Episode 7: Empowering Voices with Agentic Feedback: Nurturing Growth, Resilience, and Constructive Dialogue

Episode 7 February 13, 2024 00:46:10
Episode 7: Empowering Voices with Agentic Feedback: Nurturing Growth, Resilience, and Constructive Dialogue
Stand Up to Stand Out
Episode 7: Empowering Voices with Agentic Feedback: Nurturing Growth, Resilience, and Constructive Dialogue

Feb 13 2024 | 00:46:10

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Hosted By

Stuart Paap

Show Notes

Join us for an engaging episode where we get to hear from Dr. Camilla Griffiths, a distinguished social psychologist and research scientist trained at Stanford. She will jump into the transformative power of agentic feedback and social dynamics, exploring the art of impactful communication and how strategic use of feedback can inspire change and foster growth. 

Dr. Griffiths has a specialized focus on addressing racial inequality and bias, and her work is pivotal in enhancing outcomes for historically underserved communities. She collaborates closely with educators and media professionals, offering fresh and potent insights on leveraging social science principles to uplift and empower. 

In this discussion, we will learn about the critical role of feedback in personal and organizational development, the challenges of confronting and overcoming pushback, and the profound impact of informed, assertive communication in leadership. We will uncover essential strategies and mindsets that enable individuals and organizations to thrive in an ever-evolving social landscape. So, get ready for an enlightening conversation!

Hosted by Stuart Paap

Does embracing constructive critique, engaging in meaningful dialogues, and fostering an environment of growth and resilience lead to personal and organizational advancement? Join us as we explore these themes with Dr. Camilla Griffiths, whose extensive research at the intersection of social psychology and social justice offers invaluable insights into the power of communication and feedback.

Discover how strategic communication and the principled use of agentic feedback can catalyze change, driving innovation and improvement in various spheres. Learn from Camilla's expertise in navigating the complexities of influence and leadership, especially in the face of resistance or skepticism.

Dr. Camilla Griffiths is renowned for her contributions to understanding and addressing societal inequalities through her research. Her work sheds light on critical issues and provides practical solutions for fostering inclusivity and understanding in diverse settings. Connect with Camilla on Twitter @camgriffi or visit her website at www.camillagriffiths.com to delve deeper into her research and initiatives.

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Stand up to stand out. 

