Troy Blaser (00:05):
Hello, welcome to Simply Feedback, the podcast brought to you by LearningBridge. I'm your host, Troy Blaser. It's good to be with everybody today. Our guest today, I'm excited to introduce her. Our guest is Deanne Kissinger. And let me just give you a little bit of background. Deanne is a leader who architects, builds, and executes talent strategies that drive business results. Currently, Deanne leads HR strategy for the materials global business unit at Solvay. Solvay is an international chemical company founded in 1863 with headquarters in Brussels Belgium. Deanne started her career in the commercial side of the business in sales and sales management for a pharmaceutical company. She now has over 20 years of international experience in various aspects of HR, talent management, and leadership development in industries, including pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, property manufacturing, finance, energy, and utilities. She has worked in the United States, the United Kingdom, and in Australia. Deanne earned a Bachelor's of Science degree in Marketing Management from Grove City College in Pennsylvania, and a Master's in Business Administration from the Melbourne Business School in Melbourne Australia. Deanne, welcome to Simply Feedback, it's so good to have you with us today.
Deanne Kissinger (01:25):
Thank you, Troy. It's really good to be here.
Troy Blaser (01:27):
I'm looking forward to our conversation just in, even in reading through that bio, and some of your background, it sounds like you have had some interesting experiences and I'm excited to, to get to know you better and hear some of what you have to share with us today. So maybe, just to kind of get things started here on the Simply Feedback Podcast, I wonder if you could tell us about a time that somebody gave you feedback and maybe it was feedback that impacted your life, your career, a turning point. Can you share a story with us?
Deanne Kissinger (01:58):
Sure. And you know, I've asked for a lot of feedback over the years and there was one
Troy Blaser (02:03):
That's brave of you.
Deanne Kissinger (02:05):
Yes. Yes, but you'll understand why, when I tell you this story. So, there was one that stuck out above all the other feedback sessions that I'd had, and it actually happened 20 years ago in May this year. So you can imagine how impactful it was for me to still remember it. I'd gone into a performance review with my manager and he provided me with some feedback and I was completely shocked. Gobsmacked. Had no idea, couldn't comprehend what he was telling me. And I won't go into the feedback itself because it's not really the feedback that caused as much impact as the fact that it had shocked me. And that I had no idea. And so that's not right in my opinion, someone should never go into a performance review and not have an idea of how it's going to go. So I knew right then and there that I was not going to let that happen to myself or to any of my team if I ever, you know, managed. And I think that actually put me on a trajectory towards learning and leadership development. I've always been really passionate about that, but I think it totally solidified it for me and it shaped my career from that moment on.
Troy Blaser (03:16):
Interesting. So it was this idea that, you know, you had no idea that feedback was coming. And you're like, maybe not consciously at the time, but in your career, you're like, you're dedicated now to stopping that from having to happen to somebody else.
Deanne Kissinger (03:30):
Exactly, exactly. It was a terrible experience to not know that and to be so shocked by it. And so I do whatever I can to make sure that doesn't happen for other people.
Troy Blaser (03:39):
That's fantastic. When, I guess when you describe it that way, it almost makes you sound like some kind of a superhero where you had this incredibly intense experience and you know, you're now dedicated to, you're a secret HR superhero.
Deanne Kissinger (03:52):
Oh, that's nice of you to say that. I don't think so, but, still working on it, still working on it.
Troy Blaser (03:57):
Absolutely. As I was kind of preparing for our conversation today, I understand you're part of the Marshall Goldsmith 100
, is that right?
Deanne Kissinger (04:06):
100 coaches. Yes.
Troy Blaser (04:08):
Tell us a little bit about, yeah. About what that is and maybe kind of your experience in being part of that.
Deanne Kissinger (04:15):
Yeah. So I had followed Marshall's work for quite some time, and I always thought what he said made sense to me. It wasn't too complicated, but it's not always easy to do. And so he started this, 100 coaches, at first it was called the MG 100 and it's kind of shifted now to 100 coaches. His initial offer was to teach 15 people everything he knew and when they got older or later on, they should pay it forward by doing something similar. And so that idea really resonated with me because A) I appreciated his work and B) because I have a passion for learning and development. So when I thought about here's an opportunity to learn directly from him and then share what I've learned with others felt like a really good fit. So I applied, he had put this, you know, video on LinkedIn and I applied and I never thought I would be selected for the program, but I was. And the unexpected, you know, outcomes of that is having this network of incredibly accomplished, intelligent, generous, and fun people that I can call colleagues and friends. And I really do think that I am becoming a better leader as being a part of the a hundred coaches group. So it's been great. Really great.
