Ya down with TSP?
One of the hallmarks of a high performing team is the ability to recognize when there is opportunity for improvement and then do something about it. Or, more crudely as we said last week during our Fly Feet offsite: “We suck at this.”
We spent the better part of the morning last week in our offsite digging into how we communicate with each other because we all agreed that giving each other feedback is something we’re not good at, and it impacts the way we work. It’s driven by a variety of factors, most of which stem from the love we have for each other, and not wanting to make people feel bad. But the result is a passive aggressive approach that everyone knows people are hiding behind. This compromises trust and sometimes can impact our relationships.
Navigating difficult conversations is something you have to deal with not just throughout your career, but also your life. It’s critical to building strong relationships and building trust. Amy, our downtown head coach, and I attended a WPO workshop a few weeks ago with Michael Allosso where he talked about his strategy for giving feedback. We loved it so much, we implemented it at Fly Feet and so far it’s allowed the team an easy framework to use to give and receive feedback. His approach is called: TSP – truth, specificity and positive intent. There are really three core tenants to this approach:
In order to give effective constructive feedback, you have to have built up enough credits with the person from positive feedback that they’re willing to receive the negative stuff. Think about feedback as a 2:1 ratio. For every constructive piece of feedback you have, you should have delivered two positive pieces of feedback. We decided that we don’t give each other enough praise and positive feedback. It goes such a long way, and it’s easy to do when your team is as good as ours. :)
Truth, Specificity and Positive Intent
This applies both for positive and constructive feedback. When giving praise, be specific. Just saying “good job” isn’t enough and doesn’t feel meaningful. Be specific about exactly what they did well. For example, after class I used to always tell the coaches “great job” if they coached an exceptional class. Now, I tell them why which takes 7 extra seconds, but goes a really long way. “Great job, Amy. The way you connect with the flyers on an individual basis makes them feel supported and willing to try something they’re not sure they can do. It’s magic!”
When giving constructive feedback, the same rules apply, but an extra emphasis on the “T”. Simply said, don’t fear the truth. Don’t sugar coat it. Don’t position it. Just say it. Put it out there without emotion or judgment. If you’ve established a basis of trust with the 2:1 ratio, this will be a lot easier because the positive intent will be clear.
We committed to make this a part of our routines. Everyone sees everyone doing it, which it makes it easier to try. Now instead of saying “I have some feedback for you…” we say “I have some TSP for you” and everyone knows it is coming from a positive place and happy to engage.
Where can you start practicing giving more positive SPECIFIC feedback? It’s the easiest place to start. Ya down with TSP? :)