Use the 3Q formula to build on strengths

By Andrew Bass | "How To's", Leadership, Newsletter

Andrew Bass’s Pragmatics Newsletter August 2012

Practical techniques and thought-provoking ideas
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Use the 3Q formula to build on strengths

When it comes to reviewing performance, there’s generally too much focus on mistakes. As one manager said to me: “Round here, praise is just the absence of criticism.” This is not about making people feel good however (although what’s wrong with that?) – it’s that if you want to improve performance beyond mundane levels, you need to get more of what works, rather than just toning down what doesn’t.

Here’s a quick way to make sure that people get really effective feedback on their performance. Ask them these three coaching questions:

1) What did you do that worked?

2) What did you do better this time compared to last time?

3) What should you work on next?

I learned these from a top football coach.They work amazingly well: the real accelerator question is number 2, because it creates amplifying feedback – a successful snow-ball effect – by increasing focus on what is working.

The sequence of questions is also important – by framing disappointing results in as constructive a light as possible, it leads to tenacity and resilience rather than discouragement.

Try these questions in the next conversation you have to review any kind of performance. Of course, you can use them yourself (What did I do that worked…?), and for a team or organization as a whole (What did we do that worked…?). They will help performance at any level.

Feedback is poorly understood, with consequences at both the individual and organizational level. Read more about:

Andrew on

Years ago I did research which showed how adding more and more rules to try to regulate an organization can actually lead to more, different, and often worse problems than you had when you started out.

With all the debate going on about tightening regulation in the financial sector, my colleague Alan Engelstad and I were asked to contribute a guest post to Karl Moore’s blog on the Forbes website: “It’s Not About More or Less Regulation.”


Praise for Andrew’s recent book: The Performance Papers

“IAC people are benefitting hugely from the content of this book and additionally from Andy’s expert guidance in aligning our people with our objectives and turning strategy into action.”

Jens R. Höhnel, Global Co-CEO & President Europe, International Automotive Components Group (IAC)

“Deeply well developed thinking and approach. A must read!”

John Handley. Chairman, The Green Bus Company and Teamworks Karting plc




© Andrew Bass 2012. All rights reserved.