Stuart Paap is laser-focused on helping more people unlock brilliant and bold ideas. He works with pioneering biotechs, technology companies, and healthcare companies and regularly presents at universities and tech incubators like the Harvard Innovation Lab. He’s also a former stand-up comedian and is a yellow belt in Judo, which strikes fear into no one.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] Speaker A: Welcome to stand up to stand out, the podcast helping you master how you communicate. Let's dive in. I am thrilled to have Dr. Camilla Griffiths with us today. Dr. Griffiths is a Stanford trained social psychologist and research scientist. Her work specializes in understanding and combating racial inequality and bias. Her impactful work is aimed at improving outcomes for historically marginalized groups, collaborating with professionals in the education and media sector. She brings a unique and powerful perspective to her research. Get ready to have an enlightening discussion about leveraging feedback, cultivating growth, and using the power of social science to build and elevate everyone. Camilla, it is great to have you. [00:00:50] Speaker B: Thank you. It's very good to be here. Thank you for having me today. Excited. [00:00:54] Speaker A: It's a thrill. So I loved your article in Scientific American, and immediately after reading it, it triggered all kinds of bells and lights in my mind. And there's a term that is prominent in the article which is agentic feedback. And my first question is, can you define agentic feedback and where this comes from? [00:01:19] Speaker B: Yeah, absolutely. So I define agentic feedback as feedback that really puts the recipient front and center. So instead of making feedback an opportunity for me to demonstrate my expertise and everything that I know and to sort of take the wheels, agentic feedback says that the person receiving the feedback should really be in the driving seat. So I'm giving opportunities for the person to show me what they know. I'm asking questions. I am really giving opportunities for the person to be an agent in whatever they want to do. So hence the term agentic feedback. So I've studied this in the context of teachers and students and in that context in writing feedback. What that looks like is asking questions like, can you tell me more about this or can you check your spelling here? I think there might be an error. As opposed to a less agentic form of feedback would be correcting that misspelled word or rewriting a sentence that you think could be clearer and not giving the person the opportunity to rewrite it themselves. So agentic feedback really puts the ball in the court of the person receiving the feedback in order to be a more active agent in sort of revising whatever it is they're working on, whether it's an essay for school, a pitch deck at work, preparing for a presentation to the board, whatever it may be. Agentic feedback allows people the opportunity to really be drivers of their own actions and to get the support from the person providing feedback. [00:02:50] Speaker A: Yeah, this reminds me of that concept that's in psychology, which is why do people do things? They do things for their own reasons, not your reasons. And so it seems like agency or agentic feedback is allowing the person who's interested in your success, your teacher, your boss, your manager, to help you co create a path of not only ownership, but success. Is that in the right direction? [00:03:21] Speaker B: Yeah, I think co creation is a great word. I think of this as collaboration as opposed to necessarily, like, one way teaching or instruction. Right. So I think a lot of people think about feedback as a one way street as a thing that I am giving you. I am using my expertise or my authority and sort of bestowing that on you to help you grow. Whereas I think we should think of feedback as a two way street, as a collaborative effort, where I am trying to understand what you know and what you understand and where you are coming from, and using that to really guide my feedback in a way that allows you to show what you know and to grow what you know. So that means a conversation. It means question asking and answering and listening and using that interaction to really build the feedback. So if I know that this person's actually really strong in telling a story, but they don't have quite the right pieces there, so let me ask questions that allow them to get to the right sort of content that they're going to put in that story that I know they can build as opposed to just giving it to them, which is, I think a lot of the way that people think about feedback is just giving someone what they need to do a task. [00:04:37] Speaker A: So the environment has to matter because kids have to go to school or I have to have a job. So feedback sort of seems like it's part of your requirement. But agency introduces this concept of choice of having a creative element to charting your own path. People who want to be there versus have to be there to cut this stuff out. What I've noticed in training is there's a difference between, I call them passengers, prisoners and pilots. Pilots want to be there. Passengers are like, what do you got? Prisoners are like, I'm here because my manager needed to be. So if we take that sort of concept back to agentic feedback in school, where you have to get feedback versus wanting to get feedback, I guess I'm trying to think of a good question that is speaking to the circumstances with which somebody is in front of someone else to even want to receive feedback in the first place. That was a statement, not a question. But, yeah, if you want to go. [00:05:39] Speaker B: With that, yeah, I have a couple of thoughts, and you can let me know if this sort of gets at the thing you were talking about. But I think a lot of the time, people who are not receptive to feedback or even just reticent to being in class or at work or whatever it may be, often I think that comes from a place of in the past, not feeling like they have been valued there or accepted there, or like their contributions have been taken seriously or felt like they mattered. And so I think there's sometimes that's a sort of a symptom or a consequence of past experiences