After the Webinar: How Effective Is Your Feedback? Q&A with Halcyon Frank

Webinar presenter Halcyon Frank answered a number of your questions after her webinar, How Effective Is Your Feedback? Lessons for Dispatch and Criminal Justice Professionals. Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: I often start my feedback with, “I could be wrong, but…” and this creates issues with clarity.

Halcyon Frank:  My personal opinion is, yes. Only because part of the other thing that I’ve run into when I’ve been in supervisory positions is, it’s not clear and it’s also kind of wobbly, if you will, for lack of a better term. And if we’re being specific, and we’re focusing on facts, there’s really not like the opportunity to be wrong, because that’s just what it is. And I’m sure I’ve said it. And I think there are some situations with like friends, or if you’re trying to interpret behavior, maybe you think there’s something else going on. So, you’re like, I could be wrong, but I think this is what’s happening. I think that it can have its place. But there’s a good ted Talk.  It’s short it’s like Ted at Work. It’s, like, five minutes. And I apologize, I wish I could remember the title of it but it’s on, like, effective feedback, and they talk about blur words. And that could potentially fall into that kind of like blur words, blur phrases where the more you kind of circle around it, “Like, I could be wrong…” “But you know, I think that maybe….” by the time you get to your actual message, it’s so blurred and not clear that they’re not going to take away from it what you want them to take away from it.


Audience Question: What are the pros and cons of anticipating possible responses when giving feedback?

Halcyon Frank: I think pros-wise, obviously, then, you can just be prepared. Cons is, you know, we don’t want to have pre-conceived notions and sometimes it changes how we behave if we assume that somebody’s going to act a certain way. So, everyone is familiar with when you assume you make what you want out of you and me. So, I think there’s pros to recognizing the different responses you could get and how you might address them. But staying away from that con of expecting a specific type of response and just assuming that that’s how they’re going to respond.


Audience Question: How would you recommend that we handle feedback on somewhat minor issues, such as misspelled call notes or vague abbreviations, without seeming like a micromanager? 

Halcyon Frank: That’s a really good one. And I think sometimes, it’s just going to be received how it’s going to be received. And even though it like, can sound kind of great, “Like, yeah, a culture of feedback, that sounds cool, but like, it doesn’t work here.” That’s also where that can be really beneficial because you’re just used to like the team member next to you being like, “Oh, hey, did you see that like you misspell that?” Or like, “Hey, can you just fix that?” Or, “Hey, I’m not sure what you mean by that?” When that’s part of the normal day, it’s very much less like, does it feel like micromanagement, because like that’s just what we do, We hold each other accountable. And I think if you approach it from more of like holding each other accountable, accountable, then, like, I’m looking for all your little mistakes, that also changes it, too. And like for a not clear abbreviation, to an extent, that’s just something you have to address, because you can’t operate off of unclear communication like that could affect the outcome. So, some people may think it’s micro managing. You know, I think that, sometimes, that’s just how it’s going to be received how it is going to be received, but when it’s like a normal thing. My chief deputy that I’ve worked with most recently, I don’t mind kind of highlighting him if anybody knows who that is, but he is a big spellchecker guy. So, I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but when I get trainees, I’m like, “Listen, our Chief Deputy is really big on good spelling, so we want to make sure you are doing that.” And it makes it a little easier to, like interject a bit of humor. Of like “Man, that guy.” And because that’s how he’ll present it, too. So, finding things like that. I think, can maybe be helpful as well. I don’t know if that helps at all but.


Audience Question: What suggestions or strategies do you have for using feedback to manage up?

Halcyon Frank: That is also a really good question. So, feedback to manage up, and now one gets a little tricky, obviously, because depending on like the culture of your agency.

Approaching it, I think in the past, I’ve tried to approach it with like, “Hey, here’s what I’ve observed, Here’s what I think might help.” So, here’s, I’m being very specific. I’m focusing on the facts of it. Here’s what I think might help. I think sometimes, too, when we get in managing up or down, but into more like personal things, we always want to stay away from attacking or making them feel like we’re attacking them as a person and not like a situation or a specific behavior. Then, this time, But a lot of times, when I do this session, I talk about being called into a meeting and being told that no one wants to work with me, and no one likes me. And that is hugely devastating to anybody. So, I think, especially to when we’re talking about managing up or those more personal things, making sure we’re sticking to the facts. And just offering is like, “This is my observation,  I’m wondering if maybe this is something we could try.” Not a perfect answer. But that’s where my mind goes for that question.


