Episode 212: Russell Pereira on 7 Mistakes You're Making That Are Limiting Your Success With A-Player Employees

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Russell Pereira is an advisor to VP's and SVP's on effective communication skills to fast track your career by cultivating your A-Players for more success and managing your under-performers more effectively.


  • How to get employees to do things right the first time
  • 7 Mistakes VP's make when giving feedback
  • How to be politically savvy with senior management to fast track your career

If you've been using the "Feeback Sandwich" strategy, you are shooting yourself in the foot.

Try Russell's new Feedback/Feedforward strategy to get your team humming in high gear.

As a mentor to Veeps, Russell can make everything you communicate, up and down your organization, more effective, efficient and valuable.

Tune in for this valuable interview with one of the country's best management consultants.


Susan Bratton: Welcome to DishyMix. I’m your host, Susan Bratton, and on today’s show you’re going to get to meet a friend of mine, Russell Pereira. Russell has a website called A-PlayerMaker.com, and he’s essentially a management consultant who has specialized in inter organizational communications, which means how to talk to the people you work with so you can get your job done and get a promotion. And Russell’s just a super cool dude. He’s from Australia, and he’s marrying one of my girlfriends. And I got on to, you know, meeting him and learning more about what he did, and I said, “I would really love you to come on DishyMix,” because you know me, I love communication strategies and persuasion and empathy and leadership and salesmanship and I think so much of what we do and so much of our success as marketers and entrepreneurs has to come with our ability to communicate not just to our customers and our prospects, but to the people that we work with. And that’s Russell’s expertise.

He’s like an advisor, a mentor. You know, he doesn’t want me to call him a coach ‘cause he’s way higher level than that, but you know, a coach is a person that makes you feel really good about what you do and has success, and so there’s a little bit of that in here too. So I’ve got you an inside track with Russell Pereira, and we’re going to talk about some communication skills that work specifically and particularly well within organizations, both managing up and managing down, which if you’re like me is what you’re doing all day long. All right, so lets get Russell on the show. Welcome Russell.

Russell Pereira: Good day Susan. How are you?

Susan Bratton: You had to hit us with “Good day” didn’t you? You didn’t say, “Good day mate,” ‘cause I’m not a mate, right?

Russell Pereira: No, not you. You’re a Sheila.

Susan Bratton: I’m a Sheila. I love it. Well I just got back from Australia, so this is just perfect timing because, you know, I went on a speaking tour doing this persuasion marketing speech. I did it at [inaudible] and I did it for Australian Direct Marketing Association, and you can actually access that speech at conversiontriggers.com by the way. I posted it there if you want that. And I was driving to the airport calling everyone, saying “Thank you so much for having me” and missing them, and crying leaving Australia because I loved it so much and the people and my friends there are so great. And here you come right the next day that I get home and say, “Hey, what are you doing? Can I come over and hang out with you?” And you were exactly what I needed to hear. I needed to hear that beautiful Australian accent for my easy reentry into the State.

Russell Pereira: Nice soft-landing, yeah?

Susan Bratton: Exactly. So the A player maker, Russell what you really started doing was helping management level, usually VP level people in organizations work with both their performers to make them even better and their under performers to fix them or get them out, right?

Russell Pereira: Yup, you got it.

Susan Bratton: So what you’re really doing is helping managers manage their talent, right?

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: And doing it by teaching them some key communication skills.

Russell Pereira: Exactly.

Susan Bratton: So today on DishyMix you have three things that you’re going to kind of explain at a top line and then we’re going to do a kind of a deep dive in one of them. Why don’t you go through, you know, when you’re helping people what are the three big areas that you tackle with VP’s in organizations.

Russell Pereira: Sure. Okay, so, you know, overall I’m there to help managers/employees with better communication so they can be more efficient and make more money faster. And the three ways I do this at the VP level is firstly to get their employees to do things right the first time so that they avoid making costly mistakes and wasting time and missing deadlines. Secondly I show them how to avoid making costly mistakes when it’s time to give feedback to their employees, and to do that so that their high performers stick around and thrive and the under performers either turn around or leave the company graciously. And then finally, I teach the VP’s how to be politically savvy in how they relate to senior management so that they can fast track their careers.

Susan Bratton: So when you’re working with someone are you working with them one on one or with their team or both? How does it work?

Russell Pereira: I do it both. It really is customized to a client, but generally speaking if I’m working with a whole management team I will work with them as a group initially to give them some very specific frameworks on how they can improve their performance and the way they manage their people as well as their own performance. And then I back that up with one on one coaching to ensure that what they learn from the training actually gets implemented using their real life situations.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, that’s good. When I think about you I almost think about you in some ways as being like a crisis manager, you know. If you’ve got some problem children or you’ve got senior staff breathing down your neck and you’re not meeting your deliverables or you have some issues of integrity within the organization or some people who just don’t communicate well or they do the runaround, the end run on you or whatever, it seems like a lot of times people call you up and there are problems afoot. Is that pretty much true?

Russell Pereira: Yeah. In Australia I have a nickname of the “crisis coach.” So that’s usually how I do get brought in, when something has flared up. And so I’ll come in and usually in about 60 minutes be able to show the manager how to go about handling the situation, and so they can walk away knowing exactly what to do. But then after that and spending a little bit more time I get the opportunity to be invited back to then show the whole management team how they could be improving the way they systematically mange their peoples performance so they can avoid making all these mistakes in the first place.

