ORBiT: Feedback

We don’t just like to talk about how the practices we preach at The Mann Group work; we like to show you. First with GEAR and now with ORBiT, we’re breaking down the steps of some of our favorite programs to help you understand why they work. We’ll be continuing the series in our future newsletters on all sorts of Mann Group offerings—just look for the Show Me! article and read on for great (free!) knowledge.


Which brings us back to ORBiT! We believe influence is the most integral leadership skill, which is why Dan wrote an entire book on the development of it, ORBiT: The Art and Science of Influence. In the book, Dan breaks down the six steps of ORBiT, a process he’s been developing for years. Here’s a quick recap:


1.     Establish Context. If students understand the why of the lesson, they’re much more likely to engage with and actually absorb the information you’re providing.

2.     Negative Simulation. By beginning with a negative example, you help students identify the flaws in their behaviors and understand why they should change.

3.    Positive Simulation. Now that students know what not to do, they’re ready to integrate the correct behaviors into their repertoire.

4.    Demonstration. By asking your students to exemplify their new skills, you confirm that they’re genuinely learning.


And now, step 5: Feedback.


For many leaders, managers and coaches, this can be an uncomfortable step (see Leslie’s article “Soft Skills or Bust” in this newsletter!). Perhaps you feel like it’s an intrusion, or that your comments will lose the trust you just gained from your employee, or maybe you simply don’t know how. Regardless of your reason for hesitation, it’s essential that you overcome it in order to ensure this lesson actually sticks.


The goal of feedback is to coach, correct or reinforce. As your student engages in their demonstration, genuinely study their behaviors and compare them to the standard. Are they perfectly aligned? Great, this is the perfect time to offer positive feedback and reinforce the lesson. And if there’s a discrepancy between the positive simulation and the demonstration, even a small one, offer suggestions for how the student can improve.


The important thing to realize during feedback is that you are the expert. You must have a complete, coherent and explicit understanding of the end result you desire, as well as the steps to get there. You can identify the behaviors it takes to make the lesson a reality—you just need to coach your students through the growing pains.


The way Dan likes to put it is simple: “Manage activity, not results.”


It’s easy to simply say, “That’s wrong, try again.” But it’s not effective, and no matter how many times you repeat it you’ll end up with the same wrong result. What is effective is pointing out the actionable adjustments they can make to improve, and why they will help.


It’s important to identify the positive and accurate parts of their demonstration (don’t embellish too much—just be honest), but it’s even more important to identify their weaknesses and coach them through those flaws. Remember, you’re the expert! You’re a leader because you’re already good at these things—but don’t stop there. You should know the lesson inside and out so that you can identify and alleviate even the subtlest of missteps.


Once you’ve finished with feedback, there’s only one thing left to do: demonstrate again.