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The Gift of Feedback with Terence Mahone of Farfetch

Chief evangelist at Creative Force

Summary

Feedback is a gift. It can be scary, it can be hard, but when given in good faith it helps us learn, grow, and can make us feel good about the work that we've done. For this Christmas week episode of the e-commerce content creation podcast, Daniel is joined by Terence Mahone of Farfetch to discuss the gift of feedback. Even though it can be hard, if the goal of the team is growth, it is absolutely possible to have a culture where feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Key Takeaways

  • Feedback is often thought to be exclusively negative when in reality feedback can be a gift.
  • Feedback at its core is information, and asking for more information to better form your opinion is valuable when giving and/or receiving feedback.
  • Feedback should always be specific. Generic feedback amounts to a personal opinion and isn't always the best tool for growth.
  • SBI - Situation Behavior Impact - A feedback format that encourages more meaningful information to help with giving GOOD feedback.
  • Creating a culture that thrives on feedback changes how people approach cross-functional projects or relationships
  • Timeliness of feedback is crucial, if only because the more time passes, the harder it is to remember.
  • Feedback can become a barometer for culture and communication in a team or org. If feedback is difficult, maybe there are some communication gaps that need to be filled.
  • Like all things, we get better at feedback if we practice it. If you only give feedback a little bit once a year, you can't really expect to be good at it.
  • We LIKE to hear things that tell us our colleagues believe in us and want to see us grow.
  • Difficult feedback needs to go through a manager, but peer-to-peer feedback can be really valuable provided the studio culture allows for it.
  • Keeping a record of feedback can be important for a manager, to help facilitate growth, but also to give their next manager an idea of the accomplishments and areas of an improvement for a direct report.
  • Keeping good records and meeting notes with your employees also eases the performance review process each year.

Links & Resources

Full episode transcript

Daniel Jester:
From Creative Force, I'm Daniel Jester, and this is the E-commerce Content Creation Podcast.

Speaker 2:
Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho.

Daniel Jester:
Feedback is a gift. It can be scary, it can be hard, but when given in good faith, it helps us learn, it helps us grow. It can make us feel good about the work that we've done and it can show us how to do it even better next time. For this Christmas week episode of the E-commerce Content Creation Podcast, I'm joined by Terence Mahone of Farfetch, and we talk about the gift of feedback.

Daniel Jester:
Even though it can be hard, if the goal of the team is growth, and that starts with the manager, it is absolutely possible to have a culture where feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Terence Mahone:
If you live within a culture of fear, this is really difficult, but if you live within a culture where your manager encourages growth, where your manager looks at failure as an opportunity to get better, whether it's personal failure or team failure, then I think you start to live within a culture where feedback becomes truly meaningful.

Daniel Jester:
This is a longer episode for our show, so I won't take any more of your time. Here is my conversation with Terence Mahone about the gift of feedback.

Speaker 2:
Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho.

Daniel Jester:
This is the E-commerce Content Creation Podcast. I am your host, Daniel Jester, and joining me for this episode of the podcast, my old friend and colleague, Terence Mahone of Farfetch. Terence, welcome to the show again, this is your second time guest appearing on the podcast.

Terence Mahone:
Yeah. Daniel, thank you for having me back. It's good to be back, it's been a while. It's been a crazy year.

Daniel Jester:
It has been a crazy year and it's weird to think that we are almost to the end of it. Here we are in mid-December, and in the spirit of the holidays and gift giving, we're talking about feedback being a gift. Feedback is a gift that we can look for ourselves or we can give to our peers and our coworkers and our employees, but there are some problems with feedback. It can be scary, it can be very scary sometimes to ask for feedback.

Daniel Jester:
To kick off the conversation, Terence, historically feedback scares people. Why do you think that is, and how can we start to change people's minds here in this episode?

Terence Mahone:
You hear the word feedback, you hear someone say, "Hey, I've got some feedback for you," and you-

Daniel Jester:
Ugh.

Terence Mahone:
Right, yeah. It's like a chill goes up your spine, your eyes turn a little bit glassy, you prepare to hear something negative about what you've done. Partly it's because we live in a culture where we're most likely to complain about things that go wrong rather than to compliment on things that go right. But it is, there's just a cultural norm around it that feedback is almost always negative. It isn't true.