Susan Bratton: Now are you, I don’t see, when I think about managing peoples performance I often think that’s kind of the role of HR. But you really work directly with mid to high-level management or CEO’s or presidents of company, right?

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: And so they want to take the stuff into their own hands and have this training. It might not necessarily be something that’s corporate wide. They want a competitive edge, is that right?

Russell Pereira: Yeah. So actually it’s a good point you’ve raised. I should probably define what I mean by managing performance.

Susan Bratton: Okay.

Russell Pereira: Okay, so it’s not really managing performance in a formal context, it’s really the day to day interaction between management and employees to ensure stuff gets done, deadlines are met, targets are met, etcetera, etcetera. So and it’s usually all the soft skills that are involved in day-to-day interactions. That’s what I focus on. So when it comes to having those difficult conversations like how do you give feedback to a star performer whose maybe not playing by the rules and you maybe don’t want to get them defensive because you’re afraid they might leave. You know, how do you have that conversation? That’s what I focus on and I can literally coach a manger word for word what they need to be saying, but then teach them the system of what I was doing so that they learn it forever and a day moving forward.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, I like your strategy of giving people the model that will work, the framework that will work going forward, like showing them the application for the crisis but then giving them the framework. And I really want to get to this feedback model
‘cause you’ve laid it out for me a bit before the show and I really want to go into a deep dive there, but before we do would you just go one level deeper into this employees doing things right the first time and just give us some sense of how you coach managers to communicate more effectively…

Russell Pereira: Sure.

Susan Bratton: to their employees? Great.

Russell Pereira: Absolutely. So when it comes to the game of management, I keep it pretty simple. The role of the manager is to turn resources into results, okay. And…

Susan Bratton: Easier said than done Russell.

Russell Pereira: Of course.  All right, that…

Susan Bratton: That’s why you’re here.

Russell Pereira: I said it’s simple, not easy. Okay, so it’s just about turning resources into results, and of those resources obviously people are there and they’re the most important because they create all the other resources and most importantly they’re the only resource that can self-improve, right. So…

Susan Bratton: Although there’s Google’s automatic web optimization, so there maybe are a couple…

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: machines that are out there doing it for us now, but you’re right. The wet ware, the real people, yeah, they can do it themselves if they’re given the right tools. That’s brilliant. All right.

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: So what do you do?

Russell Pereira: So then to, for any manager, and if you’re listening and you’re a manager there’s really two questions you need to ask yourself, or two questions, sorry, you need to be able to answer for your employees. And if you can answer these two questions consistently for all of your employees, you can be guaranteed you’re doing a good job.

Susan Bratton: Uh oh, all right. What are they? We’re going to be screwing some stuff up here, don’t you think?

Russell Pereira: We’re going pretty simple here, right.

Susan Bratton: All right.

Russell Pereira: First question here is what do you want me to do, and the second question is how am I doing?

Susan Bratton: Okay, how am I doing?

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: What do you want me to do and how am I doing.

Russell Pereira: How am I doing. So…

Susan Bratton: And you have to answer that for every individual employee.

Russell Pereira: For every individual employee.

Susan Bratton: In a very crisp way…

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: which is where the problem arises.

Russell Pereira: Correct.

Susan Bratton: Okay.

Russell Pereira: So the first problem arises with that first question, which is really all about setting clear expectations, all right. And usually at least 50 percent of the time when I’m working one on one with a manager and they are telling me they have a problem with a particular employee, by the time we drill down into they come to the realization that they haven’t been clear in the first place in outline what the expectations are.

Susan Bratton: This is just like training your dog Russell. I mean, you know, it’s not the dog that makes the mistake, it’s the trainer, it’s the master, right.

Russell Pereira: Right.

Susan Bratton: Oh yeah, I learned that in puppy obedience school. It’s the same thing.

Russell Pereira: Well apparently human beings are only about four percent away from being chimps in terms of their DNA, so… Yeah, so when it comes to then actually setting clear expectations, I use a particular model to ensure that if a manager’s, if you’re following it, again it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ve been clear and comprehensive in delegating a task or allocating some sort of assignment regardless of how simple or complex it may be, and by doing that consistently it just reduces the probability of you being part of the problem in the first place.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, it completely makes sense. All right, so that’s one of the things that you teach both management and teams is this idea of getting it right the first time by doing one – say it again – number one is?

Russell Pereira: Okay, answering this question of what do you want me to do?

Susan Bratton: What do you want me to do, so being clear in that. And then how am I doing? How am I doing?

Russell Pereira: How am I doing, yeah.

Susan Bratton: doing the thing that you asked.

Russell Pereira: Yeah, which is really two key skills there involved. One is actually being able to analyze the performance against the expectations, and then make a judgment on how well it’s doing, okay. And then secondly, based on what you’re observing choosing the appropriate response. Okay, so when you’re analyzing an employee’s performance – and as a manager you’re doing this everyday, right, and there’s only ever three outcomes. What you’re observing is either meeting expectations, not meeting expectations or it’s exceeding expectations.

