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Positive Feedback Mechanisms: Promoting better communication environments in research groups


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Feedback is a critical part of communication and essential to developing the optimal work environment. How do you prepare for giving feedback? How do you respond to feedback? What does a good feedback environment look like? This workshop explored these questions and gave graduate students and postdocs opportunities to practice real-life scenarios giving and receiving feedback.

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Positive Feedback Mechanisms: Promoting better communication environments in research groups

  1. 1. Positive Feedback Mechanisms: Promoting Better Communication Environments in Research Groups Jailza Pauly, PhD February 7, 2015 Copyright © 2015, Jailza Pauly
  2. 2. Today’s Objectives Provide an experiential format in which to: Explore how to foster a climate of feedback in the lab Highlight individual and group processes that impact effective feedback Introduce a set of tools to facilitate giving and receiving effective feedback
  3. 3. Feedback Feedback is information about past performance or behavior, delivered in the present, with the goal of influencing future behavior. Seashore, Seashore, and Weinberg (2003)
  4. 4. Feedback is NOT  Hindsight – telling people what they SHOULD HAVE DONE  Criticism – telling others that what they did was BAD  Direction – telling people what they SHOULD DO Miller, 2010
  5. 5. Perfectly Reasonable People Perfectly Unreasonable People The Rest of Us! Gallagher, 2010
  6. 6. Potential Areas for Group Feedback  How well roles are being executed  How well core work procedures are being deployed  Prioritization  Pace of work  Delegation  Information sharing  Decision making  Quality of meetings  How well relationships are being maintained
  7. 7. Cultivating a Positive Feedback Environment in the Lab  Which activities and practices have the potential to promote an environment of feedback in the lab?  What can I do to facilitate feedback in the lab?
  8. 8. Effective Feedback and its Challenges Effective Feedback Challenges
  9. 9. Cognitive Dynamics Impacting Feedback Feedback Self-Serving Bias Actor/Observe r Bias Positive Self- Perceptions False- consensus Bias Overconfidence Bias Cannon & Witherspoon, 2005
  10. 10. Emotional Dynamics Impacting Feedback Feedback Threats to Self-esteem Threats to Self-efficacy Threats to Identity Stress Flight or Fight Response Cannon & Witherspoon, 2005
  11. 11. Hierarchical Dynamics Impacting Feedback PI Post Doc Grad Student Undergraduate Student Lab Manager PI Post Doc Grad Student Undergraduate Student PI Senior Post Doc Junior Post Doc Graduate Student Grad Student Undergraduate Student
  12. 12. Cultural and Professional Norms + Individual Values Impacting Feedback FeedbackIndividualism vs. Collectivism Hierarchy vs. Equity Task vs. Relationship Orientation Competition vs. Cooperation Internal vs. External Locus of Control Academia vs. Industry Grove & Hallowell , 2004; Stringer & Guy, 1998
  13. 13. The Ladder of Inference Argyres & Schön , 1974
  14. 14. Getting Down the Ladder of Inference  How did I arrive at this conclusion?  What illustrations, examples, etc. would I need to share with the other person in order for him or her to understand why I see it this way?  Under what conditions have I observed this behavior?  What do I see as the specific, undesirable consequences of this behavior?  What would be the most constructive way to help this person achieve better results?  How might my emotions be affecting my evaluation and intentions? Cannon & Witherspoon, 2005
  15. 15. Working with Assumptions Assumptions Either/Or Perspective Relational Perspective ABOUT SUBSTANTIVE DISAGREEMENTS • Assume only one person can be right, and so the other must be wrong • Assume each person sees things the other misses and misses things the other sees • Assume the rightness of one view is a matter of obvious fact, not opinion or interpretation • Assume people’s different beliefs and interests lead them to see the same thing differently ABOUT RELATIONSHIP TROUBLES • Assume one or another person is causing the difficulty: “He is making the other feel this or do that”, “She gave the other no choice” • Assume each person is contributing to the difficulties; “They are each making it hard for the other to be at their best” • Assume that one or the other is mad or bad – that is crazy, stupid, incompetent or immoral • Assume they are each doing their best they can do and could use your help Smith, 2008
  16. 16. Making Feedback Effective for Groups What How Example CULTIVATE A FEEDBACK CLIMATE Foster a collaborative team environment in which feedback is intended to aid in learning, growth, and adaptation. Feedback orientations of punishment, fear, judgment, or critique will not promote effective group feedback. • Feedback is ongoing and frequent • The lab environment is safe for people to give and receive feedback collectively as well as individually • Failure and challenges are perceived as an opportunity for learning SPECIFY BEHAVIOR Clearly and directly express what you’ve experienced that the person has or hasn’t done without judgment. Start with “I” statements. • “I noticed you did not bring the literature review and results from the other experiments, even though you agreed to do so in our last meeting.” DESCRIBE IMPACT Clarify how the behavior impacts the work being done in the team or how it affects you personally. • “This is making