Daniel Jester:
Right, and the sort of topic that we're talking about here specifically is trying to frame it that way, that feedback really is a gift, even if it is potentially negative in nature. We talk a lot on this podcast about continuous improvement as part of our processes and we can make our process really great by continuously analyzing it, and that is absolutely true on an individual level of individual performance, but it takes a lot of energy to get past this idea of feedback just being about negative things. I think a lot of that fear stems from if we do a bad enough job, we may lose our job, and that is concerning obviously to a lot of people, but feedback is really one of the only ways in which we can improve our performance and get better at what we do and almost separate it from the idea of like, "Am I going to lose my job at all?" It's just about how did I do this time and what can I do differently or better?

Terence Mahone:
I think a lot of that stems from your relationship with your manager and your relationship with your job and your performance in your job. Obviously, if you live within a culture of fear, this is really difficult, but if you live within a culture where you may manager encourages growth, where your manager looks at failure as an opportunity to get better, whether it's personal failure or team failure, then I think you start to live within a culture where feedback becomes truly meaningful. It would be interesting to know, as we were getting ready for this I thought about feedback and where it exists within our broader culture, and I thought how many times do you go to a brick-and-mortar store, how often do you not get a receipt that has a survey at the end of it anymore? I mean, it's absolutely ubiquitous, every retailer is seeking feedback to try to improve what they do, it would be interesting to know what the response rate is and what the positive versus negative or balanced versus any other aspect is. But it is definitely something that is sought by people that want to improve their performance.

Terence Mahone:
Yeah, the thought just comes to my mind, and I say this to my direct reports regularly when they come to me and they have a preformed opinion, and I had to manager that taught me really well to ask questions. Instead of thinking that you know something, figure out what you don't know yet. When something goes wrong or something goes right, your first reaction shouldn't be necessarily to draw a conclusion, but maybe to find out more information about what's happening. In some ways that's the nature of feedback, right? It's asking for more information, it's not necessarily saying, "Hey, here's a formed opinion." If feedback is requested of you, you can dig deeper and ask a follow-up question, "Hey, can you explain what you're asking about?"

Daniel Jester:
That's kind of what we're saying when we say that feedback is a gift. Feedback inherently is information about a process or an experience or an individual, and that information is a gift to help that person, that process, that experience improve for everybody.

Daniel Jester:
Getting into a little bit more on breaking down at least the idea of feedback and in a studio with a creative team. First, I want to tie this back to the conversation always ongoing on this podcast about metrics and KPIs. Feedback is related to those things, but it's also quite different. Let's talk a little bit about the difference between a metric or a KPI and specific feedback.

Terence Mahone:
I think here, for me at least, the difference is vast. I mean, KPIs, they're arbitrary. There's no two ways about it. If you're going to look at your performance over the past year, you're going to take a look and say, "Oh, well, I did whatever it was." It's like, "This was our goal, to shoot 120 items per day on this set, and I regularly delivered 125 items per day on average, with a reshoot rate of whatever," if you're a photographer, whatever that metric is. It's pretty arbitrary. I think feedback is the human component and the narrative that goes around that, what's it like to work with someone that is able to deliver 120 items per day on a set.

Daniel Jester:
The productivity numbers and you even threw in the reshoot rate, which generally would speak to the quality of somebody's performance in that regard, but it doesn't capture an important side of it, which for me is one of the real tenants of success of working in a studio where you're around a lot of other people all the time, which is how easy were you to get along with, did people enjoy working with you on set? That's certainly one aspect of feedback, is about the individual, which maybe is what lends it to being sometimes an uncomfortable conversation. You start to start talking about personality, which is harder to change and harder to, I guess, improve, for lack of a better word, than something that while arbitrary is still pretty objective, which is a productivity number.

Terence Mahone:
One of the things I think about with feedback especially, and I'm going to shift away a little bit and come back if I can manage to hold the concept in my head for five minutes, but one of the things that creative teams, and especially if you're in an individual contributor role where you're in role, you're on set, you're doing your tasks, I think sometimes feedback opportunities are rare because you work with a fixed set of people, you're doing a relatively fixed set of operations day in and day out. Feedback tends to look very different for someone like that than someone who they're a project manager and they have opportunities to really work in a more ad hoc kind of a way.