In every case, use the manager, have the opportunity to give feedback. If it’s not meeting expectations you can learn how to give corrective feedback so that they are meeting expectations. And if they are meeting or even exceeding expectations you can learn to give positive feedback. Now positive feedback isn’t just a pat on the back and saying, you know, “Well done, great job,” ‘cause there’s nothing useful or insightful about that. Nothing wrong with giving positive reinforcement, but if the person’s potential is way up here what you want to do when you’re giving positive feedback is two things. One, you want to acknowledge a great performance, but secondly you want to include some sort of a stretch goal that they’re motivated by to help close the gap between where they’re at and their full potential, because in my books your role as a manager is not just to get your people to do the job; it’s about developing them to their full potential.

Susan Bratton: Definitely. And I know we’re going to get into the giving feedback because that’s really a big core of what you teach. All of this stuff comes from those micro corrections and micro information bits, doesn’t it?

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: All that communication. So lets come back to and save the best for last, the seven mistakes managers make when their giving feedback, because I’ll tell you when I laid out what I had learned about giving feedback, you’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s the worse way to do it.” And I’m like, “Oh, I better get Russell on the show.” So lets talk about that politically savvy VP level person who wants to fast track their career. What kind of things are you doing to help them? So they bring you in, maybe they’ve got some problems, and that’s great. You’re helping them learn how to communicate with, you know, up the food chain, down the food chain, that’s kind of your sweet spot, you know, those people who are in the like pressure cooker. Maybe there’s not, you’ve noticed it. You’ve even said to me, there’s very little corporate training in all these entrepreneurial companies, you know. There’s not a lot of that out there.

So the chances of a VP having any kind of communication skills training, you know, it’s not what we learned in college and we’re not getting taught at work. And so what is it that you teach your customers, if you will, as you’re helping them so that they can get ahead, they can fast track their career? What kind of things do you do with them?

Russell Pereira: Okay, in the context of being politically savvy, this is really about two things. It’s about getting results but getting results and building strong relationships at the same time, okay. That’s what it means to be politically savvy by my definition. So it requires you to get results but have very strong influencing, very strong relationship building skills in the process, and the biggest mistake VP’s or people at VP level would make is that they tend to put the business issue before the relationship. And whenever there’s a big problem, it’s kind of like, “Hey look, we’ve got these big problem. What do we need to do? Lets get it fixed.” And along the way they fail to build a relationship, and the relationship, I liken it to if you can imagine a bridge, okay, that carries heavy loads or cargo over it, the relationship is tantamount to the bridge, and every conversation that you have with any of your critical business relationships is almost like putting another support beam under the bridge.

So if you identify who your critical business relationships are – and there’s only a handful of them, and when I say critical I mean you can’t do your job effectively at all if you don’t have strong healthy intact relationships with these people. So you want to be able to ensure that every time you’re communication with them, regardless of how trivial it may be, it’s a positive interaction because that all along the way starts to strut up that bridge and prop it up so that in the event of a heavy issue being brought across that bridge you’ve done the groundwork. You’ve got the insurance points to carry that heavy load. And that’s the biggest mistake managers make.

Susan Bratton: So there are some nuances to communication that engender likeability within an organization, or some ways that you teach us how to not only increase relationship but the likeability, ‘cause when it gets tough and there’s this scarcity mentality and there’s a fixed pie of budget and somebody’s fighting over resources, you’re going to get screwed by the people who don’t have a good relationship with you. So what you’re doing is a systematic approach to help that VP understand how they can create solid bridges so that when disaster strikes they don’t, they’re not the ones…

Russell Pereira: Absolutely.

Susan Bratton: whose bridges get blown up.

Russell Pereira: Absolutely and it really involves two components.

Susan Bratton: Okay.

Russell Pereira: What I call openness and honesty, and they’re two different things.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, there’s not a lot of that happening in the corporate world, openness and honesty. Are you sure we can do that in America, are you sure it’s not Australian?

Russell Pereira: We can change it to safe and real, all right?

Susan Bratton: Yeah, I think you might have to.

Russell Pereira: All right, so in order to be real with someone you need to create an environment where both of you feel safe to talk about anything. So in other words, you need to, before you can be real you need to be safe or before you can have truth you got to have trust, okay. So when working with managers what I do is show them conversationally how to create an environment of safety around an issue. Once they’ve been able to establish that, they can then drill down and get more real around an issue, all right. And at the same time or at all times during the conversation I show them how to assess the safety and to notice just micro changes that could lead to the dialogue moving at risk. And then if it does move at risk I’ll give them three ways of how to recover and regain safety so they can get back on track.

Susan Bratton: Now when you work with somebody how often – and I really want to get to the seven mistakes – but how often are you working with an executive? Are you having like a weekly meeting with them or what’s a typical engagement look like or what are some of the kinds of engagements that you have? Like how could a person structure a relationship with you so you could help them fix employee problems, get their A players to be even higher performers, get rid of their crapola people or remediate them and create all this likeability and trust and authenticity so they get extra resources and they have more success?

Russell Pereira: Sure.

Susan Bratton: What’s that look like?

Russell Pereira: Okay, for me I work with a very specific type of client.

Susan Bratton: Okay.