at school or at work. So I think often if people are in either of these contexts and feel like they are taken seriously, like their contributions are taken seriously, like their identities are taken seriously, then I think they show up in a different way. Right. And so I think agentic feedback comes into this because it's a way for a manager, for a teacher, for a context, to communicate to a person. No, I think that you have a lot of valuable things to say. I think you matter here. I think your contributions matter here. And me giving you this kind of feedback, asking you questions, trying to understand where you're coming from, giving you the opportunity to show me what you're doing, show me what you're thinking. That's a way of implicitly, maybe not so implicitly, communicating without saying, like, you belong here, you matter. I value what you have to say of communicating those things because I'm actively giving you a place to communicate those things, to express those things, to chart your own way, to be an agent. And so I think that there's a way that feedback can potentially sort of catalyze a new, healthier, sort of more inclusive environment or context because it implicitly sends the message, like, I care about what you have to say, because I'm actively giving you an opportunity to say it and engaging in a conversation with you about it. [00:07:44] Speaker A: So feedback can be tactical at the moment. It can be quarterly, it can be monthly. It can be annually. When you're trying to get started with incorporating some elements of agentic feedback, what are some tips, best practices that somebody can just start somewhere with? A teammate, a colleague, someone they're mentoring? [00:08:09] Speaker B: Yeah. So I think that the easiest way for me to think about agentic feedback is when it comes to a tangible thing that you're giving feedback on. So whether you're in school or you're at work, whether it's a report, a pitch deck, a board presentation, a presentation to your team, building in opportunities for feedback, I think, is the very first step. So often people will say, I'd like for you to present to our team meeting on Thursday and then maybe check in about that on Wednesday afternoon. Right. So not giving a lot of, not building in a lot of infrastructure for feedback to be a conversation, for feedback to be a back and forth and an opportunity to show the person that, hey, I want to know what you're thinking, and I want to give you information or scaffolding or instruction necessarily to help you improve that and do that together. So building in the time and the opportunity for feedback, I think, is the very first step. It's a baseline requirement for feedback to be effective is not to squeeze in the opportunity for feedback into sort of a time constraint because that's the first way that sort of agency is going to go out the window. Right. If this presentation needs to be given tomorrow, then that doesn't give us a lot of opportunity for me to have this back and forth, for me to say, like, oh, can you tell me a little bit more what you were thinking with this slide? I don't know that I fully understand what you were going for because it just needs to get done. So it's a lot more likely that I'm just going to take over that slide and change it myself. Right. And so I think when you're asking sort of how often or how can people get started, I think it's building structures and systems in a workplace that make sure that there's time for feedback and that it's not sort of this last minute thing that's an add on to a task, but it's built into a task. Getting done is allowing time maybe a week before the thing has to be done for feedback to be given incorporated and for a conversation to happen between a manager and their employee. [00:10:21] Speaker A: So looking at agendic feedback, where you're asking somebody to own the process and own the task, does this help separate the person from the task? Because one of the things I've heard about feedback is separate the person from the behavior. So, for example, if you look at someone who was late to a meeting and interrupted the client, you could say the behavior that I saw was, you showed up at eight, five, the meeting started at eight. Can you explain more? And then you could say, like, you spoke over the client when they were talking about their important legacy. Can you understand more? So how does one use agendic feedback? Or does it speak to separating the person from the behavior? [00:11:11] Speaker B: Yeah, I think that the same concepts can apply when we're thinking about behaviors as opposed to tasks or projects. Right. I think that agentic feedback can essentially be thought of in that context. Let's take the sort of timeliness question, right. In that context. Again, I think you can go back to allowing the person to be an agent and not just a product of that behavior. So I think separating the person from the behavior is one way to frame it. I think another way to frame it is giving the person an opportunity to speak for themselves and not letting the behavior speak for them so they may have a perfectly good reason for being late. Right. And so giving the person an opportunity, asking questions, engaging in a conversation about where is that behavior coming from? And giving the person an opportunity to explain their thinking, explain their sort of process, why did they get to that point? What was the thing that drove that behavior? And not letting the behavior define the person? That's just a person that's always late. That's just a trait that they have. Similarly, when you're dealing with students and teachers in writing, this is not just a bad writer. This isn't just a person that can't conjugate their verbs. This is the product of something else. Let me try to understand what that something else is. [00:12:34] Speaker A: You mentioned a term, scaffolding. Can you explain what is scaffolding and how does it work with effective feedback? [00:12:42] Speaker B: Yeah, so I think of scaffolding if you think about the literal term. Right. So scaffolding for a building is what you need to put up in order for everything to sort of stay in place and be solid. And so feedback is not useful if it's not resting on a bed of fundamental