The next activity you need to do with your leaders: What needs to start, stop or stay?

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” Max DePree

Feedback is a critical to any successful performance management and development process.  With trends in feedback moving leaders towards less formal mechanisms of feedback and away from a formal performance appraisal, we still need to be thinking about how to define the current state of someone’s behavior and performance in order to direct what we want to see.

And sometimes we can formalize things and still make them feel “casual”.   A way to do this is to have a 1. Start 2. Stop 3.  Stay session.

To do this:

1. Get your team together.

2. Give everyone a sheet of flip chart paper and different colored markers​.

3. Ask them to write their name on the top of their sheet.

4. Get each participant to create three columns labeled START, STOP, STAY.

5. Get everyone to hang their flip chart piece on the wall​.

6. Ask everyone to walk around the room indicating one behavior or action in each column on everyone’s paper.  Let participants know that if an item is already on the wall that they want to write down, to go ahead and write it down again.   Note:  This requires that everyone in the room know and interact with each other enough to have valid input.  If this isn’t the case, you may want to consider splitting the group up or telling people if they don’t know someone well enough to skip them.

7. Get everyone to take their notepad down and review it. Prompt people to review in a way that:

  • Identifies patterns or trends. Are people saying the same things?
  • Checks
  • for self-awareness. Are they surprised, not surprised, upset, or glad to see what they are seeing?
  • Leads them to see if there are any clarifying questions they’d like to ask about their feedback. For example, (see a chart for me below done in a group training with a client) one person wrote I needed to start “090” them.  I didn’t know what this meant. Turns out it means to go back to the basics, or the remedial course (not the 100 level course) with them. This was such good feedback because it validated some of the puzzled looks I was getting at times in training when I assumed people knew what I was talking about but they didn’t.  I was thinking their looks meant they disagreed with me, but it meant they didn’t understand.

8. Wrap up the exercise by asking each participant to commit to start, stop or staying on one thing on their list that they think will help them the most and get them to share what they are committing to with another person in the group for accountability.


I find some people are really hesitant to do this in a group setting.  They think it won’t go over well because either 1.  People won’t be honest or 2.  People will get their feelings hurt and get upset.   Both of which can make the exercise counterproductive.

 However, I’ve actually found the opposite to be the case.  Facilitating this with clients has been one of the most positive efforts in performance development I have witnessed.  It leads to great dialogue and changed behaviors. Try it.  If it bombs, you can blame me.

If you want a safer route, you can start by doing it one-on-one.   Ask people first for them to make a list of things you need to start, stop and stay.  Then reciprocate by providing them and list and talking one-on-one about it. 


What are your go-to methods for getting and giving great feedback?

Mary Ila Ward

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