Troy Blaser (05:34):
That's really cool. Is it United States based? Is it worldwide?
Deanne Kissinger (05:38):
It's worldwide. It's all over. We have people from all over the world in the group and mostly in the US, but there are people in London. I know there's people in India, it's all across the world.
Troy Blaser (05:51):
And have you started sharing that information with others as part of the second half of that proposal from him?
Deanne Kissinger (05:59):
Yeah, definitely. He had posed it as, you know, when you get old, you can pay it forward and do the same thing. I don't think I'm old. Not yet anyway.
Troy Blaser (06:06):
Right, for sure.
Deanne Kissinger (06:07):
But definitely wanted to share that with people. And certainly when I went back into the company after those sessions and continuing as I do now, as I share what I've learned as a being part of the group, we meet weekly on Monday. We have sessions that are really about our own personal development and how we can share that with other people. So I share that with the leaders within my organization and any time I'm asked about it I'm happy to share.
Troy Blaser (06:32):
That's really cool. So it sounds like Marshall Goldsmith has been somebody that influences you, or has influenced you in your career, in how you think about things. Are there other people in your life, in your career that have had an influence?
Deanne Kissinger (06:47):
Yeah, definitely. I mean, there's a lot of people who have influenced me, Marshall of course being one of them. But, Brene Brown, Simon Sinek, Ferdinand Fournies. Stephen Covey, a lot of people in the hundred coaches have influenced me, Scott Osman, Bill Carrier, Mark Thompson, Tricia Gorton, Laine Cohen, Liz Wiseman, Whitney Johnson. I mean the list, you know, goes on and on. And I think the way that they influenced me the most was to, like Brene, be vulnerable, to have courage, to have confidence, to continuously improve, and to show up, you know, the group is, the a hundred coaches group is a very, impactful group and they're very accomplished. People have written many books and done a lot of great things. My career's been more in corporate and a little different, so it's sometimes really easy to get intimidated by that, but it's such a welcoming and accepting group that it helps people to really, I think, come into your own and to have that confidence that you have something to bring to the table as well. So it's been really impactful.
Troy Blaser (07:52):
It sounds like a great opportunity. You know, you mentioned you spent your career in corporate, and so to have this chance to have these kinds of colleagues outside of your own specific company, really probably widens your perspective quite a bit, a chance for you to go outside the company and then come back in and say, Hey, let's try this. Or I was talking to some other colleagues, let's try something different here, inside the company.
Deanne Kissinger (08:17):
That's exactly it. And I think that's a good thing for people to do, anyway, if they're not part of a group like that, there's other networks you could be a part of or learning experiences that you can have that will enable you to just look outside of your own box. And anytime that you do that, I think it's good for you to do that.
Troy Blaser (08:33):
Yeah, that's really cool. Well, some of those names are familiar to me, others are not, I may have to go and do some of my own learning, my own research, but it sounds like a great opportunity to be part of that kind of a network. I wanted to ask you a little bit about 360-degree surveys, multi-rater surveys, here at LearningBridge. That's one of our forte's one of our core strengths is sort of incorporating a 360-degree survey and producing a feedback report that is useful and valuable to the person that's receiving it. And I think you've had some experience with 360s in your career is that right?
Deanne Kissinger (09:07):
Yep. That's right.
Troy Blaser (09:09):
We know, you know, in a 360-degree survey, you're getting, you're doing kind of your own self-assessment. But then getting feedback from your manager, from peers, from direct reports, and potentially others, you know, stakeholders or customers or whatever it might be. Is there, as you've worked with the results from 360 feedback, as you've coached others on their 360 feedback, is there a particular rater category that seems to have the greatest impact on that person receiving feedback?