Terence Mahone:
But I think to get back to your point of what is that interpersonal aspect of feedback of working with somebody, I look back at my experience as a photographer and I know that I'm a bit of a chameleon sometimes. It's like we change how we present our needs and who we are depending on the team that we're working with. If we're working with someone who really has conflict as part of their process, they like to really come together and butt heads and work things out, you're going to be a very different person during that than you're working with someone who's very collaborative, who starts by opening themselves and asking questions. I'm not saying that one approach is better or the other for a colleague, I'm just saying that for each of us I think we adjust a little bit. We can sense that, we see that in other people and it's like, "Do they come part way to me so that we can mesh our styles together?"

Daniel Jester:
Let's approach this idea from the manager's perspective. I won't say studio manager, I don't want to have to build out a whole conceptual hierarchy here, but there's a couple of different perspectives to look at from feedback. From a manager's perspective, there's a handful of things to think about. A manager often needs to give feedback to their employees, they absolutely should be giving feedback to their employees. How does that process, I guess, start? The manager needs to collect information about performance from various places to deliver that feedback and then there's the actual active giving that feedback. I think maybe the place to start from the manager's perspective is how do we make sure that we're getting a clear picture of what's going on with our teams in order to give the best possible feedback?

Terence Mahone:
This comes to a question of what feedback are you going to give? Are you going to give overall feedback that's based on the performance for the year? Are we looking at a year-end review? I mean, that's something different than maybe very specific in-the-moment feedback, but they're not disconnected, because that year-end feedback is maybe built up of those smaller things. To go back to your example of having maybe a good service example, it's like you want to give that feedback in the moment, whether it's written or whether it's verbal. Your memory of it will fade, the details will fade. The most important thing is that it has to specific.

Terence Mahone:
If I just give feedback, say I'm giving peer feedback and I just say, "Nancy is great to work with." What have I said? I haven't said anything. This is purely my opinion. It's like maybe I like Nancy, Nancy and I get along together, whatever. If I say, "Whenever I work with Nancy, we have the ability to really produce quality work, and it's because of Nancy's particular way of doing some aspect of her job." Again, we start to get specific. When is this behavior happening? What exactly is the behavior and what does the behavior allow us to do, or what does this change about our work?

Terence Mahone:
There's some really good models out there that you can use, the SBI, the Situation-Behavior-Impact, or the STAR, which is Situation-Task-Action-Result. I mean, they're somewhat interchangeable, but I think one lends itself to a different type of work, maybe the SBI, I think, works when people have a little bit more autonomy in what they're doing. But I think that specificity of the action that you're giving feedback for is the first and foremost thing, and that's going to drive how and where and when you deliver the feedback.

Daniel Jester:
This is something that everybody in your organization, if you're trying to build a culture that craves this feedback, everybody should be aware of this part of the process, which is how to really give meaningful feedback. If we continue on with this holiday season analogy of feedback being a gift saying, "I like working with Nancy, she's great," is the equivalent of a gift card versus a very specific piece of feedback about a project or action or situation along with what happened, when it happened and the impact, that's when you're getting into this situation where you're really thinking about the individual and you're giving them a gift that's tailored to help their life in some way.

Terence Mahone:
What's the outcome of that growth-oriented feedback? Next year, you can take that feedback that you received and you can say, "Hey, look, in 2021, I received some feedback about my performance and these three points were called out." In 2022, fast forward 12 months from now, you can say, "Hey, I addressed these specific things," and look for that feedback again. Creating that culture of seeking feedback puts people in a different frame of mind of how they want to work with one another. The feedback doesn't become an afterthought, it actually becomes sort of a forethought. I'm going to have an opportunity to work with someone and I'm going to either demonstrate yet again what I do and get good feedback on it, or I'm going to have an opportunity to readdress the things that have been identified for me as growth areas and get some feedback and show that I'm growing.

Daniel Jester:
One of the things I just wanted to mention, as I've been thinking about the timeliness of this, which you called out, which is very, very important to this, which is if you're going to take this seriously, I do think you need to be recording your thoughts and whatever the feedback is in the moment.

Daniel Jester:
Our shared experience at Amazon, they had a tool that allowed you to do that. The people who were the best at giving feedback and receiving feedback, and for one thing, just being prepared for year-end review time, were the people who made judicious use of that tool, which is in the moment, after the project wrapped, after the shoot wrapped, I can't remember for the life of me what the system's called and none of our listeners would know unless they work at Amazon anyway, but you could go in, in the moment, and leave for feedback for that individual. It gave you the outline on how to build the feedback a little bit, which is a really powerful, but I think probably ultimately underused, tool to make sure that you were giving good feedback to people in a timely way that wasn't you at the end of the year trying to remember the project that you worked on and who worked on it and what they did.

