Has false-kindness become the norm at your company? Does your management team sugar-coat every topic to avoid hurting anyone's feelings? Has "jack-assery" become the norm in your business? Learn how to be candid and how to tell the truth even when it hurts to achieve big results faster during this powerful training.Sign Up to Watch
university of phoenix for small buisness management
-What's up, guys? My name is Daniel McKenna. I'm the executive producer and pirate captain of the ship here at Thrive15. Today, we have Clay Clark sitting down with Hall of Famer David Robinson. David Robinson is going to be talking to us aboutsmall business management and why candor must be a constant. So first of all, let me be candid. That shirt looks great on you. You look beautiful. Secondly, David is going to be talking to us about why, if you are in management, why candor has to happen, why it has to be there, and how it's going to affect your team and your team's performance.
Here at Thrive15, we believe that knowledge without application is meaningless. Unless you actually learn something today and then take what you learned and apply it to your life or your business, today's lesson is going to be more meaningless than me trying to not tell you how beautiful that shirt makes you look. Seriously, with your eyes and everything, just--
-David. Thank you for joining me, my friend.
-Clay, thank you. My pleasure.
-Hey, there are millions of people watching this throughout the world who are running businesses, they're starting companies, and they have no idea how to be candid. As an example, when I ran my first business, I know that whenever I had a staff problem, I would tend to speak in vast generalities. I would never want to talk to someone one on one and to tell them specific issue I had. I liked to dance around the issue. I never wanted-- because I always was worried about offending people. And it was just-- I could imagine working for me had to be very frustrating, because you had no idea what I actually thought about you, because I would kind of give you that false kindness stuff.
And so this whole concept of being candid is not something that most people are very familiar with, yet it is something that all business owners need to be familiar with. In your mind, what does it mean to be candid or to be direct with somebody?
Well, I think to be candid is to at least let them know where they stand. Being honest and forthright in your criticism, both positive and negative. One of the great things for me is, being from the sports arena, I got the candor all the time. Whether I liked it or not. I'd go out to another arena and the fans from the other team would tell me everything they thought about me. So candor was something I had no shortage of.
But I think it's good, because I think we need to hear both the good and the bad. And that's what's important. When you're being candid with someone, whether it's someone you love or someone on your job, you've got to share both the good and the bad. I think that makes it more acceptable. It makes it more human. If you're just sharing the bad, you will have problems.
-In your mind, in business-- because you own businesses now. Since retiring, you went out and started a school. And let's just say that you hired somebody, and somebody's in a position of leadership. And for whatever reason, they're just not delivering. They're supposed to get this done, and they just didn't get it done. How do you deliver candid feedback? Like specifically, what do you do? Is your move to pull somebody aside and talk to them privately? Or what do you do whenever you have to give somebody that direct feedback that might not necessarily always be positive?
-Well, I can't do that periodically. If we have a evaluations every six months, I can't wait till six months and then tell them, oh, I've been nice to you every day, but I failed to tell you that I'm really disappointed with this part of your performance. I think on a day to day basis, they have to know. You need to give them instant feedback. Like you have a pet, you'd better tell that pet right at the time he's peeing on your rug that you should not be peeing on my rug, or else later on he's not going to remember that was the bad thing he was doing.
And I think we need to be really diligent about being immediate in our feedback when we were sharing with them, so that when it comes time for evaluation we can say, you did a really good job except for the times you peed on the rug. I was a little bit disappointed with that. And that actually may be enough for termination. Then you have actual reasons to cite. You have things that you can point to. It's very difficult if you've not told anybody about their shortcomings and then you come to evaluation time and you have to write something negative about someone.
And it comes as a complete surprise to them that you did not like that.
-Why do most business owners not tend to give people feedback immediately? Why is the natural inclination to not say anything at all until we get to the evaluation? Why is what you're saying so different than what we would naturally all want to do?
-I think part of the reason is that the expectations around the workplace are not clear. And sometimes if they're not particularly clear, you don't feel entirely comfortable stepping in. But we should be very clear about our culture. We should know. Around my house, my children have a very clear picture of what I expect of them. And when we step outside of those boundaries, it should not be hard for me to say, well, sweetheart, you really kind of shouldn't talk to your mom that way because-- No. You know you're not supposed to talk to your mom that way.
