In Vistage, we commonly use the start, stop, continue exercise for feedback – from our peers in the peer group meetings or with our teams as a way to gain awareness of behaviors that make us easier/harder to work with.Think about someone you work with closely. Let’s pick on your Executive Assistant or someone who is stuck with you and you with them.
What would you like them to start doing? Perhaps it is take more initiative. What are specific examples of where that would be most helpful.
What is an example of what they should stop doing? Perhaps it is cc’ing you on replies to others or perhaps it is NOT cc’ing you.
What should they continue doing? Being a cheerful presence when you are losing your mind, for example.
Then it is their turn – what would they like you to stop, start, continue. Don’t accept the “you are perfect excuse.” That means they don’t feel safe sharing. Listen carefully to their feedback and make changes, not excuses. On both sides, negotiating to a middle outcome is a great first step. Maybe you are always late to reply to them or change things frequently. Perhaps, that is just how your business rolls. Can you cut down on the evenings they have to work to complete your last minute changes? Or, give them a day off now and then to make it up?
Once you feel comfortable using the stop, start, continue, it is time to do it in 1-2-1’s with your senior team members. This is where the rubber meets the road. Be specific with examples. Ask them to do the same. Again, this builds trust and takes trust. You must make it safe for them to give you feedback.
Creating trust is an iterative process. You may feel comfortable going right to the heart of the issues. They are likely not to be that comfortable. So, figure this will take several rounds before you get to real conversations.
Finally, we often do things a certain way because we have no other tools about how to behave. Typically, that is when we get most angry and defensive. Be aware of that reaction in yourself and others and be compassionate – then curious about how else it could be. There is gold here. Start digging.
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image courtesy of deb willems