Eliminate “I never heard that before” from Your Workplace Conversations

image of a foam coffee cup with brown outer sleeveThe Leadership Caffeine series is over 200 installments strong and is dedicated to every aspiring or experienced leader and manager seeking ideas, insights or just a jolt of energy to keep pushing forward. Thanks for being along for the journey!

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “I never heard that before,” or, its slightly more grammar challenged equivalent, “No one ever told me that before,” in response to performance feedback.

It’s sad and annoying all at the same time to hear those words. It’s annoying because it tells me that the managers charged with supporting, guiding and developing these valued individuals have shirked their responsibilities. It’s doubly annoying because the effort to deliver constructive feedback is minimal, the techniques to do so effectively fairly easy to learn and the results when done properly, priceless.

It’s sad, because the real victims are the individuals not receiving the feedback they need to grow and improve, and the firms and teams they work for and with who are indirectly penalized with suboptimal performance.

If you’re one of those managers who can stand to improve your frequency and comfort for delivering constructive (and positive) feedback, take the time to get some help. You’ll benefit and your team members will thank you.

The Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations books are excellent. Scan my feedback category, or check out the six part series which starts appropriately with:“Moving Beyond Fear and Anxiety.” And most of all, start observing and talking with your team members about the visible, business-related opportunities to improve or to do more of what’s working.

By the way, I’ve never met a high performance professional who didn’t want to receive feedback on his/her performance. A lot of feedback. Good professionals are always hungry to improve. If you run into someone who objects to it, either your approach is off or, they’re not the high quality professional you thought they were.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Paying attention to your team members is a high form of showing respect. Supporting their professional development through a variety of means, including but not limited to timely, high quality feedback, is the best way I know as a manager to show that I truly care. Take the time to master the tools and start supporting growth for your team members. You’ll grow a good deal as a leader along the way yourself.

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An ideal book for anyone starting out in leadership: Practical Lessons in Leadership by Art Petty and Rich Petro.

By |2017-12-08T07:38:35+00:00March 30th, 2014|Challenging Conversations, Leadership, Leadership Caffeine|2 Comments

About the Author:

Art Petty is a coach, speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.


  1. Douglas Duesing March 31, 2014 at 9:11 am - Reply

    Art, very insightful. In fact, I go into performance reviews not looking for praise, but for constructive feedback. Ways to improve. Opportunities to grow. Skills that I need to develop. This is what a true performance review should be all about. The only praise I need is a nice bump in salary or my Incentive Check. Those show me I’m performing well at what I do in my current position; but what will take me to that next the level? The level my Manager or their Manager? That’s what I want to know!

    • Art Petty March 31, 2014 at 10:04 am - Reply

      Doug, great to see your name here! Well said on what great professionals are after. In the vernacular of my book in process, we’re after the insights to Level-Up! Thanks for sharing your wisdom. -Art

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