Giving negative feedback is tough.
Whether constructive or not, telling someone how their behaviour impacted you is difficult.
Even for the more seasoned feedback-givers, it’s a challenge.
That’s why having a script to guide you is a good place to start.
The script gives you time to think through what happened, connect with how you feel, and construct some opening lines that are free from blame, and get your message across.
But what if you’re the one who’s made a mistake?
What if you’re the one who must make an apology?
What if your credibility’s at stake and you need to reset it?
How can you make your apology, explain yourself, and maintain trust?
There’s a script for that situation too. I’ll share it with you in a minute.
But first … a story.
The year was 2013 and the location was Milan. 12 members of a project team sat around a boardroom table hashing out the details of a project they’d just kicked off.
The facilitator of the meeting decided he’d also take the meeting minutes himself. I can multitask, he reassured everyone. Besides, I’ve been working like this for years.
Nobody took notes but him. The team felt safe in his capable hands.
The meeting went smoothly. Budgets were agreed, potential external suppliers selected, and roles assigned.
When it was over, each member of the project team went back to their desks and continued on with the tasks they’d set themselves for that day.
The facilitator returned to his desk and fired up his laptop to locate the notes he’d taken.
He’d promised to share the meeting minutes with the team before the day was done. On top of this, he’d create and actions tracking sheet, and a risk assessment document, based on what had been discussed and agreed.
Only, he couldn’t find his notes.
Had he forgotten to save the document? Could it be recovered? Was it a Word or Excel document?
His heart started pounding as his chest filled with dread.
He’d been so cocky. He told everyone to be present at the meeting and forget about taking notes. The responsibility was on him.
And he’d blown it.
He had a few options in front of him:
:: Option #1: Google his way to recovering the document
:: Option #2: Visit the folks in IT and ask them for help finding it
:: Option #3: If the above fail … come clean to the other 11 people in the meeting and ask them to recall what he couldn’t.
The final option would mean going through the agenda with them, asking them what they remembered about actions points for everyone, the pros and cons for each supplier they reviewed, all the risks identified …
He was mortified.
How should I even start the conversation? What do I say to explain myself? Will anyone ever take me seriously again?
How would you approach this?
If you’re not sure, help is here!
The latest episode of the Masks Off Podcast is with a fine gent called Steve Cockram.
He’s a leadership trainer and, during the episode, he gave us the exact words to say when admitting to a mistake, and still remain credible.
Steve gives some useful insights into how to build and maintain trust in a team (especially during times of change).
And if you’re a Harry Potter fan, watch the faces Olivier and I make as Steve mentions a few Potter-esque words as we have zero clue what the references mean (he’s in the cool club and were … not).
What to do now?
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