Russell Pereira: So, and demographically yes, it’s at the VP level, but psychographically it’s like a professional athlete, okay, so someone who is highly motivated. Motivation is not a problem for them. Whatever it is that’s driving them, if it’s, you know, becoming better than what they are now, climbing that ladder. They are driven to succeed. And what I do is literally treat them like a professional athlete. They are already competent at what they do, so they can get by without me, so what I offer is an invitation to say, “How much better do you want to get?” Okay, so when I’m working with a professional athlete or a corporate athlete in this case, the relationship really is there to last until one of us dies…

Susan Bratton: That’s nice.

Russell Pereira: Okay?

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Russell Pereira: And…

Susan Bratton: I think you’ve had some of your clients for a long time.

Russell Pereira: I have, yes.

Susan Bratton: Uh huh.

Russell Pereira: And the interventions, typically it’s on a monthly retainer and we’ll have anywhere from zero to three sessions in a month. And it’s driven by them based on what they need learning on – either short-term problems with employees that they need to get resolutions on right away, or developing their A game over the long-term so they can make the next step career-wise.

Susan Bratton: Nice! Yeah, so they could bring you into work with their employees or they could keep them all to themselves just to deal with their crises or just to develop them at a fundamental level so they’re more – or all of those things, right. That’s nice. Yeah.

Russell Pereira: Or alternatively if it is for a whole management team, I’ve done dozens and dozens of management teams, and that works really effectively to make a lot of traction in the whole organization.

Susan Bratton: I bet. Giving them all the basic structures and models so that they can communicate effectively altogether.

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: Oh yeah, I bet you really like that. It must be nice when you get your hands on a whole management team.

Russell Pereira: I’ll tell you what; it is really fun to see the dynamics. I recall one situation where I was training, doing some training and coaching for a large bank in Australia, and I was working with a lot of call center managers, and they went through the program. And one of them didn’t attend, and so they all worked shifts around the call center. And I had all the others applying the skills, and one of the issues was getting countless questions from their employees, which was just chewing up time. And what happened, the ones that I taught the skill of intelligent problems solving, which is one of a suite of skills that I teach them, what they noticed within two weeks was that employees were no longer coming to them with so many questions. In fact, they were starting to solve problems for themselves, and it was this one manager that didn’t participate in the course was now the go-to person for all the employees.

Susan Bratton: Oh, ‘cause that was the one who didn’t know how to say no.

Russell Pereira: He didn’t know how to say no and he was just getting loaded up and wondering, “What’s going on.

Susan Bratton: I’ll be darned, that’s…

Russell Pereira: So it’s like really funny to watch the dynamics.

Susan Bratton: It works. Yeah, I love models. I mean I think, you know, we can learn so many models for behavior. What you’re really teaching is behavior, you know, how to cultivate the kind of behavior you want in your corporate culture.

Russell Pereira: It is. It’s totally that. It’s, and it’s just, I mean I get a lot of senior execs coming to me after they’ve done some sort of profiling, whether it’s a disc profile…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Russell Pereira: or some other type of profile.

Susan Bratton: Yeah. Myers-Briggs, whatever.

Russell Pereira: Exactly. And that’s not my expertise. I’m…

Susan Bratton: I know, it’s so popular that stuff, isn’t it?

Russell Pereira: Yeah. I’m really the person that comes in after that to say, “Right, given that how does that actually play out in your behavior at work and what would you like to see happen differently?” ‘Cause ultimately that’s the level we all need to be operating at.

Susan Bratton: Yeah. All right, I want to get to the seven mistakes managers make when giving feedback, ‘cause you’ve got a good model and you’re willing to share that with us today. And I want to save enough time to talk about, I’m really interested at least even so far, ‘cause you’re pretty fresh here to the U.S. management style, I do want to hear maybe just like a couple of things you’ve noticed about the differences now that you’ve been, you know, puttering around Silicon Valley and you’ve been working for Zappos, you’ve been working for a lot of different companies while you’ve been here already…

Russell Pereira: Yeah, Pixar.

Susan Bratton: Pixar. So, you know, you’ve had some, you’ve had a wide range of exposure; I want to hear what those differences are. But lets get to the seven mistakes managers make. Tell us what we’re doing wrong and tell us what to do right. And I’m just going to let you take the floor here and really just give us a bit of a crash course.

Russell Pereira: Yeah, well I suppose certainly I’ve spent a lot of time recently here in Silicon Valley, and one of the things I’ve noticed it is obviously the startup capital of the world. So, you know, having come from an environment where I worked with also really large, like multi billion dollar companies, one of the big things that’s a difference is the lack of staff development that goes up at startup level, and even as the organization grows because it’s not really part of the mindset. And yet when you read the research from VC’s and angels about what is their biggest issue, it all points back down to…

Susan Bratton: It’s talent.

Russell Pereira: talent.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Russell Pereira: A quality management team. So I think it’s quite ironic, and I’ve just been, you know, trying to, I’ve done a lot of other interviews with other people just to find out for myself where’s the disconnect here. And again, I just don’t see it in the consciousness as being that important, and I’m not sure if it’s just a case of, “Well, we’re not interested in developing staff because all we want to do is grow this company and sell it and make a buck out of it.” If that’s the case well that’s maybe the way it is, but I’d have to sort of question, you know, how sustainable is it going to be in the long run.

Susan Bratton: Usually when organizations get large enough they bring in training…

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: you know, once they’ve gotten established, but you’re right. In the early days, I think you might’ve even mentioned the word cowboys or something like that.