Terence Mahone:
It's two way, because I think both people working on a project, or everybody working on a project if it's more than two people, has the opportunity to give feedback, whether they're upstream or downstream in a leadership channel. Again, I come back to this idea of knowing that feedback is an outcome changes our behavior in the moment, that if you go into a project thinking about feedback as opposed to thinking about feedback on the back end of it, it changes how you work. Someone seeking feedback from the beginning of a project is generally going to be a more collaborative colleague throughout that entire project because they're going to think, "What's the outcome of this?" Well, not only the outcome of the project, but there's going to be this thing that I'm going to get personally that allows me to drive my growth. I think it changes who we are and how we interact with one another, just knowing that feedback is an outcome.

Terence Mahone:
Then, like you say, it focuses on the timeliness of that. What are you going to do? Take a look, you're going to assess, when can we call this project done? When can I ask for feedback on it? It's like, literally, as soon as the thing wraps, you should be reaching out and saying, "Hey, can you offer some feedback on the period we worked together on this project?"

Daniel Jester:
Let's use that part of the conversation to segue a little bit, because you touched on feedback as a manager versus maybe an individual contributor and that this really can and should go in multiple directions. It doesn't just need to be top down, it shouldn't be top down. Every employee should have an opportunity to give feedback on people that they interact with, which would include their manager. That can be a difficult thing to consider sometimes, but what do you think would be your advice for somebody, let's say, who wants to give constructive feedback about their manager, but is a little bit concerned about the best approach to take?

Terence Mahone:
I'm going to go back to my point about asking questions. Maybe it's by the time you're ready to give feedback maybe it's too late, but wouldn't it be great to have that conversation with your manager, as an employee, and ask your manager, "How do you see your job supporting me?" I think it's something I'm pretty explicit with my employees about, is this is my job and this is how I'm going to try to do it and please help me get better at it. But I think if you don't have that, you need to ask for it, because that's the first key to giving feedback, because we need to know what the intention is. If the manager's intention is to work one way and then you're expecting something totally different, the feedback is not going to really find a foundation to stand on.

Terence Mahone:
But if you're talking about the same thing, if the manager is like, "My job is really just to remove roadblocks and you're going to run and you're going to do your job," or the manager's saying, "No, my job is to very specifically lay out a framework for you to work within," again, now we can be objective about the feedback and we can say, "Hey, the manager's objective was to do this. From my perspective, they met this objective, but I need this other thing," or maybe I don't, maybe there's nothing at all that I need.

Terence Mahone:
But I think, again, you have to go back and you have to understand what the full framework is before you give feedback, because if the person receiving the feedback isn't in the same frame of mind, they're going to have to work to understand what the perspective is.

Daniel Jester:
In that way, the feedback almost becomes a barometer for how effective communication within your team is in. The expectations and the actual outcomes of instances of giving or receiving feedback really can tell you a lot about how effective your communication and your transparency is as a team.

Terence Mahone:
Oh, 100%. I mean, what if your feedback is, "Oh, they didn't deliver the project on time," and your response, as the person receiving the feedback, is, "No, you never set a deadline."

Daniel Jester:
Right, yeah, absolutely.

Terence Mahone:
You know?

Daniel Jester:
Or their feedback is, "You switched to ice cream sandwiches instead of cake for birthdays. How dare you, sir?"

Terence Mahone:
Strikes close to the heart.

Daniel Jester:
That's a little inside Amazon joke. For the record, the ice cream sandwiches were a huge hit. I count that as one of the big wins of my career.

Terence Mahone:
You're reflecting seasonality.

Daniel Jester:
Absolutely.

Terence Mahone:
Before we move on, I do want to touch on something. I know we talked about this a little at the beginning and I think this might be an opportune spot to insert it, is, like all things, we get better at feedback if we practice it. If the only time you do it is half a dozen times at the end of the year or midyear during reviews, you're not necessarily going to be great at it.

