When I flew as a fighter pilot in the RAF, debriefing was a core part of daily operations. There were several outputs of the debrief:

However, even though this was a very powerful performance development tool, it was still finite. The things that people are really thinking about others in the team, deep down, are sometimes left unsaid for fear of the reaction or offending.

It did occur to me at one point that as a pilot, I really knew what made a good navigator. Not what generic competencies and behaviours were required, but the specific micro-detail things which individual navigators would do or not do, without their ever having any real insight into the way those things improved or detracted from my ability to do my job a as a pilot, as part of that crew.

I was reminded of that thought recently when running a short session on feedback for a current client. One of my colleagues positioned a simple but remarkably effective exercise in sharing home truths between members of a team. (Warning: we are trained professionals. DO NOT try this at home.)

I am sure you can see the potential for nuclear boardroom war.

Joking aside, although the exercise is simple, it does require some careful positioning and set-up to extract the maximum value and avoid a massive punch-up. In simple terms, each member of the team gives every other member of the team feedback on two positive and negative behaviours/contributions, in front of the rest of the team!

I am sure you can see the potential for nuclear boardroom war. However this simple session was actually a gamechanger. As well as some enormously positive (and authentic) recognition, a number of sources of friction and ineffectiveness were actually thrown out into the public domain having festered unknown (at least by the only person who could do something about them – the source) for months and years. 

I was so impressed, I recently tried the same approach with a supplier of professional services to my own business to address an issue which has driven me nuts for ages. The problem was solved in less than 24h. I had always been concerned about the reaction of the other party. However with the correct framing to make this objective, neutral and outcome-focused, together with clear evidence of the consequence of the observable behaviour, the ‘threat’ to the other party was almost wholly mitigated.

360 feedback is a powerful tool. However although anonymity allows objectivity, it also dilutes authenticity.

360 feedback is clearly a powerful tool. However although anonymity allows objectivity, it also dilutes evidence and authenticity.

Why have to wait for a neutral third party to run that process, maybe a couple of times in your career? You might feel uncomfortable finding out what your team REALLY think about you. But let’s face it; what do you think they’re talking about when you leave the room? 

You’re the only person who doesn’t know what everybody thinks of you. Is your ego the biggest barrier to high performance?

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