sort of knowledge or instruction. So, in the context of teachers and education, where I've studied this, that looks like making sure students know the fundamentals of spelling and conjugation and sentence structure, and constructing a five paragraph essay before you give them the feedback to change their topic sentence. If they don't know what a topic sentence is or how to do that, that feedback is not going to be useful. So scaffolding is essentially making sure that people have the resources, the information that they need in order to make good use of that feedback. So there's a lot of research that suggests that this is sort of like a precondition to good feedback, is making sure that the instruction is there. So in a work context, this looks like making sure people have enough resources to do the job that you're asking them to do. Whether that's time or material resources or the team that they need, feedback can be really frustrating and counterproductive. If you're asking someone to do something that they can't actually do or don't have the resources to do. So making sure people have the training that they need to do the thing that you're asking them to do or to do the job that they're tasked with doing. And so I see scaffolding as sort of the necessary infrastructure or information that people need in order to make use of the feedback that you're giving them. [00:14:29] Speaker A: So you've got to have the right approach agency involve them. You've got to have the right scaffolding or steps. And then what about the cadence of getting and giving feedback? Because everyone benefits from feedback. You need feedback during the activities or right after. You need feedback on a weekly, monthly, quarterly basis. How do you think about that? Or at least what has your experience and research shown you in terms of implementing the right cadence and length of feedback? It can be quick, feedback can be in depth, but at a certain point, you have to be able to apply it. So how do you think about that in terms of implementing the right structure in general? [00:15:10] Speaker B: Yeah, it's a great question, and it's something that I've always wanted to study empirically. I actually haven't had a chance to study myself, but I have a lot of ideas that are based in sort of anecdotal data, but also my experience working with teachers. I think that feedback, especially of this kind, that does this sort of communicating, one thing we haven't touched on yet that I think is a critical component of agentic feedback is that it communicates that I believe you can do something. So if I'm giving you feedback that gives you agency independence, I'm saying, show me how you would do this. You are now thinking like, oh, wow, camilla really thinks that I can do this. She's giving me the opportunity to do this. She has the expectation that I can do it. And so I think in addition to being a collaborative process, it's like a relationship building tool, right? Because it's communicating like, I think you can do this. The person then has the belief that if they think I can do this, maybe I can do this. Let me try harder to do it. And so for that reason, I think agentic feedback is most important. And again, this is sort of me speculating at this stage, but I think it's most important at the beginning of any sort of working relationship or relationship between a teacher and a student. So I've always thought about agency feedback in an education context being most useful at the beginning of the school year. So giving people that indication early, I'm giving you this kind of feedback because I think you have the capacity to do this, that instills in that person, that belief early on in that relationship, and then that relationship can build on that over time. So, to your question of cadence, I think that probably early on, providing the scaffolding, the resources, and the agentic message in your feedback builds a solid foundation so that later on, maybe that kind of feedback isn't as necessary. So again, this is a hypothesis I have, is that agentic feedback early in a relationship, in a working relationship, let's say you just get hired or you're put on a new team and it's your first project. Right. Getting agentic feedback in that moment, I think, is particularly important and useful because it lays the foundation for me to understand, okay, my manager is giving me an opportunity. They care about what I think. They value my contribution, and that's going to lay the foundation for that relationship so that maybe later in the year, we have a really tight deadline. We have to give this presentation next week. There isn't really a lot of time to give feedback. But I already know my manager believes in me. I already know that my manager thinks that I can do things, hard things. So maybe it's not as big of a blow, maybe it's not as big of a deal. If my manager just fixes that slide the night before the presentation, I'm not going to take that as an indication that my manager doesn't think I can do this, because we already have this foundation of our relationship. And this actually goes to this concept called micro inclusions. It's a colleague of mine, called a colleague of mine, Greg Muragishi, does this research, and he defines micro inclusions as sort of actions or treatments that communicate to someone. And he studies this in a business organizational context that indicate that my contributions are valued, I am valued, and that the things that I do are taken seriously in a context. And so I think of agentic feedback as just sort of an example of a micro inclusion. So he's tested this in corporate and organizational settings, and he's tested this in terms of how much do people feel like they belong in a context where they're experiencing more or less sort of micro inclusions. And it's one way among many that managers can sort of let people know that their personal contributions are valuable towards sort of a shared goal in an office context. [00:19:16] Speaker A: Yeah, you're making me think of so many things here. There's just so much to unpack that I love. One of the things I thought about was Greg Popovich, who I think was the head coach of the San Antonio spurs. Was very beloved as an NBA head coach, and I heard he had