Terence Mahone:
I think creating opportunities for employees to practice giving feedback and at least walk through the form of it and figure out, "Hey, what does that look like?" If we think about SBI feedback and that and just saying, "Hey," because you can give feedback on anything that happens, "I lost the keys to my car and Tom gave me a ride home yesterday." It's like, okay, you wouldn't give work feedback on that, but you can see certainly used that as an opportunity for feedback practice and say, "Hey, what was the situation?" I lost my keys to my car. The behavior, Tom recognized the loss of my keys and that I was struggling to figure out a way to get home, asked me if I needed a ride, I said yes. What was the impact? I got home on time and there were extra keys, I was able to take my car home the next day.

Terence Mahone:
Again, it's just a matter of creating practice and playfulness with it. Then people break down that barrier that says, "Oh, feedback has to be this thing. It has to be this huge project," or whatever. No, you can give feedback to someone on the fact that they make coffee every morning. They get in early, they take five minutes out of their day to make coffee for the team before everyone else gets in. Is it a huge thing, does it get you the big promotion? Probably not. Is it worth giving feedback on, does it show how the person is as a team player? Yeah, absolutely.

Daniel Jester:
Yeah. I think you're really describing that it doesn't need to feel like that cramming for finals at the end of the year kind of thing, which I think is a lot of times when we attach feedback specifically to year-end reviews or if you're at an organization that does a midyear review, it does start to feel like this huge task. I think if you make it part of the fabric of the culture of your workplace and it's a common thing that is being practiced all the time, I love that idea of just practicing giving that feedback and really learning the skill of giving constructive feedback. This is something I have to remind myself all the time, even though I feel like I say it almost every day to my own children, which is if you want to get good at anything, you can. You just have do it over and over again. That's really the only secret to success, is really repetition.

Terence Mahone:
I was thinking about it, and I'm going to call you out here, this is the point where I give you feedback on your podcast during your podcast.

Daniel Jester:
Uh-oh. Uh-oh.

Terence Mahone:
No, don't worry, it's all good. You made a change in the form between the first time I appeared on the podcast and now, and you've started doing a bit of an outline ahead of time to really clarify talking points, talk about what order we're going to talk about things. I found it really useful, I found it really thought-provoking. Again, thinking about SBI, a situation where you're going to have me as a guest on your podcast and we have some topics in mind, you built out a shared document that we could work back and forth on that really helped us to get some ideas to coalesce. Impact, well, I guess we're going to wait for that, right?

Daniel Jester:
Yeah. The conversation so far is going pretty well, but let's jump into the next part of the topic, which is what happens when that feedback gives away trade secrets. No, I'm just kidding. I appreciate that, and we think that it really helps too, is to have a shared guide for the conversation. It's always conversational, but we want to have an understanding that we're on the same page, me and the guest, and have meaningful topics, because we want to give meaningful content to our audience.

Terence Mahone:
Before we move on, let me ask you this. How did that feel? How did that feel to get feedback right now?

Daniel Jester:
That felt good, because you were sharing with me that your experience was improved, which is probably one of the most important things. I have two customers that I'm serving on this podcast, the audience, which is the listeners, but then also the guests. I want the guest to feel supported, like they know what they're getting into, and I want our audience to be getting good information. The feedback that you gave me told me that I'm on the right track with how we handle pre-production.

Terence Mahone:
Exactly. Does it mean you stop doing the thing that you did to improve just because you got a bit of good feedback on, hey, this one thing works?

Daniel Jester:
It depends on what the next bit of feedback is and whether or not it's going to be negative.

Terence Mahone:
Exactly. I guess my point is that we like to hear good things about ourselves and our work performance.

Daniel Jester:
That's true.

Terence Mahone:
We also like to hear things that let us believe our colleagues believe in us and work for our growth, even if they're somewhat negative. If we go back to the initial question about why is feedback scary, I think those are two really powerful tools to take away the scariness.

Daniel Jester:
Terence, I want to ask you about direct versus manager-routed feedback or manager-delivered feedback. What I mean by this is it's relatively uncommon I think in a lot of studios for situations where you just give direct peer-to-peer feedback or to feel like that's part of the culture. I think if you foster that you can certainly build that up, but I normally a lot of stuff ends up coming through a manager. I wanted to get your thoughts on both of those things, like peers giving feedback to each other, maybe building a mechanism, or does it make sense to build a mechanism to allow for that or encourage that, versus feedback coming from a manager and maybe paraphrased by the manager based on things that they are hearing. Then I think that's also going to feed into how we deliver the feedback, whether it's written, oral, Zoom. There's a lot of different ways that we can give feedback, and some are more personal than others. But starting with that other part, peer-to-peer versus manager-delivered.