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: We definitely…

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: do tend toward that way just churning burn, bring your people with you that you already know how to communicate with, you know. We move together in tribes and teams ‘cause we’ve figured out at least how to communicate with each other and we’ve got that trust.

Russell Pereira: Yes.

Susan Bratton: So we’re doing that instead of training, which isn’t good, it’s just what is. Definitely.

Russell Pereira: Yeah. And look, and one thing I’ve also been really impressed with is just how highly collaborative the teams are here.

Susan Bratton: They are.

Russell Pereira: And that is real impressive. Certainly an absolutely standout.

Susan Bratton: Oh good.

Russell Pereira: And, yeah. And I really feel for the teams here. They’re working at such a fast pace, and it’s interesting that there’s a lot of burnout that happens, people working prodigious hours. And sometimes I do sit back and say, “Well if you could even take the time to step back and just look at how you can approach things a little bit differently through learning certain skills that get taught in the larger organizations, it can alleviate a lot of that stress and pressure.”

Susan Bratton: Yeah, take a couple of hours to learn your models and you’ll be ultimately more successful.

Russell Pereira: Mm hmm. But, you know, that’s a challenge because that’s been taking the eye off trying to get resources or getting results to then focusing on how those results are being achieved through those resources, i.e., people.

Susan Bratton: Well listen, if you can keep people from blowing your stuff up and you can get your A players more productive, it’s definitely time well spent. All right, lets get to the mistakes the managers make. What are the seven mistakes? What are we screwing up Russell and how do we fix it?

Russell Pereira: Okay, mistake number one is not giving the feedback at all in the first place.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, being afraid of any conflict. There are a lot of people who they just whine and moan and they never just say what the problem is.

Russell Pereira: Yeah. A survey of over 3,600 employees across 291 companies reveal that 66 percent of employees say they get too little feedback from their boss, all right. And funnily enough though too little feedback and coaching is the number three of the top three, of the third reason why most employees leave, contrary to what bosses think.

Susan Bratton: So the more feedback the better. Let people know how they’re doing, whether it’s good or bad. And usually it’s not that good. And so people are adverse to giving feedback. And so how do we do it? Well you do your seven things, but I know you’re going to get to that.

Russell Pereira: Yeah, so number one is not giving it at all. Number two is just putting it off and delaying it to the point where the first time something is mentioned is perhaps in the performance review, which is not the time to be giving new feedback. Number three would be in the attempt of giving feedback is being too vague on the issue. And the problem with that is it creates defensiveness straight away. Number four is using what I call rated language. So this can be done in both positive and negative feedback where you might say, “Hey good job,” or “I didn’t like what I saw there.” Either way there’s nothing insightful or actionable in that language. It’s called rated language.

Susan Bratton: You have to have specifics.

Russell Pereira: Correct.

Susan Bratton: “This is specifically what I liked or didn’t like.”

Russell Pereira: Yes. And go into describing the factual observations. In other words, what you actually saw with your eyes or heard with your ears, okay. Number five, we’re sugar coating the words. And this used to be taught in management training. It probably still is in a few places, the old feedback sandwich.

Susan Bratton: That’s what I’ve been doing.

Russell Pereira: Right.

Susan Bratton: Mm hmm.

Russell Pereira: Okay?

Susan Bratton: Well you better describe what it is in case somebody doesn’t know what that is.

Russell Pereira: All right, so a feedback sandwich is when you want to give some corrective feedback but you start the conversation by talking about something that they’ve done that’s good. Then you introduce the part that needs improvement, and then you finish off with a real positive statement at the end, okay. To me it’s one of the most disrespectful things you can do as a manager, and let me tell you why, all right. What you’re really saying when you apply the feedback sandwich is you’re saying to the receiver of your feedback that, “I don’t think that you have the emotional maturity to handle the truth of what I’m about to tell you.” And if you don’t think that’s disrespectful, how do you like it when it’s done to you, okay?

So there’s a big difference between being direct and being blunt in your communication when you’re giving feedback, and it has nothing to do with your choice of words. It has everything to do with how you say the words. So that’s what I spend a lot of time with managers on, especially one on one, on improving their ability to be 100 percent firm on the issue, yet at the same time being 100 percent soft on the person. And that’s a skill that can be developed. So then moving on, number six is rescuing with solutions. Big mistake managers make because they feel it’s part of their job to jump in when they’re giving feedback and tell them what they need to be doing to correct themselves. The problem with that is that you’re now training your employees to expect solutions from you, and once you do it with one they start spreading the word, “Hey look, if you’ve got a problem go and see the boss because they’re great at fixing it.” What ends up happening? Who ends up staying back after work to catch up on their own work because they’re too busy putting out fires all through the day? Okay, you got it? So you want to avoid doing that.

You want to learn how to harness the intellectual capital of your organization, because how many ideas are just lying dormant because we don’t tap into that well enough? So that’s number six. And number seven is really assuming that your feedback is the truth, okay. Now remember, your feedback is not the truth; it is only your perception. So the way this plays out as a mistake is that the receiver or the employee never gets an opportunity to tell their side of the story. And so it’s only normal that they’re going to get defensive or it’s going to increase the probability of them getting defensive. So they’re the seven mistakes.

