Monday, 6 April 2009

The GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY

Here is an idea that I have used a few times. It originated from a peer at a management forum a few years ago.

Quite simply this brave soul had asked a number of her direct reports to get into a room with three pieces of butchers paper. One titled ‘The Good’, another ‘The Bad’ and finally ‘The Ugly’.

She then asked her team to provide her with some written feedback. At the end of this session the nominated lead of the group rolled the papers up and returned them to the manager.

Our intrepid manager admitted she took these pages home, sat down with her preferred vice (good glass of red wine from memory) to absorb the answers and advice she had been given.

This I thought was a brilliant idea, I’ve tried it a couple of times since and have found it of considerable value each time. Trying this approach again recently I thought it would only be fair to let you know of the idea, as yet again I definitely got some value from it.

In reality it doesn’t get any more complex than what was described above, you could do this with a team, or with an individual (my recent one was). Simply providing the following description for each of the components:

• The Good – Tell me what I do really well and what I should do more of?
• The Bad – Let me know things that I do that need to be done yet could be done better if I am a little more conscious of this shortfall.
• The Ugly – STOP DOING IT!! i.e. what should I outright stop doing, never to be seen again.

Obviously these can be quite confronting, especially if you’ve just run a hard exercise, made some hard call’s or really just been hard nosed. This process does normally (can’t guarantee) you’ll get something on the other two pages. It is human nature to be task driven, and a blank page under any title will leave them feeling the task is incomplete.

Here are a couple of cardinal rules for this process:
1. Leave the room – you’ll get more honest answers doing this.
2. Read the results at YOUR leisure.
3. Ask (don’t assume) if you can re-visit your feedback with the team/individual at a later date.
4. Ask for at-least one item under each title

That is really as complex as the whole scenario gets. I have received some very valid feedback using this approach, and when you are a mid level to senior manager this sort of feedback is uncommon. So give it a bash - open yourself up to some good healthy feedback.



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