What is Start, Stop, Continue?

A change-management framework to improve team and self.

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It’s rare to find a peer or manager that gives you regular and honest feedback. There are many reasons for this, including lack of time, structure, and often: uncomfortable for all parties involved. However, inadequate feedback can keep players from developing into championship-winning teams.

There are many ways to provide feedback. A great coach provides constant feedback hundreds of times in an hour. On the other hand, a corporate exec might only have the opportunity to give feedback on her 1:1 (one-on-ones) with her subordinates once every quarter or year.

Coaches and executives are not the only ones that can provide critical feedback. In addition, peers can provide valuable feedback that may not be available to the manager or leader of the team simply because they don’t have the same visibility. Sometimes, it’s behaviours and attitudes revealed outside of the office or pitch (grounds where football (soccer) is played) that are variables that may be worth exploring; the stuff you learn when you go out for a pint of Guinness.

This article aims to answer the following questions:

  • What is a change-management tool?
  • What is Start, Stop, Continue?
  • What are some best practices?
  • Is it right for you and your team?

 


 

What is a change-management framework?

 
Typically a change-management tool is an application, but can also be a framework, to drive organizational change.
 


 

What is Start, Stop, Continue?

 
A change-management framework, providing peer-to-peer feedback. Essentially, participants tell one another:

  • One thing you should start doing
  • One thing you should stop doing
  • One thing you should continue doing

 


 

Start, Stop, Continue best practices

 

  • Consider smaller intimate groups over larger groups. Larger than 7-8 members in a group can be a daunting and clumsy exercise.
  • Make sure you carve enough time. It would be a shame to start the process and end halfway complete.
  • Opt for one person receiving feedback at a time. Everyone in the group goes around and provides feedback to one person. Once all members have spoken, move on to the next person on the left.
  • Start with the person who exemplifies the values of courage and kindness. As a result, her influence will help others deliver potentially tough feedback courageously and kindly.

 

Providing feedback:

  • Always provide feedback live and not in written form. Whatever you have to say, say it to the person directly. That said, have your thoughts written out in advance. Don’t rely on memory, and never talk off-the-cuff.
  • Provide the most critical point for each. For example, you may have three recommendations for the person to stop doing. Choose the most important one that you believe will impact the person’s growth and development. Don’t rob the person from getting this vital insight by being cowardly.
  • Be polite and considerate. This exercise is not an opportunity for you to thrash into someone, but rather, give them the information they need to be better, gently and kindly.
  • Be concise and honest. Don’t beat around the bush and tippy toe around the point. See example below:

 

“Sometimes, I think, you can perhaps, when it makes sense, to um, you know, be more considerate about others by, you know, um, maybe leveraging, have you heard of…”
“Please stop interrupting others when they speak.”
Cowardly
Courageous
 
 

Receiving feedback:

  • Leave your Ego at the door. You’re here to better understand your peers’ realities, not impose yours.
  • Let the person providing feedback have the floor without interruption. If you have clarifying questions, save them until the person has finished, which leads to the next point.
  • Remember, it’s typically more uncomfortable for the person giving feedback than receiving it. We’re hardwired to want to have people like us; thus, giving feedback can feel both foreign and unnatural.
  • Thank each person for their feedback. Be genuinely polite and considerate.

 

A few notes to consider:

  • Not all members are qualified to provide critical feedback. Perhaps a new intern can give the CEO valuable insight into her performance or behaviour, but likely not. Feedback should be between peers that often work together.
  • When receiving feedback that goes against your grain, you may want to take the recommendation with a grain of salt. For example, you’re a sales executive with solid people skills. However, you’ve received feedback to focus on being more organized. This feedback may be valuable in isolation, but not if it’s at the cost of being great at what your role requires. We’re all built differently. We cannot be the best at everything.
  • Take notes on paper. Close your laptop; it’s distracting for everyone and hides your face. When you do take notes, be mindful that you ask the person to pause if needed so you can adequately write your notes and get back to focusing on them.

 


 

Is it right for you and your team?

 

Perhaps.

Start, Stop, Continue is not an exercise for those faint of heart. Leaders, managers, and participants must be humble, hungry, and smart, as per Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Ideal Team Player.

  • Humble enough to leave their Ego at the door and take feedback with grace and gratitude.
  • Hungry enough to yearn for critical feedback, desires to improve, and wants to win.
  • Smart enough to navigate the potential awkwardness and discomfort.

More important than the question of “is this right for your team?” is the question: “Are you capable of successfully navigating the emotional messiness that may arise?” If so, the rewards are tremendous, bringing you and your team one step closer to a championship victory.

 


 

Resources

 
Recommended books and audiobooks:
 
 

Difficult Conversations
Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone, and Sheila Heen
 
The Culture Code
Daniel Coyle
 
Loving What Is
Byron Katie
 
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Patrick Lencioni
 
The Ideal Team Player
Patrick Lencioni
 

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