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Honest Feedback Leads to Professional Development



You moved from Chicago to Nashville to take over the management of a new team six months ago. Your predecessor had already gotten a solid team in place, so you have been observing their work and interactions with each other, clients, and colleagues in other departments. Anna has the reputation of being a “go-to” team member as a resource for information and protocols.


Anna has worked for the company for five years but has never been promoted. She is very bright and has expressed to you that she has ambitions for a leadership position. Anna is someone you have come to rely upon heavily, and you view her as a real asset. You’ve spent a lot of time with her and have observed her interactions in meetings as well as her written communications. Sadly, her good ideas often are not listened to or taken seriously. You quickly figure out why.


Anna has extremely poor grammar. You have seen teammates cringe when she talks, and you overheard someone refer to her once as Hillbilly Anna. You get nervous when you see an email from her because of the way she presents herself. The reality is that she does not come across professionally. Her communication skills seem like those of someone who has had no education. She is very proud of her roots from rural Arkansas and the fact that she is the first person in her family to graduate from college. You and she have backgrounds in common because your grandmother is also from a small town in Arkansas. Therefore, you feel like the two of you have developed a good rapport, both professionally and personally.


You get the impression that no one has ever talked to Anna about her grammar. Even with a positive relationship, you know a conversation about her grammar is not going to be easy. You don’t want to offend her. However, you feel some responsibility to help Anna’s professional development.


You start the conversation with her by saying, “Anna you are a valued asset to the team. You perform like a professional. You even think like a professional, but you don’t speak or write like a professional.” You and Anna both hold your breath as she starts to cry. She then breaks the silence by saying, “I want to improve”. You promise, “I can help you.”


  • Why do you think Anna was willing to receive this critical feedback?

  • What tools or resources can you offer Anna to help her improve her grammar?

  • Was this conversation enough? What’s next?

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Remember, supervisory training for those who manage your employees is a good investment and is important to your business. We here at MGMTinsight can help. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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