Deanne Kissinger (09:39):
Okay. So this may be a cop out answer, but I'm going to say it depends. And the reason why I say it depends is because it, to me depends on whether the person has been receiving feedback outside of the 360. So is the 360, the only way that they're getting feedback from someone and the person that they aren't getting feedback from, whether it's their manager, their stakeholders, their direct reports, that's probably the one that's going to end up making the biggest impact because they've not heard it before. And so if they do have solid relationships with the people in the 360, I think the one then they need to make pay the most attention to is their self-rating and how it relates to others. So someone can have a very high opinion of themselves or very low opinion of themselves compared to their stakeholders. And that's really worth exploring then. So do they need to build up their confidence or, you know, come down from the clouds a little bit, either way, it's a dose of reality. So I think that that self-assessment, if they are getting feedback from others around them will be the biggest one to pay attention to.
Troy Blaser (10:42):
I love it. Deanne, that's not a cop out answer that's a well thought out and nuanced answer. Right.
Deanne Kissinger (10:49):
Thanks! Thank you.
Troy Blaser (10:50):
But it does, it makes a lot of sense, because you do see, I think in organizations, sometimes there isn't feedback happening and the 360 is sort of this formalized thing that causes the feedback to happen in the first place. You know, I didn't give you feedback before, because you never asked for it or there was never a mechanism to allow it to happen. And once I, you know, I got that email and I logged into the website. Now there's a channel there to give that feedback.
Deanne Kissinger (11:18):
Right, right. And it's more anonymous too. Yeah.
Troy Blaser (11:21):
Yes, exactly. So I really liked that as a way to think about what should I pay attention to when I get this feedback report? Well, it depends on what other feedback I've already been getting. That's a great way to think of it. As you've worked across different organizations in your career, what are some of the difficulties that you see with feedback specifically? I mean, you talked about and even in that performance review 20 years ago, clearly there was a problem for you to get feedback prior to that performance review, what are some of the biggest difficulties that you see?
Deanne Kissinger (11:56):
Yeah, I think it's that people don't give it. They really, they don't truly give it, you know, they potentially say some feedback that isn't really getting to the crux of the issue and it's not easy. It can feel awkward. What if there's retribution? What if they don't like me, what if I say the wrong thing or it's taken the wrong way? What if they don't do anything as a result? What if I'm wrong? And providing the feedback sometimes is the biggest challenge that people face and if they know how to provide it and they know how to take it too, then I think we'd make improvements a lot quicker and people would actually be happier. As Brene Brown says, you know, clear is kind. And taking it means that you're open to the feedback. You're not defensive. You see it as a data point, you know, someone's observation, and you can choose to do with it what you want, but listen, you know, they're providing you with additional insight and whether you agree with it or not, you take it. So I think we need to just get better at really getting to the crux of what the feedback is and to provide that feedback in a way that people can openly receive it and receive it with way it's intended.
Troy Blaser (13:04):
So I think you've really hit it right on the head. There's difficulties in giving it, there's difficulties in receiving that feedback too. Are there things that you do in your current job to help provide your employees with feedback?
Deanne Kissinger (13:20):
Yeah, so I think the, well, for the company, what we've done is provide the managers and the employees with guides. That's helped them to get into the right frame of mind when they're going to be getting feedback. And we're trying to shift more and more, it's hard to break those old habits of feedback happens, you know, twice a year or once a year. You know, we're trying to make sure that it's coming in a more continual basis. So we provide guides for the employees to be able to be open to the feedback for managers, to have a format, to give that feedback. And we hope that it will, we'll use these check-ins is what we call them to happen on a more frequent basis. So we're trying to provide employees with the tools that they need both to give and to receive feedback. We've also got our systems, our HR systems that all need them to do that in a system as well, if they'd like to do it that way.
Troy Blaser (14:09):
Is that mostly just facilitating feedback between managers and their direct reports?
Deanne Kissinger (14:15):
It's a good question. You can do it, yeah. You can do it across as well. You can request feedback across, so, you know, peer feedback and stakeholder feedback, yeah, across the board. So that it's really, we're still getting there. You know, we take a little time to get to have people feel comfortable doing that, but it is coming along. So it's good.
Troy Blaser (14:34):
You talked about that for the company, is that this same thing you do for your own employees, you know, that are working in your part of the organization?
