Master your Feedback with the 4 Blocker Framework - F01

Navigate 1x1 Conversations like a Pro: A Framework for Effective Meetings

Note: While this article is tailored for leaders, its insights can benefit everyone. Don't hesitate to share this valuable framework with your manager to kickstart a process that is a win for both.

"Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge." - Simon Sinek

Simon’s books and speeches have shaped my approach to leadership and helped me improve a lot.

Picture this: you're sitting in yet another 1x1 feedback session, trying to crack a joke to break the tension. But deep down, you know there's more to these meetings than awkward laughs. You're seeking ways to transform these routine encounters into meaningful dialogues that empower your team and propel their growth (and yours).

In today's competitive landscape, effective performance evaluation and feedback are not just nice-to-haves, but absolute musts for driving performance. They serve as essential check-ins where you assess performance, exchange feedback, and aim to achieve core objectives like motivation, performance improvement, skill development, communication, and relationship building.

As a leader, you want to ensure these meetings are a good investment of time for both parties.

  • Do you find it challenging to balance the listed objectives in your 1×1 meetings?

  • Do you struggle with managing defensiveness and resistance from team members?

  • Are you finding it difficult and exhausting to prepare for these meetings?

  • Have you received feedback from your team regarding the need for better articulation of your feedback?

  • Do you struggle to provide specific and actionable feedback without sounding repetitive?

I am excited to share with you a tried-and-tested framework that I have personally utilized for over five years. This proven framework not only encompasses all six essential elements of a successful feedback meeting but has also played a pivotal role in my growth and improvement as a leader. By implementing this framework, I have witnessed significant positive results and I am confident that it can benefit you too.

I named it 4 Blocker, even though it's grammatically incorrect, but the name has stuck with me. As I explored different variations of feedback frameworks, my confidence grew with each discovery, reinforcing my belief that there is a strong demand for a simple framework to enhance leadership effectiveness. If you’ve never tried a variant of this before, my recommendation is to perform this assessment every 6 weeks. While I don't have a specific reason for this timeframe, based on my experience, I've found that 6 weeks allows sufficient time for translating ideas into prototypes or finished products, while also providing flexibility for adjustments if the results don't align with projections.

When it comes to meeting preparation, there's always a to-do list awaiting each team member. Think of it as a collection of tasks, projects, goals, action items, previous feedback, and more that your team member needs to tackle. Now, let's leverage this foundation to guide you in getting ready for the meeting.

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Meet Peter, an analyst working for a company in the thriving world of two-sided marketplaces. Their business model revolves around connecting customers with skilled professionals (let's call them partners) for on-demand design work. Recently, Peter successfully developed a dashboard that empowers the customer success manager to identify professionals who have experienced a significant drop of over -20% in orders placed during the past week. This dashboard goes the extra mile by delving into the factors contributing to the decline, enabling the customer success manager to swiftly pinpoint actionable steps to share with the partners and provide effective solutions.

Block 1 - Celebrating Achievements and Impact

Block 1 is all about acknowledging and highlighting successes. Simply stating, "I completed X project in under 2 weeks" is a good start, but it doesn't capture the full picture of the project's impact. It's important to go beyond the accomplishment itself and articulate the value it brings. This could include decisions driven by the project, improvements in metrics or KPIs, or contributions to overall business growth.

It's worth noting that not every task or accomplishment may have an immediate, tangible impact. Sometimes, foundational work generates value over time. In such cases, it's valuable to mention the projected impact or results that the foundational work is expected to bring. Additionally, if there are ongoing projects that are still on track and hold the potential to add value as intended, they can be mentioned in this section.

Let's imagine how Peter would fill out Block 1:

Completed Partner Performance dashboard that will help the Customer Success team proactively reach out to 100+ Partners weekly with recommendations to improve their earnings.

Completed Partner Performance dashboard - Accomplishment

…that will help the Customer Success team proactively reach out to 100+ Partners weekly with recommendations to improve their earnings - Projected Impact

Natasha is Adam’s manager, and these 2 sentences allow her to understand WHAT Peter did and WHY he did it. If she needs more technical details, she can always reach out to him to learn HOW he accomplished it. If Peter's dashboard was already creating value, his update would have been slightly different. Instead of mentioning the projected impact, he would have highlighted the actual impact it has had.

Block 1 offers three key benefits for leaders:

  • It provides a straightforward overview of achievements, even when they are tasks within a larger project or foundational work.

  • It serves as a key takeaway of the team member's work.

  • It encourages team members to reflect on the impact of their contributions which helps them connect their work to a bigger picture.

Remember, this was just one example of a win. Peter can mention additional accomplishments if there are more to share.

Block 2 - Addressing Challenges and Missed Opportunities

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Block 2 focuses on items that were planned but either not started or incomplete within the agreed timelines. It is crucial to not only identify these missed opportunities but also evaluate the reasons behind them. Understanding the "why" is often overlooked or unfortunately skipped. However, just as we strive to determine the root causes of a drop in business KPIs, it is equally important to investigate the reasons behind a teammate's performance decline or dip. Similar to how we diligently search for the underlying causes of a business performance drop and take necessary steps to improve it, we should apply the same approach to our team members. Block 2 helps uncover the root causes of ineffectiveness, laying the foundation for the next block.

Peter, our analyst friend, was tasked with building a report to analyze why partners abandon the sign-up procedure, which is a key objective of the Product team to increase the number of partners on the platform this quarter. Unfortunately, Peter hasn't completed this report, despite starting it a month ago.

Here's how Peter filled out Block 2:

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