two rules, which were, I love you to death, and we have high standards here. And it was everything people felt cared for, respected. You were here for a purpose, and we do things a certain way, which is just a wonderful message to send. I dovetail that with some research I've seen from Adam Grant at Upenn that looked at, I think, 19 words that can set the tone, which is, I believe you can do this and how do we get there? And so I think you're looking at that messaging. You're talking about, Camilla, that it really is a beacon of love and trust that you're here and you're safe, which is one of the primal urges we all have. We want to belong. We want to be safe. And at the same time, we will achieve high things and do amazing things if we feel safe and secure, which is a good transition to the next concept of psychological safety. But glad you just encapsulated that. So if I recap some of the things I've heard, number one, agendic feedback is really about involving the other person, making them a partner in their own success. Number two, there's no perfect formula for the cadence or rhythm of it, but there's something that we can look at in terms of implementing some certain regularity so people feel that they have a chance to do it regularly. You also said there's a value in investing that connection up front so people feel cared for. I think setting the tone that this is someone who belongs here, that they're part of the group. And then I also think there's an element of adding high standards that are behaviors that people can aspire to and scaffolding that they can find the steps to achieve those goals so that they know the keys to success. It's not a hidden code. Did I miss something there? Did you want to add to that? [00:21:27] Speaker B: I think that's the gist for sure. I'd say that it's not just about sort of making people active partners. Feedback should be useful, right? So I don't want to just communicate that it's about just making people agents. It's about giving useful information. It's not just that people think about feedback as just giving information. And so I think what we're adding to that concept is we're giving information. So I'm giving you feedback about the quality of your work, but I'm not doing that by doing it for you. I'm not just giving you the answer, I think is the flip side. Of agentic feedback is what some research calls direct feedback. So it's just doing it for you, as opposed to giving you the tools and the opportunity to do it yourself. So I think that contrast is helpful. To really understand sort of what agentic feedback is, is to understand what it's not, which is just me taking things into my own hands and doing it for you. Because I think sometimes that can be the easy thing to do. Right. So I think often the quickest and easiest thing to do is to step in and do the thing you know is better or you think is better, but that can, I think, be damaging. So that's just the one thing I would add. [00:22:46] Speaker A: Yeah. And true masters of giving feedback will also adapt their style and delivery to the person and the personality. If you notice, somebody responds better to a positive approach that's constructive. Other people might like to jump up and do something a bit more driven by their own engine. Everyone has a different style, and learning how to tailor the feedback to that person's preferred style is probably beneficial. [00:23:15] Speaker B: Absolutely. [00:23:16] Speaker A: So let's pivot to psychological safety. This is a term that I learned about, like many of us five, six, seven years ago, when there was a long 15 year study, I think, put out by Google where they looked at what does it take for high performing teams to succeed? And one of the conclusions, if I understand correctly, was psychological safety, that you can take risks and you can go farther because you're safe here. So how important is psychological safety in terms of setting up the conditions to receive or give feedback? [00:23:52] Speaker B: Yeah, I think it's critical. I think going back to this point on sort of relationship building, there's just so much research that shows how powerful expectations are and your perceptions of what the expectations are of you. If someone has low expectations of me, I am way less likely to take risks and challenge myself and put myself out there because I know that it's not met with high standards or high expectations. And so I think creating a psychologically safe space is both helpful for the recipient of feedback or the recipient of criticism, because it allows me to take that in while knowing that this person cares for me. This person sees me as a person who can achieve something. And it's also helpful for the person giving feedback because you know that the people in that space are going to receive it and are going to take it authentically and are going to take risks in sort of implementing that feedback. So you correctly stated that psychological safety is essentially allowing people, or creating a space where people feel safe to take risks. And in an educational context, that means maybe raising your hand when you might not have before, because you are going to say something, even if you don't know if it's the right thing. In a work context or business context, that might mean proposing that idea you have to your manager, even though you're not sure if it'll work or how they'll react, but you think it's a good idea and you want to put it out there. So really giving people the context and creating a context that allows for risk taking and people challenging themselves to improve and grow. [00:25:37] Speaker A: So I think about psychological safety as living it versus talking about it. So I know some people who talk about it. And the image in my mind is, if you're on the sidelines and there's frozen ice and a lake, and you say, no, we are psychologically safe. Go out on the ice, but no one's on the ice. It's like, well, you're saying one thing, but no one's behaving that way versus everyone who's in the center of the ice bonfire and a cup of hot chocolate saying, no, come out here, it's safe here. And you go, well, I can, because I'm seeing the behaviors. So that was a long winded way of saying, when I've heard people say, well, I would