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CYC 009: A Spoonful of Feedback Sorbet Helps the Medicine Go Down

CYC 009: A Spoonful of Feedback Sorbet Helps the Medicine Go Down

In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap, the job’s a game
And every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake
A lark, a spree, it’s very clear to see

That a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!

The heart of this song from Disney’s Mary Poppins is simple: Some tasks must be completed, so make them easier to complete by adding humor, fun or a little spoonful of sugar.

Today, sugar is taking the form of sorbet. (Repeat after me with pinkies raised in solidarity.) Sorbet is a delightful fruited ice usually served before the main course to cleanse the palate.

Feedback is like a main course of a meal. Sorbet prepares you to receive the main course.

You need a project completed by Friday, but your team member is not getting the message that the priorities have switched and you want to scream.

Your co-founder responds to customer questions incredibly fast, but they don’t stop long enough to proofread and their hasty replies keep creating awkward situations.

You are a week away from beta-test of the new application and customers keep sending major enhancements that would set the project behind several months.

Every day you deal with people that you need to be headed in the right direction.

People that you rely on. That you have poured your trust, time, money into.

You may feel like screaming or throwing that new smartphone across the room, but that would not be wise. Not only would you have to explain to your significant other why you just cost them several hundred dollars on yet another phone, but giving feedback through anger or frustration can crush all of that trust and goodwill that you have built with the person you need to give feedback to.

You chose that employee or contractor for the skills and expertise they bring to your business. Do not shut them down with harsh feedback.

Your co-founder – your partner – is an ally that shares your passion and dedication to this dream. Do not alienate them with harsh feedback.

Your customer choose to work with you. You are building a positive work relationship. Do not lose them to a competitor because you cannot deliver feedback in a positive way.

You solve problems for a living. Help people solve problems by giving them constructive criticism delivered in a way that helps them to make positive change.

Give feedback as quickly as possible after the issue arises.

Give constructive feedback that helps the person to improve.

Give them information and guidance. Set them up to succeed.

And that means that you have to be in a calm, constructive mindset in order to deliver feedback that improves trust with the person.

The purpose of feedback should be to provide information and guidance to someone in order to enable them to grow, learn and improve.

How do you improve the chances that a person will hear your feedback, listen to your constructive criticism and move forward to make positive change?

Begin with sorbet – the sweet stuff that cleanses the palate – to get people ready to listen to your suggestions. Your feedback. Your criticism.

Feedback sorbet is a simple concept that you can apply immediately.

You will start to see people become more open to your feedback. Actively try to improve and heed your advice. The more you use it, the easier it becomes.

You will become an example to those around you on how to give advice.

Feedback Sorbet is simply giving three positives first before one suggested change. Three good, then one improvement.

It works.

Give three spoonfuls of sorbet – three positives – to prepare the person for one piece of feedback.


Instead of saying: Your document for people you will be interviewing is way too long. There is no way anyone would read through all of that.

Try: You put a great deal of thought into the content, and I can see you researched thoroughly. It shows you care to set your interviewees up for success. And I think it’s a fantastic idea to put the information on your website.

Consider splitting the one large document into 3 smaller documents to help people absorb the amount of information. That way people who have been interviewed often can refer straight to the details instead of reading the beginner information.


Now the first few times you do this 3- to-1 rule, you may feel like you are kissing up to someone. Like it’s not you.

So use words that sound like you.

Maybe instead you say: Dude, I can’t believe how much content you cranked out so quickly! I know people are going to love that you did all that research to save them time. Great idea to put it on your site when you’re ready.

Since some people will have been interviewed many times before, maybe separate the content into beginner, details, and tech specs so they can go straight to what they need.


Be authentic but be positive.

Try it next time you have some constructive criticism you need to deliver. Over time, you will be faster at finding and articulating the positive feedback to use in your Feedback Sorbet.

Be an example for people around you on how to give feedback.

The more often people see you use Feedback Sorbet, the more open people will be to hearing your feedback, because they will see by your continued use of Feedback Sorbet that you value them, you value their contributions, and you have confidence in their ability to grow, learn and succeed.

And when your people succeed, they help YOU succeed.


Time to Practice Feedback Sorbet:

No traditional workwork this week. This week I am in need of your feedback.

I am 10 episodes in and just starting to get the hang of this. I write, edit, produce, publish, blog as a one person machine. Such is the life of a dream chaser, right?

I am proud of the episodes I have created for you, but I continue to look for ways to improve. Ways to innovate. Engage you. Help you. Entertain you.

Give me constructive feedback, because I want to provide you help on the people issues in your business that are keeping you up at night.

