, lack of knowledge and experience in fulfilling the tasks, expectations to get assistance from the executives | Task characteristic - a task too structured and inflexible | Organization characteristic – reorganization in teams' structure, entrance to a homogeneous and cohesive team (not open to new perspectives)|
|"What did you expect from your colleagues? Did you expect them to assist you? Did you ask for their help?"||"No, I didn't. It seems they have their own habits...They didn't like the ideas I presented in our last team meeting"||Employee characteristic – expectations to get assistance from the executives | Task characteristic - lack of opportunities for personal expression and lack of teamwork | Organization characteristic – reorganization in teams' structure, entrance to a homogeneous and cohesive team (not open to new perspectives)|
|"What do you think will happen in the coming days?"||"I'll be happy if you could advice me..."||Employee characteristic – expectations to get assistance from the executives | Task characteristic - requirements to implement creativity in fulfilling the task | Organization characteristic – indisputable authority of the managers|
|"If you could, how would you change what was happened?"||"I would try to ask my manager to have a team meeting and discuss the possible creative solutions for completing the task. Maybe then I'll feel much better and do my best. And get to work with the veterans here – they probably can help me a lot!"||Employee characteristic –expectations to get assistance from the executives | Task characteristic - requirements to implement creativity in fulfilling the task | Organization characteristic – strategic tender offer timely submission|
|"What do you think you can do now to improve the situation?"||"Talk with you every time I feel that way and try to ask for assistance from the team"||Employee characteristic –expectations to get assistance from the executives | Task characteristic - requirements to implement creativity in fulfilling the task | Organization characteristic – strategic tender offer timely submission|
|"How would you like me to help you next time you face the same situation?"||Talk with me :)||Employee characteristic –expectations to get assistance from the executives | Task characteristic - requirements to lack of opportunities for personal expression | Organization characteristic – strategic tender offer timely submission|
And now imagine the real world: you're a manager and you need to provide your employee a feedback and identify the motives for his behavior. Write the same dialogue when you are preparing for the feedback meeting and try to think about possible answers to your questions. Try to reflect in your own words your employee's answers.
Done? You're ready to go!
After the meeting prepare a "supportive feedback" to yourself:
• How did I function?
• Have I understood exactly the motive of my employee's behavior?
• Was I able to reflect the results of his behavior?
• Did I suggest possible solutions to the complex situation?
• Did we find together the solution that best suits me?
• What would I change next time I provide feedback?
Note: This article is partly based on the results of a recent discussion entitled "Necessary communication skills in providing a feedback" I initiated in LinkedIn.