Terence Mahone:
The peer-to-peer and sort of the lattice aspect of feedback of someone who's maybe not directly above you, but either above you in a different vertical or below you in a different vertical or wherever that is. I think that's super important. I think that hearing directly in the other person's unedited voice is a really powerful tool. I also think that learning to write that feedback in a way that you can present it or it can be presented to your coworkers with your name attached to it is really important, because that's an important communication skill to develop in your team.

Terence Mahone:
I think it's also important that not be the only venue, that things can get routed through a manager so that the manager can filter, the manager can figure out, is this part of a pattern, am I hearing this from multiple perspectives or is this a single one off, is it simply a gripe that I'm hearing about the person? But again, that goes back to the manager then also following up with some questions to understand, it's not just someone says, "Oh gee, every time this person works in this way, they forget to sign out of the computer and I have to do X number of extra things." It's like you've got to follow up on that a little bit and understand, gee, do we have a culture of people not signing out of computers or is this something that just one person is doing.

Terence Mahone:
But I think the manager can coach that out a little bit and suss out a little bit more subtle message that is actionable sometimes, and especially with really difficult feedback, that's where anything that's going to come across any sort of HR concerns, anything like that really needs to go through the manager so that the manager has visibility. They can escalate if needed, they can take the appropriate action if something serious is going on, but they can also edit a little bit and make sure that the language is appropriate, that we're communicating in ways and working together in ways that fully respect a commitment to diversity and the social, and for that matter, legal needs of working together in the studio.

Daniel Jester:
You bring up a great point, which is that a skill that a manager really needs to develop, and I've said before on this show to you, this is one of the things that I think you're very good at, which is being able to take me, as somebody who reported to you for a period of time, emotional me in a meeting who has a lot of things that I want to say coming from an emotional state, and figuring out how to parse out from that what is the emotion and what is the situation and the behavior and the impact potentially in a way that it becomes better feedback. But you never shied away from allowing me the space to have the emotional reaction, which I thought was always a wise way to manage a team, which is if you give your team a safe place to feel what they feel, maybe you end up with less interpersonal issues out on the studio floor.

Terence Mahone:
It's a basic rule for me, never look at your watch during a one-on-one. You just never want anyone to feel like they have a time limit or that they can't fully vent. Just continue to draw that out and then you can start to bend the conversation back around if you need.

Daniel Jester:
Yeah.

Terence Mahone:
But it is, it's definitely a manager's skill to hear things out and then to start to put some order around it.

Daniel Jester:
You just said something and it reminded me, I didn't realize until this moment how much I missed having direct reports to have one-on-ones with, I always looked forward to my one-on-ones with my direct reports.

Terence Mahone:
One-on-ones are great. People do them in different ways. I tend to have an open agenda beforehand, a shared document, much like our working outline, because it allows the person to collect what they want to talk about and share it with me beforehand. If there's anything that needs to be researched, I have an opportunity to take a look at that. Then we have a record.

Terence Mahone:
This a good segue back into the second half of your question, it was about delivery of feedback. As a manager, you should be keeping relatively comprehensive notes from one-on-ones and performance through the year, you shouldn't be relying on your memory. Then, likewise, know that your employees are not always your employees and hopefully that they have a life beyond reporting to you at a company, so you want to build a record for them that allows their next manager or their skip level or whoever to have visibility into what the history of their performance has been. What have they struggled with in the past? What have they succeeded at? What things have they overcome?

Terence Mahone:
I think the immediacy of verbal feedback, telling someone they did a great job when they do the job, that personal contact is super important to relationship building. That doesn't mean that has to be the only place that that same feedback is delivered in. I think delivering it as part of a permanent record for the employee, and certainly if your company has a tool that's created that allows for peer and manager feedback to be stored and shared and attached to an employee profile, that's tremendously beneficial. If not, keep good records for your employees. Keep a folder in whatever tool you use that has details of one-on-one, details of feedback. It's going to help you, at the end of the year, write a performance review. It's going to help you figure out what to share directly versus what not just share.

Terence Mahone:
I'm fortunate that I live in a work environment that has those tools in place and I don't have to invent them, but again, I think that that permanent and persistent record of feedback is really important because it lets you look back and evaluate, look at the growth that this person has had over this year or look at the challenges that they continue to work on, so maybe this is an area that we need to revisit and put additional effort on.