love to have psychological safety, but it's not happening around me. Where can someone begin in a situation like that, other than just leave the company, leave the organization, if they're committed to the cause or if there's friendships and collaboration or they're committed to the work? Where does someone begin if they're not noticing it's ubiquitous and they still want to establish those conditions. [00:26:43] Speaker B: I think it's really hard for someone not in a position of power to establish psychological safety. So I think it's people who have control over the culture, the norms, the processes in a space that really have the most ability to create psychological safety. And so I think it can be challenging for people without that influence to fix that, other than suggesting and advocating for processes to change to increase psychological safety. So there's a great paper, again, sort of grounded in the world of education, which is where my expertise is from, about psychological safety during difficult conversations in classrooms. So during sort of conversations about race in a classroom, and they identify, and this, I think, is common among across studies of psychological safety, three sort of actions a teacher can take to create psychological safety. And this is based on sort of an observation of actual classrooms. So one is what they call attunement. So this is when the teacher is able to be, in the moment, demonstrate investment in students ideas. So this is sort of going back to agentic feedback, right. I think agentic feedback can be a way of achieving attunement, really showing investment in understanding people's perspectives. So that's like asking questions, really listening, responsive to people's needs and expressed its concerns or desires or interests. So that's sort of attuning to the needs or the sort of the vibe of the group. Right. Our second one is power sharing. So I think this is a really important one. So a lot of organizations are really hierarchical, but there are a lot of opportunities for power or influence to be shared with the group, right? So not for it to be a purely hierarchical situation. And so this is the person sort of in control. So in the classroom, this is a teacher being aware of that power differential and acknowledging that and saying, and acknowledging, I have a certain amount of control here, but you all have also a certain amount of influence, and there's only so much that can be done without this sort of group and the input and perspectives of the group. And so redistributing sort of like power, that can be little things like allowing people to lead meetings themselves, that can be giving people the opportunity to change customs or norms or processes in a given group, team, or meeting. So power sharing and allowing people the opportunity to be, again, sort of active agents can be a way of creating psychological safety, because you don't constantly feel like you're sort of just at a set level in a sort of a hierarchy. And then the third is authenticity. So, in this context of this educational context, this is when the teacher sort of is an authentic person. So they share their perspective, they share their opinions. They share their concerns, their worries. They are sort of an authentic person themselves because that models for the other people in the group, in this case, students, the ability to do that themselves. If you have modeled for you someone who's really closed off, you're not sure if they're, like a real person or what they think about things or how they feel about things. It can be really hard for you then, to turn around and express that. If your manager is really asking you, I really want to know what you think. I really want to know how you feel. I really want to hear your perspective. But they themselves are not sharing those things. That can be really threatening, and that can be a signal, like, actually, this isn't a place where I can do those things. [00:30:31] Speaker A: Yeah. So if I got it right, attunement, power sharing and authenticity. Those are the three factors. I want to talk about authenticity for a minute, because I've shared this with people, and I've seen some research that say if you want to share authenticity, you can share some areas where you've come up less than short or failed or had some stumbles, and then also share where you've turned that into learning from success. So really adding those two elements so people can see that journey and see that you're not perfect. No one is. But you've also been able to turn missteps into learnings or to improving yourself. So there seems to be a bit of a ratio between those two. I've noticed sometimes people get really uncomfortable with authenticity. How can I share just a little bit to seem authentic? And then, of course, I want to talk about how impressive I am. And I think we know at our gut level, okay, they said I had a hangnail once, and now they're talking about how they're the greatest manager ever. The ratio is off. On the flip side, if someone's like, I've been in jail twice, and I'm a career failure, but as CEO, we're like, wait a minute. So all kidding aside, there's got to be a bit of a ratio between inauthenticity when you're creating authenticity. Talking about missteps or foibles or failings, but also talking about learnings and ways of success. How do you think about that relationship between those two to create that sense of authenticity that underpins psychological safety? [00:32:15] Speaker B: Yeah. And I think there's probably a lot more research than I am familiar with on this specific topic. But from what I do know, I think it has to be relevant to the task or the group at hand. Right. I think that people want to feel like this is a person who's in this with me, whatever this is. And so challenges or missteps or difficulties that can relate to the people in the room and the kinds of challenges that they may have in that given moment or in relation to the task that they're working on. I think that can be particularly powerful because you want people to feel like they can express the challenges that they're having in that moment. Right. The challenges that they're having at work. So maybe it's a work related challenge that the person shares. If