Deanne Kissinger (14:41):
Yeah. For mine, the way I kind of approach that is that I almost always, it feels like any conversation that I have with one of my team members is a way of being able to provide feedback. So I'm always finding something that I can appreciate about what they're doing. And I make sure that I give that to them right away. So particularly when people are working remotely, maybe they just gave a presentation and everybody's virtual. And if you don't have time carved out afterwards to provide feedback right away, it's my practice to send a quick chat right after and give them some feedback. And the reason why I do that, Oprah Winfrey one time said that no matter who she interviewed, whether it was former presidents, rock stars, world leaders, thought leaders, nearly everyone asked her when the interview was over, was that okay?
Deanne Kissinger (15:29):
So I figure people want to know, was that okay? And so they're just kind of sitting there in this void, in their house by themselves, you know, not knowing whether that was okay or not. And so I want to make sure that I do give them that feedback and send them a quick chat and let them know what they did well, and what hasn't worked well is I don't think providing constructive feedback works well on chat and that can just be easily misconstrued or misunderstood. So I don't do that, but I try to give the feedback right away, right after it happens.
Troy Blaser (16:00):
I love that idea of, I mean, it's positive reinforcement. It is, you're on the right track. You're doing a good job. And like you said, that helps eliminate people sitting in that void of I'm doing my best, but I don't know if it's the right thing or what's expected or what's needed, or, I really like that.
Deanne Kissinger (16:18):
Yeah. And it's even more poignant, I think, in the virtual environment, because, you know, if you were physically there with someone and it's starting to come back now, but when you're physically there with them, you can see in their body language, they're smiling, they're nodding. They can give you that type of confirmation as it's happening. And you can get some of that virtually, but you can't then pull each other aside and have that conversation right away afterwards as easily, you know, when it's virtual. So I try to make sure that people understand that they did a good job right away, and so that they can feel that.
Troy Blaser (16:49):
And any other tips, I mean, we talked earlier, you know, one of the biggest challenges in an organization is just overcoming that obstacle of actually giving the feedback, providing that feedback. For people who are listening, any other tips to help them get over that hurdle of giving the feedback.
Deanne Kissinger (17:08):
I have used myself whenever I have felt like it was going to be a difficult conversation or potentially it was some, you know, really meaty feedback that I needed to give was to remind myself of that clear is kind. And to be able to give someone the opportunity to improve by providing that feedback is really, I know they say that it's a gift and I think that's overused, but you are helping somebody. And I try to really frame it in that way and come from a place of I'm trying to provide a mirror or an observation or something that I've noticed that they can become aware of if they weren't aware of it already, because if they weren't aware of it, then they don't have an opportunity to change it. And that to me is kind of not fair. You know, if, and I want somebody to tell me if there's something that I could do differently to change, and if they don't tell me, then I'm not being given the opportunity to make that change.
Deanne Kissinger (18:04):
So for me, it's really important to change the mindset around it and not think of about it I'm going to do this to someone, is that I'm going to help them. I'm going to support them. I'm going to provide a mirror or a lens that enables them to potentially see things in a different way, or, you know, improve their behavior in some way, or continue to reinforce a behavior that they're doing now, which people like to hear that too. So that's the way I approach it in my mind. And it usually helps me to kind of get over that it's still not easy, but it helps me to approach it in a much more positive way.
Troy Blaser (18:37):
I have a colleague who has worked with several companies in their succession planning and talent assessment and things like that. And he's been able to do it with the same company for several years. And often he'll be sitting with a group of managers who are talking about their talent pool and who's developing and who's not. And who's maybe in line for this position or that position and somebody's name will come up and that person might be discounted because of some particular, you know, style of management, or something about them that, where, you know, these folks that are planning say, well, that person's not qualified because of this or that. And my colleague will say, I've heard this about the same person for a couple years in a row now. And so he brought to these managers, does the person know about this? Has anybody told him, right, that this is holding him back in his career because, and maybe it's just because he doesn't know. And so that, again, points to that importance of holding up that mirror and saying, you know, here's how I'm perceiving your behavior and some feedback on that.
Deanne Kissinger (19:44):
Right, right. I think it's fair to them. Yeah.
Troy Blaser (19:47):
Yeah. Now I know you've lived in several countries during your career. In the United States, in Europe, in Australia. First of all, did you have a favorite?