Daniel Jester:
Very well said. I really want to punctuate what you just said about keeping good notes and records of your employee, in particular because if you work in a larger organization, and you and I worked at Amazon at the same time, people were constantly shuffling who their direct manager, their direct report was. I mean, Terence, I don't know how many people you had the honor of promoting when you were in management for Amazon, but what percent do you think of them changed management hands in the course of the year directly proceeding when you tried to promote them? Probably almost all of them.

Terence Mahone:
Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, changed hands during the promotion process. It just underscores how important it is to do that in a way that you can hand things off. I mean, honestly, everything that you do in your work should be done in a way that you can hand it off. If I can't come to work tomorrow for some reason, my car is blocked in the gate for the garage doesn't open, whatever, if I can't go to work on Tuesday, my Wednesday's going to be a whole lot easier if I left a paper trail of what was going on and what to do.

Terence Mahone:
Absolutely the same is true of your employees and their experience. If they shift managers regularly and their frustration is that they don't have access to the promotion process, they're going to attribute the shift in management year over year, month over month, to being partly responsible for that. But if they see that people wind up with a new manager and they're quickly promoted and they understand that the process is a six month or a yearlong process, they have some intimation at least of what's going on in the scenes for that to happen.

Daniel Jester:
A real true gift that you're giving your direct is the gift of context that doesn't have to come from them for their new manager. Their new manager is up to speed on their accomplishments and their areas that they could use improvement without having to try to sell it themselves, which can be uncomfortable for some people. It's a real gift to give your direct report, is a comprehensive rundown of their performance to their new manager.

Terence Mahone:
Absolutely.

Daniel Jester:
Terence, I guess this is a going to be, I think, a pretty long episode, but I think a valuable one. Is there anything that you want to close with? Any more feedback that you want to give me in terms of the show before we wrap up the episode?

Terence Mahone:
No. Again, go back to the idea that it's a gift and that we have to ask fearlessly for things. I think I had not a manager, per se, but sort of a mentor, and he famously said, "If you don't ask, the answer is always no," which has become one of my guiding principles for everything in life at this point. It's about asking for feedback, it's about how do you ask. The most important feedback that you can get is probably the most difficult feedback to ask for. To dig in and say, "I had an opportunity to work with this person on this project and things really didn't quite as we expected or the outcome wasn't what we wanted," there's a real desire to shy away from asking for feedback in that situation, just ignore that. It's like why would you tell your manager or share with your manager anything negative about your past year, just share the positive stuff and get the career advancement.

Terence Mahone:
I think that in asking for the difficult feedback is where we really show strength by exposing ourselves and weaknesses and being open. I think that asking for that feedback in those difficult situations shows a willingness to grow, a willingness to hear what we don't want to hear about ourselves and to take that to heart and to move on and to get better at the things that truly count.

Daniel Jester:
Absolutely, and very well said. Terence, thank you so much for your time and your expertise and sitting down and talking with me about this topic. I truly believe, and a lot of it is based on my experience working with you, that feedback is a gift and we should seek it, but we should also foster an environment for ourselves and for other people around us that it's okay, it's okay for you to tell me things good or bad, and that if it's done in good faith, it will always be welcome.

Terence Mahone:
Yeah. Well, it's been a pleasure. I hope that it's some good information or at least some thought provoking information. Ultimately, I care about my team. I hope other managers do. If we can collaborate a little bit, that would be a good thing.

Daniel Jester:
That's it for this episode of the show. I just want to take a moment to say happy holidays, Merry Christmas. At this point, we're well past Hanukah, so I hope you had a wonderful Hanukah. We'll be back next week with Tejs Rasmussen of Creative Force to close out 2021 with a year in review episode. Many thanks to our guest, Terence Mahone, and thanks to you for listening. The show is produced by Creative Force, edited by Calvin Lanz. Special thanks to Sean O'Meara. I am your host, Daniel Jester. Until next time, my friends.

About the host

Chief evangelist at Creative Force

Daniel Jester is an experienced creative production professional who has managed production teams, built and launched new studios, and produced large-scale projects. He's currently the Chief Evangelist at Creative Force but has a breadth of experience in a variety of studio environments - working in-house at brands like Amazon, Nordstrom, and Farfetch as well as commercial studios like CONVYR. Creative-minded, while able to effectively plan for and manage a complex project, he bridges the gap between spreadsheets and creative talent.