Susan Bratton: That was good, and I think I’ve made all of them. I’m sure you have if you’re listening. So there was a two-step feedback system that you teach. There was like the – how did it work? There was a model you were explaining. Can you…?

Russell Pereira: Yeah. So what I do when I’m teaching managers how to give feedback…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Russell Pereira: I teach them how to give feedback in just two conversations.

Susan Bratton: That was it, the feedback in two conversations so it can be effective and done.

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: Okay, can you tell us more about that?

Russell Pereira: Sure.

Susan Bratton: Okay.

Russell Pereira: So there’s what’s called the, there’s two conversations. There’s the first conversation is what I call the feed back conversation. And the second conversation is what I call the feed forward conversation, right. So in the feed back conversation there’s three steps, and what you’re trying to do here is simply relay back your observations to the employee, all right. And then you’re feeding forward in the second conversation to a solution.

Susan Bratton: All right, now how does that go against what you just said, which was don’t try to solve it for them? So when you’re feeding forward into a solution are you saying, “And I want you to figure out how to fix this problem you’ve created,” or what?

Russell Pereira: No, what you’ll be saying…

Susan Bratton: [Inaudible], I totally know. Luckily you’re such a lovely person with such a nice way to say things. So how do you do it.

Russell Pereira: Okay. All right, so the feed, okay, just going on the first step or the first conversation, first step – there’s three parts. Step number one is to specifically state the issue you want to give feedback on and state your intended outcome. So hey Susan, I want to give you some feedback on the notes you’re taking there and the lack of detail so that we can ensure that moving forward when this becomes a full report that we’ve got all the detail that we need, okay. Step number two is then telling your side of the story. In other words, stating the facts, impacts and feelings. So what are your factual observations, ‘cause it’s good to start with the facts because that’s neutral? Then describe the impacts, and the impacts can be the current impact of what’s happening, as well as potential impacts, if it was to continue. And the last thing is to state your feelings, and describe them rationally because your employees care how you feel about their performance. So if you’re disappointed or concerned, you can state that. If you are thrilled by a great performance, state that. And then finally, once you’ve done that you then get their viewpoint on their feedback, okay. This is the point where you are testing for a gap in perception, because remember your feedback is not the truth; it is your perception of the truth. So that would sound something like, “Hey look, so this is how I see it. How do you see it?”  Okay. Then you zip it and give them an opportunity to respond. That completes the feed back conversation.

Now to start the feed forward conversation you start by generating solutions. And you would start by asking them an open question like, “Okay, so look, tell me what are your suggestions on how to deal with this?” And from there flush out some options on the table. And if they get stuck, don’t jump in and tell them what they need to be doing. Keep your suggestion up your sleeve, and then first ask their permission to offer them a suggestion. So say something like, “Hey look, I’ve got a suggestion, would you like to hear it?” The beautiful thing about doing that is that it keeps the ownership of the solution with them, which is what you want to see happen. So of course they’re going to say yes if they don’t have an answer. Then you just put your suggestion up for consideration. “Hey Susan, what I suggest, you know, you consider doing is X, Y, Z.” Okay, so now there’s three suggestions here on the table, which of these do you think would be best to run with? So that’s step, the first step of the feed forward conversation. Then get agreement, okay. That’s the second step. “Okay, so can we agree that that’s what you’ll do moving forward?”  Okay? This is really important because once you’ve got agreement what you’ve automatically done is set another expectation, which you can give feedback against or confront if it’s still an ongoing performance issue.

And then finally, you want to finish on a positive note, a positive and supportive note. So what does that sound like? It sounds something along the lines of, “Hey, so how comfortable are you in doing that?” And they’ll either say yes or no, either they are feeling comfortable or not. If they’re not, you can just say, “Okay, well what needs to happen for you to feel comfortable? And what assistance, if any, would you like from me?” Okay, and if there’s any assistance required, set a follow up date or help them there and then. And if they are feeling comfortable but you’re still not sure, you can always say, “Okay, great, show me what you do,” okay. Or you can just send them on their way.

Susan Bratton: I think it would be super helpful to have like a little pocket card or a little thing I could put in my office that had those steps in it so that before I learn the model I would be able to have each of those steps written out. Have you ever made anything like that?

Russell Pereira: Yes I have.

Susan Bratton: Oh great.

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: So maybe you could give me a copy of that.

Russell Pereira: I certainly will.

Susan Bratton: And would that be something that I could share with my DishyMix listeners?

Russell Pereira: Yeah, I’d be more than happy to.

Susan Bratton: Okay. So maybe I could make that something that they can, I’ll post it on the DishyMix fan page for people to grab a link to your site when it goes live. You want to put it on your site or do you want me to put it on mine or…?

Russell Pereira: Either’s fine.

Susan Bratton: You know what, we’ll put it on your site.

Russell Pereira: Yup.

Susan Bratton: And then I’ll put a link there so they can go download that thing.

Russell Pereira: Okay.

Susan Bratton: Would that be okay?

Russell Pereira: Fantastic Susan.

Susan Bratton: That’d be really great. I like those cheat sheets. Until you learn a model, sometimes when it’s new, it’s actually a lot to remember. Like as you were saying it, it completely made sense to me…

Russell Pereira: Mm hmm.