Deanne Kissinger (19:58):
Oh my gosh. I don't have kids, but I do have two cats. That's like trying to pick your favorite cat. So I don't.
Troy Blaser (20:05):
I know, I know, fair enough.
Deanne Kissinger (20:06):
They're all, yeah. I feel very, very fortunate to have been able to live in the countries that I've lived in. They're all. Yeah. They all have really, really great things about them. Yeah.
Troy Blaser (20:15):
Maybe a better question. Thinking of those different countries. Did your approach change based on the different locations, the different cultures that you encountered, or was it the, kind of the same throughout?
Deanne Kissinger (20:27):
It did change. It did change and it did not change in the way that, you know, I believe that it's quick and specific. I think having that as a kind of mantra in terms of giving feedback, that didn't change, but the words that I would use or how I might phrase it might be a little bit different, or even the environment with which you provide the feedback might be a little bit different based on the culture and more so than I think the culture, it comes down to knowing the person too. I've had people on my team who don't like gushy praise in front of the rest of the team. You know, you think, oh, positive feedback, give it in public. But some people don't like that. And others who've been really motivated by that. So in some cultures you can be more direct and, you know, not kind of flower it. Supposedly in the U.S. we give the sandwich, I won't say the word, the sandwich that we give, you know, good feedback, bad feedback, good feedback, and try to make it like that, other countries don't really do that as well.
Deanne Kissinger (21:25):
They skip right to the middle of the sandwich. So it really just depends. So it does change based on the culture that you're in and also the people that you're giving that feedback to.
Troy Blaser (21:36):
What a fantastic opportunity to work in those different environments and really stretch and grow yourself, but be aware of the differences in the different cultures. That's a really cool opportunity that sounds like you've had.
Deanne Kissinger (21:48):
Yeah, it's been great. It's been really, really good.
Troy Blaser (21:51):
I know that over the years, you've been able to coach a lot of people, you know, in their own careers. And so, you know, we talked earlier in the conversation about a time when you received feedback, but maybe switching the perspective just a little bit. Can you maybe share with us a time when you were, as a coach or as a manager, giving feedback to someone or facilitating the feedback, for someone that maybe was a point of inflection in their career.
Deanne Kissinger (22:18):
A point of inflection in their career? I think I remember giving feedback to someone who was reporting to me before, who was kind of struggling at the time to make an impact on the role. And the reason why they were is because it was one of those roles that is very matrixed, a lot of networking that needed to take place. You needed to know the rest of the organization pretty well and understand, you know, it was in a center of excellence and learning and development center of excellence and had to really be a stakeholder manager and the person didn't feel like they were being effective in the role. And I felt like they could be a lot more effective in the role and the reason why they weren't being effective, very accomplished employee and very high potential really, but they sometimes didn't see what they could do next.
Deanne Kissinger (23:03):
What was the next thing that they could do to help move a project along? And a lot of times it might just be reaching out to someone and having a quick email chat or to remind them about the project or something along those lines. And the feedback that I gave to them was to when they feel that when they feel that sense of not being accomplished or not finishing something or getting something started the way they'd like to is to think about what is the next one thing that I can do today to move that project along.
Deanne Kissinger (23:32):
And it's kind of just, ask them to think about it that way and see if that was going to help them to move forward. And it did. And this was probably, well, I want to say 10, 10 years ago, maybe now, ish, and had the opportunity to talk with that person the other day. And they said, you know, I remember what you told me is to think about the next best thing that I can do for the, to move this project forward. So it was giving the feedback to say, Hey, things, aren't moving along as quickly as they could, you know, what's going on there? Why is it happening like that? And then to provide that as an option to do something different and it turned out pretty well. So I don't know that I would say that that totally impacted their entire career, but I do think that that helped make them more productive and something that stuck with them that they used in later positions as well.
Troy Blaser (24:18):
Well, and it, I liked how it was, like you say, it's not profound necessarily, but it was concise enough that it stuck with them. So they would come back to that. What's the one thing I can do today, you know, and then a month from now that same phrase is still going through their minds. I can think of teachers and mentors that have shared advice with me, and in that one sentence, and it's something that sticks with you forever, you know, through the rest of your life. And so that's really, you probably didn't think so at the time, but that has had a profound effect on that person over the course of these 10 years, since you maybe gave that feedback.
