Being Present: 3S – Stop, Seek & Sort

Many train their leaders in giving feedback. It is nice when it is done well, i.e. “short & sweet” as in the 3C mnemonic template. However, all to few include the flip-side of the coin: Receiving feedback.

In the classic albeit somewhat tainted “Good to Great” from 2001, Jim Collins argues that “brutal honesty” is essential for the great organization. The brutal honesty is the free flow of information within the agile organization, everyone listening on behalf of the leader and providing essential feedback early enough for the leadership to make proactive decisions.

However, no brutal honesty without respectful appreciation of feedback.  Once you kill the messenger, the news stops coming.

Luckily and largely by the original inspiration of Belinda Lange there is a mnemonic recipe: 3S, you have to…

  • Stop … what you are doing and pay attention to the present you are about to receive. It may have required some courage to seek you out, so take your time and turn on your emphatic listening.
  • Seek … the root cause; help the person to give you good feedback focusing on specifics rather than emotional hearsay. Avoid getting biased or personal and help the conversation down any conflict steps and stairs.
  • Sort … the information given to you and adhere to the things that truly matters. Do not sort and discard anything before the offered insight is truly handed over and the person has left with a confident feeling of being appreciated for the gift of feedback.

In that order. And remember it is a full stop. Treat the offered feedback as a valuable present. Even if you don’t have the time, in which case you make a specific appointment of when and how within the next 48 hours the feedback will be truly appreciated!

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