Mon 15 Jun, 2009
Tags: Negative Feedback, Raid Leading
Negative feedback is hard to give. But it’s even harder to receive.
As you can see, Matticus was discussing on Friday how badly it sucks to have to give bad news. Its interesting how age kind of redefines how you view and approach things. Some people can be blunt and they have no problems giving bad news out to people. Other people just hem an haw and have a nightmare of a time telling people anything that might be negative.
As much as I’d like to say I’m a nice worldly person… as much as I’d like to say I’ve mastered the fine art of conversation and I can handle anything the world throws at me, I can’t. I’m just a guy… in my early thirties who’s going to share a little bit of insight.
The Formative Know it All Years
As I’ve progressed through my career post college, I’ve kind of grown quite a bit. Its hard to believe for those who are younger, but we all kind of come out of college with a semi, “know it all” attitude. Just a tip.. you go to college to prove you know how to learn. You don’t got to college to learn a damned thing about what you’re going to do with your life.
I was a know it all. I also didn’t understand jack shit about how to talk to people. Business, medicine, law, politics, electrical work, engineering or for that matter any profession has a its own set of communication style and land mines. I guarantee if you’re in college or just getting out of it, you WILL step on one and it will hurt your career.
I know I’ve had my share, but with the help of some mentors I’ve grown to the point that I don’t fear getting into those difficult situations any more. There’s a different approach I take that generally won’t leave me battered and bruised when sitting in front of VPs and Directors in my company.
Self Improvement or Fired?
As my real life career has taken me forward, one of the things I’ve done is to take a bunch of classes on Project Management. One of those classes was largely a class on communication. I really liked that class for a couple of reasons. One it was taught by a pair of instructors. The first one was a woman and came across with all the sublty of a freight train. The second one was her brother and was a very mild mannered “geeky” kind of guy.
The class was very insightful, but one of the key points I thought they brought to the table was this…. If you were screwing something up, would you rather someone told you or that they just fire you because you’d been doing it for 9 months? In other words, would you rather have the chance to improve and fix a perceived problem or just find out that it wrecked your career while you sat there oblivious?
Baby Steps in Feedback
I will freely admit I’m not the best at this. I’m sure there are a ton of people who are better at it than me, but you shouldn’t always treat the world with kid gloves. Hell as some of my guildies can tell you, I probably dance around the point a little bit too much. Some times I could probably be a bit more direct and pointed with my comments. I even had a request from one of my raiders to make sure we’re getting specific feedback on what they need to improve.
This is basically what we call constructive feedback. None of us will ever be perfect. Hell theres lots of stuff I’ve messed up in my day. The point is that constructive feedback is there to help your raiders grow.
Specific and Timely
One other point that I think is very important with feedback. Wether good or bad, it needs to be specific and timely. That means that if the raid just did something very good, that needs to be mentioned right away. If they have something that needs to be improved, that needs to be brought up as well. For instance,
“Joe… I see your rogue’s DPS is hovering right around 2500 for last nights raid. When our DPS is lower, that extends the length of the fights out and puts a greater strain on the healers. They are more likely to run out of mana or not have enough cooldowns left to save a raid member. If you can increase your DPS it will shorten our fights and we’ll be able to clear more bosses.”
You show what they did wrong… what the impact on the raid was… and what they can do to improve and what the impact of that will be. It doesn’t do any good if I wait two weeks to provide feedback to Joe. If I do, it has less impact. Odds are if I’m looking at a specific item like tanking the boss in a different spot, we need to give that update right away. It reinforces what we need and what its impact will be on the whole.
Another key point is that when approaching the constructive style of feedback, you need to make sure to stick to events… not people. Don’t describe the person… describe events. People tend to take things a lot more personally when you describe them personally.
It Goes Both Ways
I know I harp on this point a lot, but the feedback has to go both ways. As a raid leader you can’t fear hearing feedback from your raiders. They should be able to come to you and talk about why your description wasn’t clear or a suggestion on a way to adjust a boss/trash fight for greater impact. Feedback is a postive thing if you approach it right folks.