Deanne Kissinger (24:53):
Troy Blaser (24:54):
So, given your experience in your field, given part of this, you know, the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches deal, is there something that you've learned that you would share with our listeners, something in, you know, with others in the HR or talent development? What is something that you've learned that you want to share with them?
Deanne Kissinger (25:15):
Yeah, so in HR and in talent development, we are support functions. Like you said, I started off in sales and in the commercial side of the business. And so it was interesting to shift from being the, value makers to the people who support the value makers. But our job is to make sure that the organization is creating value. And to do that, you've got to put on your own oxygen mask first, right? And I'm not great at it, but I'm always learning how to create boundaries around it. You cannot bring your best self to work if you don't work on being your best self. And so that means carving time out for your own development, whatever that looks like, reading mentors, webinars, podcasts, Ted talks, networks, you know, whatever it is, whatever format that helps you to learn, but learn about the business and understand your customer's challenges, because the customer is the business, and if you aren't paying attention to that, you know, how can you really help the organization create value? So that's kind of what I've learned from being in sales, being in HR, recognizing the fact that you just need to make sure that you are putting your own oxygen mask on first and learning what you need to learn to become effective.
Troy Blaser (26:27):
I love it. That's another one of those short, concise pieces of advice. Put your own oxygen mask on first, right? That can stick with people and help us, help all of us remember, like you say, you know, you're not perfect at it, I'm not perfect at it either. It's easy to get caught up in the work and the deadlines. And then after, before too long, you know, you're just worn out and you're out of oxygen. You need to put that oxygen mask back on, right?
Deanne Kissinger (26:52):
Yeah. You can't support others if you can't, if you know, if you're not coming from a good place yourself. Yeah.
Troy Blaser (26:58):
Yeah. Okay, one of my favorite questions, maybe just to help us get to know you a little bit better, is there a talent that you have maybe that most people you work with don't know you have.
Deanne Kissinger (27:10):
Well, I can play the piano.
Troy Blaser (27:12):
Deanne Kissinger (27:12):
Not extremely well, I have maybe three or four hits, you know, that I've got on repeat that I can play, but I can play the piano, that doesn't normally come up in the work environment.
Troy Blaser (27:23):
It does not, it doesn't come up in the work environment. It doesn't often come up in podcast conversations like this, but I think that's fantastic. I have a son, a 15-year-old son who's been taking piano lessons for a couple of years now and with sometimes more and sometimes less enthusiasm, but I'm excited for him to be able to have that as a skill. And I think is something that I admire.
Deanne Kissinger (27:45):
Yeah, it's a good skill to have. Yeah.
Troy Blaser (27:46):
And you know, probably part of putting that oxygen mask on in terms of keeping that right work/life balance, or having something in your life that's not work-related and a chance to explore and grow in new ways in new areas. So.
Deanne Kissinger (27:59):
Yeah. Yeah. I eventually I do at some point want to learn how to play guitar and when I was visiting my sister recently, they had a little ukulele and I tried to play Somewhere Over the Rainbow. My niece was actually teaching me how to play Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which she learned on YouTube, you know? So it's new and different ways to learn all the time.
Troy Blaser (28:18):
That's awesome. That's fantastic. I think the ukulele is probably a good stepping stone. If you're, you know, headed towards guitar start with only four strings on the ukulele and then we'll work our way up to the six strings on the guitar. Right. Something like that.
Deanne Kissinger (28:29):
Troy Blaser (28:30):
Well, Deanne I've really enjoyed our conversation today about feedback, ways that we can give it and receive it. If people want to know more, if your conversation with me has struck a chord with them, are you open to continuing that conversation with our listeners?
Deanne Kissinger (28:46):
Yeah, definitely. I'd say, you know, reach out to me on LinkedIn, and make sure that you tell me in the little notes section that you heard us chatting on the Simply Feedback podcast. That's always very helpful, but yeah, I'd love to hear from people.
Troy Blaser (28:58):
That's cool. That would be, that would be awesome. So you can watch for people to reach out on LinkedIn and mention the podcast and continue the conversation that way. That would be really great. Well, like I said, thank you so much for joining us today. It's been great to have you.
Deanne Kissinger (29:12):
It's been great to be here. Thanks Troy.