difficult for us to to go beyond description of the data to generate high quality insights.” INQUIRE, EMPATHIZE, UNDERSTAND Be aware that we often make assumptions and misattributions about behavior. Consider feedback as a way to directly articulate your experience and to better understand the experience and perspectives of the others. • “Are there competing priorities we need to consider?” • “Is there a way we could make changes that would make it easier for all us to prepare for the meeting?” ACTIVELY LISTEN & ESTABLISH A DIALOGUE Actively listen to the others perspective without interruption. Establish a dialogue about the feedback to help arrive at a joint solution. • “It seems we have different ways of prioritizing tasks related to this project. Should we go around and quickly share where this project fits into our goals for the semester?” IDENTIFY PREFERRED FUTURE BEHAVIOR (S) Identify the preferred future behavior(s). Clearly state the outcome that is expected. Agree on next steps. • “Before we agree on any task for the next meetings, we will take a moment to review other commitments we have made. We will only say yes to tasks we can complete at least 24hrs in advance of the meetings.“ Adapted from Berkeley-Haas MBA Team Survival Kit, 2010 & Pearce, 2014
  17. 17. Feedback Delivery Modes Negative Positive IndirectDirect Asmuß, 2008
  18. 18. Ineffective Feedback  You’re really an enthusiastic person!  Jane is just not a team player.  It was great that you had a lot of details in your report.  Lane is unprofessional.  You were looking out the window during the lab meeting. You looked really bored, like you were thinking about things unrelated to what was being discussed.
  19. 19. Ineffective Feedback  Attacks the person rather than the person’s behavior  Vague or abstract assertions  Without illustrations  Ill-defined range of application  Unclear impact and implications for action Cannon & Witherspoon, 2005
  20. 20. Making Feedback Effective  Observable Behavior  When I see/ When I hear…  Effect of Behavior  I notice that…  I feel…  Preferred Future Behavior/Alternative  I would appreciate it if you…  The team would benefit from…
  21. 21. BET Feedback Method B (behavior) Specific, detailed observations E (effect) On the individual and/or team T (thank you!) Demonstrate appreciation Harms & Roebuck, 2009
  22. 22. BET Example Behavior “Your willingness to teach us the techniques you learned at the conference helped our group develop better ways to analyze our samples.” Effect “Our success completing the experiments for the paper was due in large part to the insights we gained based on what you taught us. “ Thank you! “Thank you!”
  23. 23. 5:1 Rule
  24. 24. BEAR Feedback Method B (behavior) Specific, detailed observations E (effect) On the individual and/or team A (alternative) Suggestion Impact of alternative on individual and/or team Timeframe for change R (result) Broader results/consequences Harms & Roebuck, 2009
  25. 25. BEAR Example Behavior “I have noticed that you were late 5 out of 6 of our team meetings.” Effect “When you are not on time for our meetings our group has to wait until you arrive, which either causes the meeting to run late or we don’t cover all topics. “ Alternative “I would like to see you arrive on time for next meetings. If you need us to change the start time, we could do that.” Result “If you arrive on time, our team will be better able to accomplish our targets.”
  26. 26. BEAR Example Behavior “During this morning’s presentation, I observed that you held a side conversation with Jim for the first 10 minutes. After that, you chatted with Mary on and off for the rest of the talk.” Effect “I was frustrated because I could not hear what the presenter was saying. Several people also asked you to be quiet. “ Alternative “What are some ways you can focus your attention during the meeting and you get to connect with your colleagues?” Result “If you agree to hold your side bar conversations at another time, that will improve the atmosphere in our meetings.”
  27. 27. Receiving Feedback  First, listen!  Try to see the “big picture” and do not get stuck on details.  The feedback you receive from colleagues, instructors, your PI will likely differ. After all, they interact with you and see you from different perspectives.  Given these differences, it is not appropriate to invalidate/disregard one set of feedback because they are not similar to the others.  Do not automatically reject any feedback.
  28. 28. A Healthier Way to Receive Feedback  Could you give me an example of the behavior that concerns you?  Can you help me understand how you came to that conclusion?  Can you help me understand the situations in which you have seen the behavior and what you see as the impact?  Can you clarify what you would like to see me do differently?
  29. 29. Reducing your Blind Spots My Blind Spots The Arena The Unknown The facade What others see What I see Not seen clearly Seen very clearly Seen very clearly
  30. 30. Reducing your Blind Spots My Blind Spots The Arena The Unknown The facade What others see What I see Not seen clearly Seen very clearly Seen very clearly
  31. 31. Actively Seeking Feedback for Professional Development  Identify the area of interest for feedback  Choose the people who will provide you feedback  Hold the conversations  Ask open-ended questions  Take notes  Thank the feedback providers  Integrate the data  Take action
  32. 32. Feedforward Goldsmith, 2007 Pick the one behavior you would like to change Describe this objective Ask for two suggestions for the future Listen. Say thank you!