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What We're Reading Now

22 April 2011

 Allison referenced FYI: For Your Improvement by Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger a lot this month and remembered why it made our reading list of our seven all-time favorite books.

Tags: allison read, management and supervision, performance management

When clients see us take FYI: For Your Improvement off the bookshelf, they often say, “Whoa… that’s a BIG book.” And they’re right. It’s more than an inch thick and 580 pages plus appendices, but the good news is that this isn’t a book you read cover to cover. Rather it’s a reference tool you pick up when you need help figuring out how to deliver feedback or addressing one of your own leadership development needs.

Let’s say you have an employee who you wish was more of a ‘self-starter.’ The trouble with words like self-starter is that you can’t look at your employee and say, “Now go ahead and be a self-starter tomorrow, okay?” You know what you mean by self-starting, but the employee may not share your definition. You’ve got to follow the three main rules of effective feedback:

  • Be specific (not general)
  • Be descriptive (not evaluative)
  • Focus on behavior

This list probably makes sense to you, but it’s easier said than done. That’s when you get out your trusty copy of FYI. You won’t find self-starter in the list of 67 competencies, but you will find Action Oriented, Drive for Results, and Time Management all of which have a good chance of being related to what you mean by self-starting. Each competency in the book has about six pages of great information. You’ll find an example of what it looks like when someone is unskilled, skilled, or overusing the skill. These brief descriptions will often give you the words you need to describe the behavior you’d like to see. Then there are specific tips for how to make improvements in the competency as well as a list of suggested readings. Lominger has generously provided a sample chapter on its web site so take a look and see how you can make this work for you.

On the flip slide, let’s say you’ve been given some feedback. Your boss wants you to be a better delegator. You might go to a class on management or pick up some books on the topic, but we find it’s really nice to start your improvement plan, by reading pages 109 – 114. You’ll get a few ideas for things you can start doing differently tomorrow as well as some help coming up with a game plan for a long term change in your management style.

Whether you’re trying to deliver feedback or respond to some feedback you’ve been given, I think you’ll discover that this book will help you to find the words you’re searching for to support the change you desire as well as tangible suggestions of things you and others can do to become better leaders. It’s not easy to give or get difficult feedback so we think it’s nice to have a user’s manual at your fingertips.


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