Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.
Feedback, it’s important right? Not just when team members get things wrong, but when things are going well too.

You see Pete doing a job and he is not wearing his safety goggles. So, at your tool box meeting the following morning you tell everybody ‘You need to up your game and stop being slack about safety around here.’

You arrive at the office and find the team on task and working well. So, you drop by the staff café at morning tea time and tell them all ‘You’re doing a great job team, keep up the good work’.

Rants and rah-rah

You think you were giving feedback. But what you really did was have a rant and a rah-rah moment. You are suffering from the plague of the vague.

Phrases like ‘up your game’, ‘stop being slack’, ‘great job’ and ‘keep up the good work’ don’t give your team any meaningful information about what they need to do or what they have been doing well. Although your intentions were good, what you said will have little or no positive effect on performance and productivity.


Feedback that produces positive results needs to be given with the confidence of clarity. You can do that by making sure your feedback is SPOT ON:







A couple of examples

(Check them against the Spot On checklist. Notice how even a single statement can pass more than one test.)

When you see Pete not wearing his safety goggles, give him feedback ‘Pete if you keep doing that job without wearing safety goggles you could end up blind. Stop what you are doing and put your safety goggles on.’

When you arrive at the office and find the team on task and working well. Drop by the staff café at morning tea time and tell them, ‘I’m impressed by the focused effort you are all putting into the ABC contract at present. We are all achieving our targets and we are on track to meet the deadline.’

Interested in a workshop for your team leaders?

Seem familiar

I want to talk about a project, You want to focus on writing your report. I have an animated phone conversation. You need to think in silence. I like to eat apples while I work, You get annoyed by the sound of my chewing.

We are promised that open plan offices will help us to communicate and collaborate with colleagues. The reality can often be very different. 

 It’s not surprising really. Put any group of people together in close quarters with limited privacy day-after-day for hours at a time and what happens? There is the possibility of distraction and disruption resulting in irritation and frustration.

You might not be able to avoid the distraction and disruptions. What is possible is avoiding (or at least limiting) the irritation and frustration. But, to do that you need some skills.

One important skill to learn is how to let others know clearly and calmly what you do or do not want.

Try the STAR technique

STAR has its origins in behavioural job interviewing, but you can adapt it to everyday work situations.

STAR stands for Situation Task Action Result.

You can use the STAR technique to let colleagues know how their behaviour is affecting you and what you need. It helps you to do that without getting personal or emotive.

Use STAR to organise your thoughts

First, identify the effect of the person’s behaviour.

When I am working at my desk (Situation)

Trying to meet a report deadline (Task)

And you keep talking to me about your project (Action)

I find it hard to focus on my report writing (Result)

Now, use STAR to identify what you need.

When I am working at my desk (Situation)

Trying to meet a report deadline (Task)

I would appreciate not being interrupted (Action)

So that I can focus and meet my deadline. (Result)

Keep it real

It's time to talk to your colleague. To keep it real you won't  use the exact words you prepared. But as part of a natural conversation you will be more able to clearly and calmly state what you need.

It’s not the only tool you need to handle the challenges of open plan workspaces, but it will make a big difference. Practise using it and you’ll find that things will often run a lot smoother.


Interested in a workshop on achieving more in your open plan office for your team?

About Roydon Gibbs

roydon 2 460x300

Roydon Gibbs is a Senior Trainer at Skillset.

Roydon specialises in engagement - how to ensure that your staff enjoy coming to work, are at their most productive, speak well of your organisation after hours - and stay.

He has been training for more than 15 years. His knowledge of engagement comes from the research and his experience working with a wide range of organisations.

Roydon holds qualifications in adult teaching and learning. He is a professional member of the New Zealand Association for Training and Development and an accredited member of the National Speakers' Association.

Interested in training in leading virtual teams?

We’ll show your leaders how to keep your virtual teams motivated and productive.

Learn more

Interested in a workshop on customer service?

An experienced Skillset trainer will get your teams engaged in customer service.

Learn more

Interested in training in engaging employees?

A few key skills could dramatically improve your team’s morale, motivation and resilience. They will reduce absenteeism and the costs of high staff turnover. Let’s work with your leaders and your staff.

Learn more