Susan Bratton: And I can see how if you really have critical problems with your employees that, you know, when you’re first learning not to do the feedback sandwich, which apparently is a no-no now and I think everybody’s doing the feedback sandwich, it would be really great to have that. I was also thinking that it would be awesome to have you come back on the show and talk to us more about how to manage you’re A-list people and get more out of them, ‘cause I think that’s a really critical opportunity. And there’s one last thing, and I know we’re almost out of time here. You know, we’re a little over honestly, but I can remember when I was managing hundreds of people that I really didn’t have a good sense of, I could tell by the numbers how my sales people were doing. For people who weren’t tied to numbers, I had less of an idea, you know, two or three or four tiers below me how any of those people were really performing.

And I couldn’t go to them and say, you know, “Hey, I can give you specific feedback.” I didn’t have specific feedback ‘cause I was a VP, I was an SVP and I didn’t, you know, I didn’t have day-to-day experience with them. Is there anything that you recommend for VP’s who want to just stop in and talk to people but feel like they’re a little uncomfortable doing so and that in most cases they have no idea what that person’s actually doing because it’s not their responsibility to know that level of detail, but they’d like to be able to have some queries and some communication that goes positively in motivating someone or in giving them support. Do you know what I mean? Am I being clear?

Russell Pereira: Sure.

Susan Bratton: So what do you do when you’re a VP or an SVP and you don’t know these people but you’d like to talk to them and you’d like it to be constructive?

Russell Pereira: Yeah, okay. I can actually give you an example of my own personal experience where when I was working in a large multi national FMCG Company the general manager made it a point to always walk down to the factory floor. And even though he didn’t actually know everyone’s names at the beginning when he first started, he just religiously every afternoon walked down onto the factory floor and just said hello, “How’s it all going? What you doing there?” introduced, himself and by the end of his first six months he’d pretty much met everyone and got to know them by their name. He made a commitment to actually just do that, and it was like everyone on the factory floor after his walk in the afternoon was like feeling like a million bucks. Took him like five or ten minutes just to do it once a day.

And it really is something about if you want to do something like that and just build a repertoire, you want to do it authentically, you know. Set the intention for what you want to achieve out of it. If it’s just to look good and just be a bit of a flash in the pan a couple of times, well you may not get the results you’re looking for. So I mean we’re talking about human beings here. And so I’d really recommend take that time and just be, again, open and honest and say, “Hey, I’ve never met you before. Here’s who I am, you know. Tell me a little bit of what you’re doing here.”

Susan Bratton: Yeah, just make it simple, right? It doesn’t have to be everything. All right, so you’ve moved here from Australia. You’re marrying a beautiful American woman.

Russell Pereira: I am.

Susan Bratton: You have a baby coming in the – you are. You have a baby boy coming in about four weeks.

Russell Pereira: Four weeks.

Susan Bratton: You’ve left your, well all but a few of your clients who can’t bare to let you go and they’re willing to deal with you over Skype behind and you’re starting afresh. How you doing? How you doing with all that?

Russell Pereira: I’ll tell you what, it is a bit like jumping into a raft and getting set to go down some white water for the first time without any training whatsoever.

Susan Bratton: What’s the hardest part? Is it acclimating to American culture and customs? Is it the fact that you just got married and you’re having a baby? Is it trying to get all new clients or repositioning yourself for the American ear, or what’s the hardest thing and what’s the easiest thing, you know, that you’ve noticed so far?

Russell Pereira: Well the first thing is I’m actually enjoying the ride.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, good.

Russell Pereira: Right?

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Russell Pereira: I’m really enjoying…

Susan Bratton: It’s a thrilling ride.

Russell Pereira: It’s a thrilling ride.

Susan Bratton: Uh huh.

Russell Pereira: It’s just going left, right, and center, and I’m just, being an extrovert, I love meeting people.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Russell Pereira: And so I am just doing a lot of that right now. And the hard part is not knowing, not seeing around the corner. But at the same time having to just stay relaxed and keep the faith that things are going to turn out and just stick to a plan.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Russell Pereira: And I’m enjoying the thrill to be honest, and I just can’t wait to be a dad.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, I know, huh?

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: That’s exciting. And you get a little boy.

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: Don’t you like knowing?

Russell Pereira: I do. I do. I’ve really, at first I thought I’m okay with a surprise.

Susan Bratton: Uh huh.

Russell Pereira: But then I was dying to know, so I gave in and to be honest it’s, the relationship had already started.

Susan Bratton: With your son.

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: I know what you mean.

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, you’re already thinking about him, mm hmm. That’s so exciting. Well Russell, I want to have you back on after the dust settles, maybe next year once you’ve got lots of clients under your belt here and you’ve got your boy and he’s toddling around sticking his fingers in the light sockets and, you know, all that, and you can come and tell us about how to manage our A-list players. Does that sound good?

Russell Pereira: Sure, happy to Susan.

Susan Bratton: Excellent! And ultimately I know that really what you want most in the world is to serve people. Like I just get that about you. I just get that the business that you’re in of coaching executives and helping them and being their mentor and teaching them communication models, I actually think you’d do really well in the engineering management side too because a lot of times engineers are brilliant but they’re not naturally oriented toward the communication skills.

