The Coach's Corner

Archive for May, 2014

Tribute to Jae Doescher

May 26th, 2014 // Tom Doescher //
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On February 17, 2014, our 29-year-old daughter died; in this blog, we hope to pay tribute to her. We weren’t sure exactly how we were going to provide business advice to you and, at the same time, honor Jae, but then it dawned on us.

Just like you, there were things in Jae’s life that she knew were out of her control. Despite those limitations, she managed to rise above her circumstances and, through her loving care, she positively impacted hundreds of children and parents all over the world. We continue to receive notes from so many people, telling us how much Jae meant to their families. One mother made the comment that her teenage children don’t know life without Jae. A sobbing young man told us he didn’t know Jae, but he had come to the funeral representing his deceased father, who had worked with Jae in the church nursery and always spoke fondly of her.

In many ways, Jae was like you (a business owner or an executive running a business). Owning and/or running a business is a lot more difficult than most people think. (See our June 4, 2012, post) If you own a business, your family’s wealth is at risk every day. Many of you operate in a world filled with giants, where your customers are large multinationals who often treat you unfairly and/or continually ask for price concessions. Your suppliers, too, are giants, and they dictate pricing. It seems like the federal, state and local governments continuously pass laws or regulations that increase your costs.

To stay in business, you — like our daughter — need to rise above your circumstances. For Jae, the experience of caring for hundreds of children over the years was worth it — and your perseverance in your endeavors is worth it, too. Think about it this way: How many families does your company support? You provide great training and opportunities for advancement. Your team members are mostly good citizens in their communities who pay local, state, and federal taxes. Many of them serve on their local PTA or volunteer their time on their church’s boards and committees.

Yes, like Jae, you make a huge impact on this world. And, like Jae, you may never get any special recognition for the efforts you put forth. But what you do is important, so keep it up. We’re cheering for you.

Are you good at giving good developmental feedback? How are you at receiving good developmental feedback?

May 12th, 2014 // Tom Doescher //
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We have read many books and articles about “giving” feedback. We have written about “giving” feedback. At the Center for Creative Leadership, we were trained on how to “give” feedback. But we have never read or heard any advice about “receiving” feedback. Once again, the Harvard Business Review (January 2014, “Finding the Coaching in Criticism“) offers some very practical suggestions for Type A personalities like us. This is a must-read, even if you have to pay for it. (Just for the record, we do not get any kickbacks from HBR.)

We’ll begin with an observation, and then tell a story (you know we love to tell stories).

One of many contributions Bill Hermann, managing partner of Plante Moran from 2001-2009, made was to change the company’s internal language from having a focus on making constructive criticism to emphasizing developmental feedback. In my (Tom’s)  38th annual performance review (just two years before my retirement), Bill asked, with a smile on his face, “Tom, what are you going to do different this year, to improve your performance?” How do you you think I felt? It may surprise you, but I can honestly say it made me feel energized and enthusiastic! Setting goals for yourself is motivating; if there was nothing to improve upon, what value is there in working hard?

Now the story. Months before my retirement, I was involved in a number of the partners’ annual performance reviews. As I was preparing for one of these sessions, another partner said, “We need to be careful in this annual review with Charlie so that we (the three of us) do not talk too much and Charlie has time to express himself.” This being my last performance review with Charlie, of whom I was very fond, I could not hold back — and I talked too much. I’m certain that those of you who know me are not at all surprised.

About an hour later, one of the partners in attendance stopped by my office. He said, “You talked too much! Because you will be involved in several more partner performance reviews, you need to chill.”

I reacted in a way that was open to receiving the feedback, and rather than being defensive about the criticism, I modified my behavior. Eureka!!!

Please read the article and change the way you react to feedback. You will be better off — and so will those people with whom you interact.

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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