there's a conversation around identity and struggling with feelings of privilege or oppression, sharing something that is salient or tangible or related to the topic at hand, I think, is where you have the most potential to then create a space where it's safe for people to share that same kind of challenge or difficulty in terms of the balance. I don't know that I have sort of like a silver bullet on that. I think that that's really going to change person to person. And I'm not familiar with research that sort of looks at that question specifically. I think it's a really good one, and I've seen lots of examples of where it goes wrong and where it goes right. So I think that that to me, feels a little bit more idiosyncratic and less open to sort of a hard and fast rule. [00:34:04] Speaker A: I think there's something know, Robert Cialdini's influence talks a lot about likability. Know someone has to be likable, and so what creates likability? I think there's some vulnerability there that they feel like this is somebody who I can relate to. They don't have to be like me, they don't have to had my story, but they have a humility to them, they have an accessibility to them, and they're not shielding themselves from others. So I want to talk about when feedback is tough to give. Maybe someone is noticing, someone is not changing their behaviors or they're falling even further behind, or they have difficult news to share with that person. From your research or from your experience, what are some ways to navigate when feedback is not always going to be neutral or even positive, but really trending towards the negative and needing to deliver difficult news? [00:35:04] Speaker B: Yeah, so I think delivering criticism or negative feedback is always going to be challenging. There is a decent amount of research, and again, my expertise is on sort of marginalized groups and how to improve their experiences in educational settings. And so there's a really great line of work on delivering criticism to members of these groups in a way that they will receive it and not see it as sort of a signal of bias. So one danger. So one thing you didn't bring up that I think is sort of an important challenge in any diverse context is how do you deliver critical feedback and not have the person think that it's because of their identity, right? That they're being criticized or getting negative feedback because of something about them specifically, or them and their group and their identity. And what this research has done is called wise feedback. And actually, my research grew out of sort of this tradition on wise feedback is to upfront establish high expectations. So as you've probably noticed, expectations are very powerful. And there's a long history in psychology about the sort of the power of expectations. And if you let someone know before giving critical feedback, I have high expectations for you. And the really critical thing that they sort of uncovered in this research is not just communicating high expectations, but also communicating the belief that, you know, they can meet those expectations. That really does a lot to frame the critical feedback, so not necessarily soften the blow. It might still be critical feedback, but it provides the context in which you can interpret that feedback. So now this critical feedback isn't because they don't think that I am capable. It's not because they have a stereotype about African Americans or my group in general, but they're actually just giving me the feedback because they have high standards for me and they know that I can achieve them. And so the feedback is really an effort to get me to that high standard. And so it allows me to sort of actually hear that feedback and incorporate it, as opposed to sort of start to worry about what is the motivation for this critical feedback or where is it coming from? Because you've clarified that up front. And so there's a number of studies that have been run about how to deliver that. So in the original studies, it's a note on the paper that they've gotten critical feedback on that literally says, I'm giving you this feedback because I have high standards, and I believe that you can reach them something right around those lines. So they tested, if I put this note, there versus no note, how do people then receive that feedback? And there was a significant increase in the students likelihood of actually revising that essay and turning it in. And even more dramatically, there was an influence on sort of the students grades at the end of the year who did or didn't receive this sort of more wise feedback. And so I think that this can very easily be translated to a work context. So finding ways to communicate to your employees the high standards and your ability and your belief that they can achieve those high standards really provides a healthy context and sort of soil from which critical feedback can actually be effective and useful, as opposed to threatening. [00:38:36] Speaker A: Right. It just sends such a beautiful message that you're part of it, you're part of the team, and there's something outside of ourselves that are these standards that we've all agreed to. I've also seen that when people feel like they're a part of the process to create even the standards, then the behaviors around them are something that they can own more and more. And I think what you're talking about in general with agentic feedback and psychological safety is make someone feel like an integral partner in the success. And I think we all know this, but having the tools or the reminder. You had said it earlier, not in this discussion, but I'd like you to bring this up. You had said this earlier about coining the term agendic. Feedback is something that can be very useful because it now lives sort of off the page and in someone's mind as, how do I bring agency into this discussion? So do you have some general tips on ways to sort of keep it top of mind, bring it into all discussions, not just feedback, but hallway conversations, meetings online, and just making sure that people are being more responsible to engage with people in this way that encourages a sense of agency, respect, and love for their colleagues and partners. [00:39:54] Speaker B: Yeah, absolutely. So this term agentic feedback grew out of lots of other research, and I also want to make sure to say that I didn't invent agentic feedback. It was defining it and pulling it out of what teachers in my case were already doing. They were already doing things like asking questions, pointing to errors without correcting them, giving sort of information for how to do something, and then inviting the student to do it themselves. These were all things teachers were already doing. And what I tried to do is pull that out, define it, find ways to measure it, and then sort of communicate that to other people so that they can notice the things that they already do themselves. So I think managers, people at work already do a lot of these things, but I think naming it, giving it, sort of bucketing it as a thing that you can do allows people to notice it when they're doing it and notice it when they're not doing it. I think even for myself on a daily basis, I mentor a few people. I lead a couple of teams. There are so many times where I find myself being like, it'd just be really easy for me to just fix this and do it the way I know I want it done. But sort of catching yourself in that moment and being like, okay, what questions can I ask this person to get them to think a little bit differently about the problem? What resource can I send them that will allow them to sort of restructure this document or this presentation? What meeting can we have or what conversation can we have that might move us along in this process without me stepping in and doing it myself? And so I think these are all tools that people already have. These are things that people already do. But it's catching yourself in that moment and thinking, I know this person is capable of doing this thing, and if I think that they need help to do that thing, that's not out of the question. Right. Agentic feedback doesn't say that you can't show someone how to do something, but it's about making sure that when you are, you're also communicating. Hey, I'm giving you this resource. I'm teaching you how to do this thing because I know that you can do this in the future. I just want to make sure that you have what you need to be able to pull it off. And so it's about reframing and taking those moments to ask yourself what this person needs, whether it's a question, whether it's a resource, whether it's a conversation in order to do the thing in front of them. [00:42:25] Speaker A: It reminds me of a recent quote which said, the purpose of leadership is not to create followers, but to create more leaders. And with agendic feedback, you're making that person a leader in their own life and they're going to lead. And it's a long game. I have a four and a half year old and every time I do something for him that he can do himself, I'm training him to rely on others for something that he could rely on himself for. So it's not about uncaring, it's just saying, what can I do to provide the conditions to have them succeed? And I think this goes for teammates and colleagues and anyone, and I appreciate that. Well, is there anything that I did not cover or ask you, Camilla, that you would want to cover or a message that you'd want to share with people who are building teams and joining teams and just trying to build the future of innovation in healthcare, in tech, in clean tech, people who are really committed to building a better future for everyone. [00:43:23] Speaker B: Yeah, I think we've covered most of, I think the gist of what this thing of agentic feedback is. I would just say that I think that this is useful for everybody. I think it's a really valuable thing to both give people the resources, infrastructure, ability to do or not ability, but the structure that they need to do what they need to do. But I think one thing that's often missing is the sort of interpersonal component, especially in a corporate context. It's the communication to someone, even if it's implicit. And I think often it's better that it's implicit. Sometimes it can be condescending to say, I think you can do this. One thing that I love about agentic feedback is that it does that communicating through action rather than through words. So it allows you to say to someone, you know what? I think you have what it takes to do this thing by allowing them to show you how they can do that thing. And I think that that can be a particularly powerful message to people and people from groups for whom that message hasn't often been communicated and for whom there's the expectation. Even if it's not said that, I'm not sure that you can do this. So the stereotype is that maybe I don't think you have the ability, the skill level or the experience to do this thing. And so agendic feedback is just one small way. I don't think it's the only way to communicate an expectation and a standard that both promotes learning and growth and also builds a relationship. And I think that that relationship building goes a long way, both in creating better workplaces and more sort of equitable workplaces. [00:45:07] Speaker A: It's a beautiful thought and it's a wonderful tool and it's accessible and it's available to everyone to use. So I just want to thank you so much, Dr. Camilla Griffiths, for sharing your insights, your inspiration, the tools, and just spending some time with us. I really appreciated the wonderful conversation and there's just a lot of takeaways here, so I'm excited to listen to it again and again and just remind myself of these principles. So thank you for spending the time today. [00:45:35] Speaker B: Thank you so much. I had a blast. I really appreciate the conversation. [00:45:38] Speaker A: Absolutely. So you can find her online on Twitter at Kim Griffey, is that right? [00:45:44] Speaker B: Right. [00:45:45] Speaker A: And then, of course, your website, camillagriphis.com. We'll have links to this in all the show notes as well as the transcript. And I just want to thank you so much for being on standup to stand out. It was a pleasure to have you on the show. [00:45:58] Speaker B: Thank you so much. [00:46:00] Speaker A: Welcome to stand up, to stand out, the podcast, helping you master how you communicate. Let's dive in.

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