Russell Pereira: It’s funny you said it, that’s actually my specialty. One of my main clients back in Australia is a bunch of tech people, a bunch of IT consultants. And the reason I really like working with them is because they like to get things systematically to them so they can just follow it step by step, but then understand that there’s a lot more versatility that they need to build. But they get the foundations and what makes them even more powerful is that even if you’re proficient at it by getting it as a model it makes it easier to transfer onto your people.

Susan Bratton: Definitely.

Russell Pereira: And that’s what builds it into the organization and into the culture.

Susan Bratton: Well and also I would wonder how you would do with Indians. You’re originally born in India. Your family moved to Australia.

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: Your dad was with Qantas, right?

Russell Pereira: Yes he was.

Susan Bratton: Yeah. So you’re an Indian man from Australia, but there’s got to be great like Indian mafia connections here for you.

Russell Pereira: Well it’s funny you say that, I usually, when I am working with a group there might be some Indians in there or when I’m coaching them, I’ve had that many requesters say, “Russell you need to take this stuff to India because this stuff will really hit it off there.” And look, I made a lot of mistakes myself. This is why I guess I’m really passionate about it.

Susan Bratton: Tell me.

Russell Pereira: Okay, I may, I was born in India, so I’m first generation. I spent most of my life in Australia, as you wouldn’t tell by the accent, right?

Susan Bratton: I love that accent.

Russell Pereira: But the thing is is that, you know, growing up under an Indian family roof, it’s still like being in India. And so culturally a lot of the things that you just wouldn’t think that would be an issue crop up in communication. So when I then got into the workforce and was dealing with people, you know, outside of an Indian culture, I mean I love my parents to bits and I’m so thankful for having such a loving family, but it was also like being wrapped up in cotton wool compared to some of the issues I was presented at work. And so I was really out of my depth and felt uncomfortable. And in fact, you know, I recall a couple of occasions where people had come to me for help, ‘cause I’m a pretty approachable guy, but the issues they were talking about I just felt too uncomfortable on how to deal with it.

And in the end I kind of just contracted and couldn’t respond, couldn’t help them, I just stayed silent, and that was like totally taken the wrong way. They thought I was, you know, just ignoring them or wasn’t happy about them. And the truth was I just didn’t know how to handle it, and I felt really bad about that, like I let these people down when they’d come to me for help. And so, you know, when I came across this stuff I just said, “Wow, where has this been, you know?” This is the tough – and I’ve done an MBA and, you know, I thought I was getting the best of management training – but it’s the soft stuff that if you really want to progress the soft skills that really get you there to where you need to be.

Susan Bratton: Definitely. Likeability.

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: I think it’s so key to success. Yeah, likeability. That’s really what we’re talking about here.

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: People like you when they understand you.

Russell Pereira: So yeah…

Susan Bratton: And you’re teaching them communication skills.

Russell Pereira: Absolutely. And I’m like, I love working with my fellow countrymen because, you know, I’ve been there, made the same mistakes, I really relate to them, so you know, the more I can help like that the better. And, you know, we’re just so globalized now. I mean India’s becoming the call center capital of the world, right. So anything we can do or anything I can do to help integrate that just through smoothening out the communication…

Susan Bratton: And the cultural differences.

Russell Pereira: and the cultural differences…

Susan Bratton: Yeah. Now you know all three, you know, the Indian culture, you know, you’re learning the American culture, and you know the Australian culture. So anybody whose got feet in any of those continents could also be valuable for you.

Russell Pereira: Yeah. It’s the classic east meets west.

Susan Bratton: Well you are a fabulous combination of that. Russell thanks so much for coming on DishyMix and thanks for sharing with us those seven mistakes that unfortunately we are making. And I’ll make sure that I put a link up on the show, both at DishyMix, the DishyMix blog and at the DishyMix Facebook page so that people can find that downloadable seven mistakes, the right model, the giving effective feedback model that you’ve walked us through today. So thanks for that.

Russell Pereira: My pleasure.

Susan Bratton: All right.

Russell Pereira: Thank you Susan.

Susan Bratton: It’s been my pleasure. So that’s Russell Pereira, and his website is A-PlayerMaker.com. And if you want to give him a call just, you know, send him an email. What’s your email Russell?

Russell Pereira: Email address is [email protected]

Susan Bratton: Yeah, we could’ve figured that out, couldn’t we? Guh. All right…

Russell Pereira: And that’s Russell with a double S and a double L.

Susan Bratton: Oh good, there you go. Double S, double L, Russell. Yeah, if you just send him an email, Russell will answer your questions, so if you have something you want to, you know, a ten second piece of advice, I’m sure you’re willing to make some good connections here.

Russell Pereira: Absolutely. Anyone out there, if you’re a DishyMix listener and you’re in management or you’ve just got any issues dealing with people at work, I’d be more than happy to chat with you.

Susan Bratton: It always helps you with your blog post too and everything. I mean it’s, what goes around comes around, right?

Russell Pereira: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: You’re karmic marketer.

Russell Pereira: I’ve found that out already. It’s great.

Susan Bratton: Exactly. It’s so true. Awesome! All right, well I’m your host, Susan Bratton. I hope you’ve enjoyed the show today. I hope you’ll stop making all those mistakes if you are and start learning this new model for giving feedback effectively so that you can get your people working harder. I will look forward to connecting with you next week, and thanks so much for listening to this show today. I hope it made a difference. Take care.