That has been made clear to you. So if you ever raise your voice to mother like that again, we will have a problem. So I can make my point and I can drive that point home in a short period of time because that understanding is there. And I think in the workplace, we need to have those understandings. That's part of culture. When the culture is in place, then we can easily
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-Now I want to bring up a specific example or a specific question because Coach Popovich has been one of the most successful coaches in the NBA for a long time.
-You guys had a mutual respect.
-It seems like you guys had an affection-- you still have a relationship with him-- but it also would seem to be likely that there's sometimes-- in the of the battle or the competition-- where maybe you made a mistake. Maybe we forgot to run the right play, or maybe there was a miscommunication.
-Happened once or twice.
-How would he deliver that feedback to you towards the end of your career there, as you were a peer? I Because a lot of businesses, what happens is-- we have a guy who we've worked with for years and we respect that guy, we don't want to hurt his feelings, but how did Coach Popovich give you direct and candid feedback? How did that happen?
-Coach Popovich would turn around to the bench and say, Malik, go get David out of there. And that would be my feedback.
-No, really, he was very, very cool and calm in the way that he delivered that correction and that feedback. He was very careful not to embarrass me, but as soon as I got back to the bench, one of the assistant coaches would come over and tell me exactly what I did wrong. And then the next day in the film session, we would rewind the film and watch that over again. So I had plenty of positive feedback about what I did wrong, and like I said, the expectation level was set.
It was clear what I was supposed to be doing. I knew when I was stepping out of bounds, when I did not cover the guy, I did not rotate to the baseline, I did not put my hand up on that shot. All those were very clear to me.
So I think if you can be clear ahead of time about what the expectations are, then it is not quite so difficult to give that negative feedback.
-So it sounds like-- if I'm trying to distill this and really put in some good, for the next time I have to be candid, some good rules here-- is one, that you want to give that immediate feedback.
-Two, you want to do it respectfully. He's very respectful of you, but the third is you want to be clear about those expectations.
-That is it. You have to lay the groundwork, and I think those three things will allow you to-- at any time or any place-- give good constructive feedback, and that can either lead to promotion or that could lead to letting someone go. But at least they knew it was coming, because the feedback was there.
-Now I imagine-- and correct me if I'm wrong-- but this is just how I imagine the NBA season working for you. You were in the league for 14 years, so every year you get a few new guys. You always draft a new guy, there's always a new guy. And there's maybe a free agent or two you bring in, and that free agent's going to bring a little bit of his own culture with him. Because he might have been the man, or he used to be, or one of the top players.
And then you come into your locker room and you have your own culture there in San Antonio. And because you're the leader, I would imagine that occasionally you had to point out to somebody, hey, this is not how we're going to do things here with the Spurs. We're going to do it the right way, and when I say right, this is what I mean.
-Our way. By right, I mean our.
-Our, OK. So I guess what I'm saying, how would you deliver candid feedback during those situations to new players that were coming onto the team? And maybe not even intentionally, but maybe they were violating some rule or maybe they didn't understand the expectations. How did you provide that feedback as a player during those times?
-Well, I think we'd bring them into the group. We would try to read their personality, because some people are more combative, confrontive, and some people are more laid back. You try to read the person, you try to understand, what's the best way? I did not like people getting in my face, I've never been a fan of the direct yelling method.
-OK, direct yelling method.
-The cursing method, that was not my favorite. So the best way to get to me was to sit me down and say, David, I don't think you're doing this the right way. This is how I'd like for you to do it. Great, I can understand that. Let's move forward, I'll do it.
Some people do actually like being confronted, being told at the moment, and they need a little kick in the pants. I think you need to be sensitive to what type of people you have around you, and try to deliver the information in a way that can be absorbed.
-Are you OK-- on the record-- of not being a fan of the cursing method?
-I'm OK with being on the record on that one.
-OK, all right. Now when you launched Carver Academy, you put a lot of money into it, and a lot of time. I think more importantly though, you put your heart and soul, your passion. You felt like that's what God had called you to do, was to launch this school. And so when somebody's hurting the school or doing things that might hurt the school's reputation, or maybe not do things the way you think they should be done, I could imagine where you could get-- if you're not careful-- emotional about it. You're going, what are you doing? I'm not saying that you said that, but I'm saying I could see where you would start to say, what are you doing?
How did you take the emotion, or how did you manage the emotion, during those times? When you're launching this school that you care so much about-- a lot of these small business owners have a business that they care so much about-- and then somebody messes it up, how did you--
-Well, I try to separate the emotion from personal to professional. I want to accomplish the goal. If we're helping these children, that's what I want to accomplish. I don't think I'm right all the time. So you have to balance your concern and your attitude, your emotion, with is this the right thing? There were many times I was not correct, and I had to listen and change my opinion... Small Business Management.
So I think you just need to separate your emotion. Is it personal? Are you lashing out because someone is taking away your authority or taking away your baby? Or are you concerned about the company, the organization, the direction? Are you concerned that this is a negative to the organization? And if you can separate those two things, I think you would deal with those entirely differently.
Small Business Management with Clay Clark
-The final question about being candid is-- a lot of times in companies-- we start to think we're awesome. Our company, we're starting to sell some stuff, and in your case, maybe you're winning some academic awards or maybe your school's taken off. Maybe you get a write-up in a big publication, and so you're starting to feel like we are awesome, we are awesome. Maybe you just won a championship, we are awesome.
But yet, the key to staying awesome is getting that candid feedback where you know how you could improve all the time. What sort of systems did you put in at Carver so that way everybody knew how you were doing? And so if I'm a staffer, if I'm a teacher, if I'm an administrator, what sort of system did you put in place so that-- as an administrator or a staffer or as an employee-- I got that candid feedback on a consistent basis?
-Right. The common term today is drinking the Kool-Aid. You start drinking the Kool-Aid and you're like, oh yeah, we're all so great, but you do need those periodic checks. And for us, we had a wonderful system of evaluations with our teachers. We had evaluations every six weeks in how they were performing in the classroom.
-Every six weeks?
-Every six weeks, how they perform in the classroom, and then we had what we called curriculum-based assessments. And how the students did in relation to the standards-- the state standards, national standards-- was a measure-- a direct measure-- of how the teachers performed in the classroom.
So we had a good system of feedback as well as evaluations for each position. So I think that that's key. You need to be able to let people know and have those periodic assessments, which give positive or negative feedback and allows people to adjust.
-With your equity fund-- where you guys actually own buildings-- do you try to collect feedback from tenants, or some sort of feedback where you know how happy your tenants are and how well the property's being managed? Do you try to put in some systems there, too?
-Not necessarily. For us, our clients are the people that invest in our business.
-So we want feedback from them. We need to get the returns that we promise, and so they really are our main clients. We have a kind of a different measure in that business, and so, I think for us, that's very important. How are we doing?
And I think in the financial world, it tends to be relatively simple. The Texas Teachers Association is not interested in anything but that bottom line. We love you, we think you're great, but how are you doing for our teachers?
The Fireman's Association, or the Police Association, or the Pension Fund, we tend to work with people who are interested in performance, and so that's kind of our large measure.
OK, but in all things, in all areas of your business, it's really important that we're not giving that false kindness. We're giving that-- when somebody hears you say something positive, they need to know that it's real. And when they hear something, some constructive criticism, they need to know it's real because people need to know where they stand.
-Right, and that's why it's nice, I think, in an office, when you're able to have some kind of evaluations and you see, what does this person think of me? Or what does this person think of me? And you get some different directional input. I think it's really critical because we do tend to see ourselves in one way, and a lot of times, that's not the way we're perceived.
-Final point on candor. Thrive's all about being a successful person in business and at home. And I know, for me as a husband, I'm always trying to get that candid feedback from my glorious wife because she always points out about two to three things per day that I might be having area for improvement on.
-That's a good wife.
-Yeah, and I think it's important to know that, and personally we seek out feedback for how to be better. And we need to make sure we're getting candid feedback in all areas.
-Right. It's tough to get candid feedback, because we don't like it. We don't like to know when we're not excelling and we're not excellent. We like to think we are, and candid feedback is an outstanding gift. I think if we have the right mindset, it can be the difference between being everything you wanted to be and falling miserably on your face.
So it's something we need to appreciate, we need to teach our employees to appreciate, and use it for our building up, and not let it destroy us.
-Dave, I appreciate your candid feedback about being candid. It's great to hear direct feedback where you're telling people specifically some of these things, because I feel like-- we're watching the NBA games, and we watch people win awards, and have success, and win championships, and grow businesses-- but at the heart of that, there's always that candid feedback that helps us all get better. So thank you so much for sharing... Small Business Management.
-Absolutely. Well thank you very much.
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