Audience Question: Do you have suggestions for handling staff that indicate that it’s always the way that it’s been done? 

Halcyon Frank: That is such a huge thing that I hear. Like, across the board. I’m human side to stop myself and think “Yeah. Well, we use, —– So, we just keep doing that?” I think there’s always going to be those people but letting them know.  For the most part, there is nothing that we’ll change and try that we can’t go back to something else if it doesn’t work out. I think sometimes too, we darn as good as presenting changes, we present them in a way. Like, it’s this way, or it’s no way, and maybe opening it up as more of a like, we’re going to try this way. I know we’ve done it like this for so long We want to see if this might be more efficient. If it doesn’t work, We’ll go back to the other way. Like, this is nothing concrete. You know, we’re not setting anything in literal stone. Just want to try out some different things.


Audience Question: If you’re providing feedback on more than one thing, what’s the best way to do it so the receiver isn’t overwhelmed? 

Halcyon Frank: If possible, breaking it down or maybe doing it in different sessions, Um, hopefully, if you’re giving feedback on different stuff, there’s, like a common thread to it, if you will. So, just thinking, like, quality assurance reviews, I may have to give them feedback on that they didn’t get an address. Or they didn’t, you know, ask this question, but I have this kind of common thing, which is the call that we’re talking about. And that may not always apply, but if you do have some kind of common thread to tie it back to, so, it’s not just like, “Oh, you’re doing this wrong, and you’re doing this wrong…” “It’s, okay, we have this situation, and here’s what we need to address from that, here’s a kind of our common starting point, and then we’re going to work through the different things related.”


Audience Question: Do you try to avoid you and why statements when having a feedback conversation?

Halcyon Frank: I don’t know that I’ve ever consciously thought about that. But I didn’t know it is something to definitely consider. We don’t just want to be like you, you, you. Again, using quality assurance as an example. When I’m teaching that, we a lot of times focus on the third person. So, ”The call taker did not do this,” “The dispatcher did do this,” to take away some of that, so, it maybe doesn’t feel like quite an attack. Because they do that as something to be careful of. Not just, you know, “You do this, you do this.”  But looking for those ways to make it more of a third-person statement or just working it through in a way that, again, you’re not just highlighting maybe all the things that were done incorrectly. You just have the situation, and you can kind of move through it, the whole thing, and highlight the good and the bad.


Audience Question: What are your thoughts on blanket emails that have reminders about policies when everyone knows that refer actually to 1 or 2 people? 

Halcyon Frank: I am not sure who this is asking, but I feel like they might know me on a personal level. And my unprofessional answer, if I could have space would be, we don’t have enough time to talk about blanket e-mails. But I truly feel like they’re highly ineffective. I think that when you’re implementing a new procedure, there is a learning curve. So, I think blanket e-mails can be good because when we’re all new at something, there’s a very high likelihood that we all need a little bit of room for reminders, or maybe even the first time if you have a handful of people are doing it, and I don’t think it necessarily hurts to maybe just send out a quick reminder. When you’re getting reminders for the second, third, fourth, or fifth time.

One, most likely, depending on the size of your agency or your workplace, we all know who you’re talking about, which just creates more negativity within the dynamics of the team. Two, what I’ve found a lot of times, is we, the rest of us, or some of us. If you’re like me, you’re like, “Oh, my gosh, was that me? Did I do that? Oh, I didn’t mean to.” And the person who actually did it is sitting there, like, “No, I didn’t do that.” And they just aren’t not even intentionally, but they just maybe are oblivious to that. No, you’re the one that did this thing.

And it’s, also, it’s not, it’s not the specific, right? Like, being specific applies not only to what you’re talking about but to the audience as well. If you’re telling us all to do it, but no one else is doing it. It just doesn’t help anyone to do blank and e-mails in it. It very much erodes relationships very quickly, because you also feel like, “I keep getting knocked down for something that I’m not doing and I keep doing it correctly, and yet, I’m still getting this e-mail. I don’t know what you want from me, because I do it right. And you still send me an e-mail.” So, I’m very much against blanket emails.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of How Effective Is Your Feedback? Lessons for Dispatch and Criminal Justice Professionals.

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