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Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions)
to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites Issue #42

Could a Feel/Felt/Found be in your FeedForward Future?

FeedForward—the art of coaching feedback that focuses on an employee's learning and development into the future instead of evaluating and judging the individual's performance in the past (back)—has been mentioned a few times before in our CORE Bites TIPS.

In this issue, I'd like to concentrate on Feel/Felt/Found ... a simple, keep-in-your-backpocket technique that's extraordinarily powerful. This approach is a classic objection-handling method that most sales people know about, but—with a few creative tweaks—I've found it to be extremely useful during future-focused coaching sessions with ALL employees.

The reason the Feel/Felt/Found strategy works so well in coaching is managing is not about "you" (as the manager) ... employees want to be heard and understood. Using Feel/Felt/Found demonstrates that you've heard what the employee has said and that you can relate and empathize with the situation (FEEL); it conveys to the employee that he/she is not alone with these feelings and that you or others have experienced this exact (or very similar) circumstance (FELT); and, finally, it lets the employee know that things can change and improve (FOUND).

As in all effective management techniques, the key to successfully using the Feel/Felt/Found strategy is to be sincere. [Note: Recognize that you do not always have to say exactly "Feel, Felt, Found" ... many times it will make sense to just insert alternate words that mean the same thing, such as: "I can relate" or "The solution may be to ...]

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Steps

One of the great things about this technique is that it's easy to implement. Here are a few examples of Feel/Felt/Found future-focused HVA TIPS to help you improve your ability to coach more effectively, build rapport, and earn trust:

  • When an Employee Feels Bad about a Mistake He/She Has Made: "Mike, I understand how you feel. I've felt the same way when I've tried something new that didn't turn out so well. But here's what I've found ... if we don't try new approaches to doing our work, we'll never learn how to be more efficient or effective. These are necessary stepping stones we need to take if we want to grow."
  • When an Employee Feels Overwhelmed by His/Her Current Workload: "Jennifer, I completely understand how you're feeling right now. To be honest, when I had your job there were many times when I felt like I couldn't get everything done. But what I found was, by breaking down my tasks into bite-sized pieces, I was able to better plan and organize and utilize all my resources better. When I did this, I found my workload a lot more manageable. Would it help if you were to look at doing something similar to see how that would work for you?"
  • When an Employee Is Not Taking Initiative: "Mark, I know you're feeling that doing the work that I've assigned you is all that's necessary to be doing a good job ... and I can appreciate why you feel that way. I've talked to other employees over the years who have felt the same way. But here's something I'd like you to consider ... what I've found in this company are the people who take the initiative to look for additional ways to add value are the individuals typically selected for advancement and special projects ... and I know that's important to you. What are some of the things you could do to ...?"

Using Feel/Felt/Found will help you move to a more collaborative discussion and get to better outcomes. Give it a try ...

I'd love to hear how this HVA works for you!

Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA
RESULTant™ and Behavioral Engineer

Quote of the Week

"When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That's when you can get more creative in solving problems."

— Stephen Covey —