Please tweet me @metsyc or email me at metsy [@] metsy.com to let me know what YOU want to talk about on the Create Your Culture podcast.

Here are a few examples to get you started.

  • Are you suffering from decision fatigue and need help figuring out who are the right people to get on the bus?
  • Are you happy with your team but are tired of dealing with personality conflicts and communication breakdowns?
  • Is everything great but you want some inspiration from other entrepreneurs and startups about how they are managing their teams and building an amazing company culture?
  • Would you be interested in hearing a segment from a seasoned HR professional on managing employee issues? A recruiter or sourcing professional on how to find those future magic team members.

I still want to keep Create Your Culture episodes under 30 minutes if I can, but I’m open to holding mini-interviews with other people – startup founders, entrepreneurs, small businesses – who like you are learning as you go, following your instincts, looking to get people on the bus to take on the tasks you don’t want to do or just shouldn’t be doing. People who are building positive, productive cultures.

Tell me how I can help you. How the Create Your Culture podcast can better help you.


Now for Julie Andrews singing the delightful Mary Poppins earworm song:

Disney’s Mary Poppins classic song: A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. I sang it in the shower this morning. Trust me, you want to hear Julie Andrews sing it.

Thank You For Listening!

Please subscribe, rate and review the Create Your Culture podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated. They do matter in the rankings of the show, and I read each and every one of them.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post.

Listen to this Episode

Play episode 009 of Create Your Culture below:

CYC 008: Do You Manage Your Team Like a Fight Club?

CYC 008: Do You Manage Your Team Like a Fight Club?

I have been head down, staring at the computer, working at home with a cat on my lap. I need to get out of the house more, so I will be recording the Create Your Culture podcast from a quiet corner in the Velvet Brick Café.

Every episode so far has wrapped up with a little kick in the pants as well as a mini-pep rally. I genuinely want to see you succeed, so I think you need to hear both. I know I hear both from my friends whether I am ready for it or not.

This episode is a bit more of a kick in the pants.

The first rule of Fight Club: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club: You do not talk about Fight Club.

I haven’t even see this movie, but the first two rules of Fight Club have become a part of pop culture.

I want to give you a new rule.

You cannot manage your team like a Fight Club.


I am continually surprised by business owners I have met who tell me they see the issues between members of their team and then say things like:

“They just need to figure it out.”

“They need to get over it.”

“I’ll just let them fight it out.”

“It’s not my responsibility to fix their communication breakdown.”

“I’m not here to babysit you two. Don’t involve me.”


If you say these type of statements to your team, I need you to reevaluate your role as manager.


Maybe you’re not a warm and fuzzy manager.


But do you want to be a successful manager?

Do you want to keep the people you have poured precious resources into?

Do you want to get the work done on time and done well?

Then don’t manage your team like a Fight Club.

So you do care about building your team as a community but you don’t like confrontation?


But do you want to have a team that works well together, shows respect and build trust?

Do you want to personally be respected as a capable manager?

Do you want to keep your people on the team or have to start over?

Do you want a team that is happy and getting the work done? Or do you want to just keep hoping that if you ignore it then everything will work itself out?

Even companies that manage fighters are not likely to manage their employees the way they manage their fighters.

I don’t have a structured one two three case to build today. Today I’m just talking to you.

Using competition as a management style. Leaving employees on their own to figure things out. Over-delegating and under-informing employees on what they need to do to succeed.

These are all things that can kill a corporate culture.

The chances are slim that you have a team where every member of the team is ok with a competitive, combative style.

The VERY employee who will not thrive in a competitive team that pits employees against each other is also the VERY employee who will not want to confront you about this poor management choice.

They will try to figure it out. They will try to get over it. And they will not be happy working in that environment.

You don’t care if they’re happy?

Fine, do you care that the team won’t be as productive?

If you don’t care whether your team members are put in jobs that use their skills for the good of the company AND the good of the employee… and you don’t want to get involved in day-to-day issues to help the team be more productive, then you shouldn’t be a manager.

Do you believe your situation is different?

Your business – with your team – with you at the helm. Those factors combine to create a one-of-a-kind team.

That’s true. Your situation is unique.

I don’t know the details of your workplace. I am talking to you from the safety of the Velvet Brick Café.

But the fact that your situation is unique proves my point.


You cannot use one size fits all management in a unique team.

You cannot move people to action all in the same way.

You cannot plug the right people into the right jobs without looking at them as individuals who are a part of the whole.

You cannot plan for the future without looking at the needs of your current team.


What’s the point of all this?

Whether you are growing an existing business. Or hiring your first employee. Or dreaming about hiring your first employee while you are at that bridge job.

