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Book Review

Tell Me How I'm Doing

by Richard L. Williams

Imagine going through your life receiving absolutely no input from colleagues or supervisors, friends or family. No inclusion in decisions, no praise or constructive criticism for the things you do -- in fact, no acknowledgment that you even exist at all. We all take feedback for granted, but it is a reference point without which we become incapable of functioning fully and productively.

Tell Me How I'm Doing presents a fable that illustrates what can happen when feedback is denied, and then offers step-by-step guidance for making feedback an integral part of all working and personal relationships. Readers will learn the four distinct types of feedback -- supportive, corrective, abusive, and insignificant -- and how and when to use the first two while avoiding the others. People in all walks of life and all professions rely on human interaction as a touchpoint for self-definition and self-improvement. When we interact fully and constructively with our peers, we help create a positive, productive, and sustainable culture that serves everyone well.

There is no question that delivering good feedback is a substantial part of effective leadership. Workers who receive continual, constructive feedback perform better, feel closer to their boss, and are more likely to stay with the organization. The same principles that produce results in the workplace also enrich relationships on a personal level.

Learning how to deliver feedback--and why it's so important--are key skills for both managers and non-managers, formal and informal leaders, and employees in every occupation. Applying the techniques to our personal and family lives opens wonderful opportunities to build closer, more meaningful, relationships.

In this book, the author teaches through a story of a consultant/coach working with a group of managers in a workplace setting. The instruction, learner response, and individual applications of the knowledge gained are presented in story form. This design, used in a number of management books, can be quite effective. The learnings become more personal and easier to accept and absorb. That communication method certainly works in this book, although some of the situations and conversations do seem a bit stilted and contrived. It's easy to get past those stumbling blocks in the flow to gain the valuable messages in the book.

This is the kind of book that is a quick read, but stimulates readers to pause and take notes. It's easy to move through, not complicated. A feedback assessment inventory, referred to early in the volume, is offered in the appendix--twice. Readers can complete the assessment as they begin to move through the book, then again at a later time to measure their progress.

Roger E. Herman, Reviewer