Leading a team by writing essays

Imagine that you have to give Mark feedback that he is not good at receiving negative feedback. How would it go? Well, not good : )

Now, imagine that during your next one-one-one you ask him: “Mark, I have an unusual request. Can you, please, spend some time this week and write me a short essay on the topic <How do I receive negative feedback?>. You can write a few pages or just a few bullet points, depending on what you want to say on the topic. OK?” Read the piece and then discuss it with Mark at your next meeting. 

Patrick is also part of the team. His way of communication irritates the rest on a regular basis. Go ahead and ask him to write on the topic “When I reacted to Marion’s request by  ……. (be specific) how do I think Marion felt? What would be the result of this reaction?”

What about Maria? She is always tired and stressed, yet she wants to be part of every little decision her subordinates make.

I find a few great benefits when using this approach with Mark (or any other team member):

  • Mark does not feel directly threatened.  If I just tell him ”Mate, how do you think you get along with negative feedback?” in a conversation he will most probably go on the defensive side because he needs to respond
  • Mark can actually take some time to reflect on the topic
  • Very often, while writing his essay, Mark would get much closer to my point of view
  • Very often, while reading Mark’s essay, I will get much closer to his point of view

Asking teammates to write essays is unorthodox. But we talk about innovation most of the time, don’t we 🙂

NEXT: The next article will be “Does your team know how you make decisions?”. Interested? Subscribe to CEOmoments’ mailing list and get it right in your inbox:

About me: Apart from acting as a CEO of DEV.BG (Tech Job Board) I help CEOs of small companies build their business. If you face a case I can help you with, drop me a message on LinkedIN.


Photo by picjumbo_com

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