You have a team. You work with people – for people – so you have a team.


You are not a bystander watching a match in a boxing ring. Waiting to see which one wins your little tests.

If that’s how you are managing your team, you need to get in the ring, break up the fight, build a team that works together and respects one another.


You are not sitting behind a one-way mirror observing your team interrogate each other.

If that’s how you are managing your team, get out of your private room of protection, join your team, help them fix problems and build trust.


You are not the leader of a town of Stepford wife type of employees.

If that’s how you are managing your team, you have either two things happening:

You have hired people who are like you, which means you will not have the diverse set of skills needed to run the complexities of business.

OR you THINK you have hired a bunch of copies of yourself and you don’t see that each person needs to be managed from who THEY are – not who you are.


Fight club teams can happen with well-meaning managers that do not want to deal with personality clashes or communication breakdowns, so they close their eyes, pretend not to hear the raised voices, the awkward silences, feel the tension in a room.

Fight club teams also happen with competitive, combative managers who like the thrill of seeing their employees battle for their appreciation or affection.

Fight club teams happen with managers who simply don’t know what they are doing but won’t admit it, so they put employees in what they call a “friendly competition” so the manager doesn’t have to deal with the fact that they don’t know how to get what they need from their employees.


Managing people is tough work.

If you set up the team to run well at the beginning, set expectations, give them the training and resources they need, motivate them based on what they care about, tie the company goals to their personal goals

… your company will be unstoppable.


Don’t wait. Start today to become a better manager.

Get the right people on the bus.

Keep the right people on the bus.

If you are continually improving, treating people with respect, building trust, removing manufactured drama, then your employees will have an example to follow.

If however you pit people against each other, create traps for employees to fall into, let manufactured chaos breed and fester, expect people to work their lives away just because hey they get a paycheck, then expect to see those behaviors in your team.


I can help you build a team or turn around a struggling team. That’s why I am so passionate about these issues. I’m here to help you. And I KNOW that you can see incredibly fast improvements with my skills and tools.

Just don’t ignore the issues.

Don’t leave your employees to fend for themselves.


Thank You For Listening!

Please subscribe, rate and review the Create Your Culture podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated. They do matter in the rankings of the show, and I read each and every one of them.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post.

Listen to this Episode

Play episode 008 of Create Your Culture below:


CYC 007: Seven Warning Signs an Employee Is On the Way Out

Bob: Looks like you’ve been missing quite a bit of work lately.
Peter Gibbons: Well, I wouldn’t say I’ve been MISSING it, Bob.

Office Space became a cult classic because of the absurdity we deal with in our real-life workplaces.

The movie shows an employee’s view of a corporate culture that sucks.

Clueless management that can’t see that employees are disengaged and miserable. That forgets to let Milton know he was laid off 5 years ago.

Ridiculous processes and TPS reports.

Redundant organizational structures with 8 managers who come by your desk every time you make a mistake.

And meaningless rewards.

Bill Lumbergh: Oh, and remember. Next Friday… is Hawaiian shirt day. So, you know, if you want to, go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans.

The important thing is…

You are not clueless.

You are not Bill Lumbergh. Or one of the two Bobs.

Build a great company, a great team, a great workplace.

Pay attention to what your employee’s actions are telling you.

Watch for these 7 warning signs that you have an employee on the way out.

Beginning to disengage. Totally checked out. Or ready to quit.

Address the issues. Give them training. Support. Resources.

Set your employees up to succeed if you want them to stay.


Let’s just talk about what you can observe with your eyes and ears – nothing complex or fancy – just watch and listen.

  1. Absenteeism: Employees come in late or not at all. Miss deadlines. Call in sick more often.
  2. No Vacations: The opposite of our first issue. Employees who feel unable to take vacation days or are unwilling to take time off. They could be headed for burnout. Or saving up their days to use after they give notice.
  3. Cannot Relax: Employees won’t use that shiny new breakroom. No one uses that ping pong table or arcade game. No one dares spend time using company perks because they feel they would get in trouble for taking a moment away from their desk.
  4. Hoarding Office Supplies: Employees do not feel like they will be given the tools they need, so they hoard them. They become possessive to the point of creating tension. A small act that could signal a bigger problem brewing.
  5. Refusing to Use Shared Drives: Employees who won’t post their files to the shared drive or team cloud drive. Another seemingly small issue that could indicate a larger issue. May be a training issue but could indicate trust issues among team members. Hoarding information. Deleting each other’s files. Taking credit for someone else’s work. Or they may also be getting their files in order to take with them when they leave.
  6. Always on Mute: In conference calls, the employee keeps the mute button on. This also happens in face-to-face meetings. They do not engage in conversation or give feedback. Are they disengaged or perhaps being invited to meetings that are wastes of time. Or have they been yelled at or confronted during previous attempts to give input and now they have shut down.
  7. Not Prepared for Meetings: Employees who no longer come to a meeting with a pen and paper – or an iPad or laptop if that is accepted in your workplace. They used to be prepared, but now they come empty-handed. Are they disengaged from the activity completely OR simply unclear about their roles and responsibilities. Disengaged = checked out = may be on the way out.

That brings us to today’s workwork.

Complete Your Workwork:

  1. For the next week, I want you observe your employees and take notes.
  2. What warning signs do you see?
  3. Are the issues isolated to a person, a group. Are they widespread?

You need to determine the extent of the issue, so you can begin to formulate a course correction.

Do not ignore these issues.

If you know about these issues and choose not to deal with them, then you are a part of the problem.

Your superstar employees will not stick around long-term in a team that ignores (and therefore rewards) problem employees.

You are not just the boss. You should be an ally to your team.

Remove roadblocks. Provide support. Be an example.

Extra credit: Your workplace is unique. Tell us what warning signs YOU see that signal potential problems with an employee?


I can’t wait to hear what you found out in the comments below.


Office Space — with the real Michael Bolton — from Funny Or Die

 Thank You For Listening!

Please subscribe, rate and review the Create Your Culture podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated. They do matter in the rankings of the show, and I read each and every one of them.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post.

Listen to this Episode

Play episode 007 of Create Your Culture below:


CYC 006: Three Wake-up Calls for Extroverts Managing Introverts

She stands on the stage in a gown created for a different time. A different life.

Glamorous. A symbol of purity and hope for the future.

Bright lights are shining in her eyes, reflecting off the jewels on her gown, as a microphone inches towards her. Invading her personal space.

A microphone held by a gregarious, overly happy man with purple hair.

Katniss Everdeen stands in her white wedding gown with a frozen expression on her beautifully made-up face.

Caesar Flickerman stands beside her playing his part of the vacuous show host dressed in a brightly colored costume.

When it’s Peeta Mellark’s turn to approach the microphone, he appears calm and more comfortable. He uses words and facial expressions to impart a message to the crowd of strangers.

He engages Caesar in this game to try to save Katniss, himself and perhaps the other victors as well.

In the Hunger Games: Catching Fire, we find many characters thrown into a world of war and famine – each trying to find their path.

Put aside who you believe to be good or evil in this epic tale and for a moment, think about HOW they interact.

How comfortable do they appear in public forums versus smaller, private interactions. How do they express themselves.

Caesar appears more extroverted than Peeta. Peeta appears more extroverted than Katniss.

What do YOU notice.

When you observe the behavior of a person whether fictional or on your team, begin to look for patterns. Observe to understand.

As an extrovert, you tend to observe anyway as you seek out human interaction, so use your skills – your superpowers – to find ways to bridge the communication gaps between more introverted and more extroverted people.

You have the power to improve the communication in your team.

And communication is an essential part of a happy, productive company culture.


  1. Three areas – wake-up calls – for managing employees who are more introverted than you are.
  2. Three action steps you can take right now to better manage introverted employees.

Complete Your Workwork:

  1. For the next week, write down how long you can sit in quiet alone before you feel the need to text a friend, grab dinner out, meet the fellas for a beer. Three hours? One hour? 30 minutes? 5 minutes?
  2. Write down how long it takes for your energy to come back once you escaped the silence and started interacting with someone.
  3. After the week of observation, look for patterns. Are you more or less extroverted than you expected?
  4. When you observe to understand the people on your team, you can ask yourself where they would be compared to the patterns you observed about yourself.

Extra credit: The next time you interact with someone more introverted than you are, I want you to keep track of the percent of time you spent talking. You may be surprised. What if you spend 60% or even 90% of the conversation talking? Giving someone a millisecond of silence and expecting them to fight to be a part of the conversation is a bit ridiculous – regardless of the other person’s communication style. Try leaving longer pauses to give the other person a chance to be a part of your conversation.

I’m being hard on you, but I know you can take it.

Be better. Use your skills of gab for good.

I can’t wait to hear what you found out in the comments below.


Caesar interviews Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

PS – Have you listened to the sister episode called Three Wake-up Calls for Introverts Managing Extroverts?

Thank You For Listening!

Please subscribe, rate and review the Create Your Culture podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated. They do matter in the rankings of the show, and I read each and every one of them.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post.

Listen to this Episode

Play episode 006 of Create Your Culture below: