Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The 10/10 Technique

A colleague of mine loves to teach managers a simple, yet effective way of gathering feedback and ideas for improvement. It’s so simple it only takes about two minutes to explain it to someone. Yet it’s so effective, it’s led to dramatic improvements in leadership capability. Really, I have the testimonials to prove it.
Once someone learns it, they become evangelists for it and can’t wait to share it with others.

I’m not sure who is the originator of the technique – if anyone knows, please let us know so I can give credit. It may have been Jack Canfield, in his book The Success Principles, but I don’t have a copy to verify.

Got your attention? OK, it’s called the “10/10” technique.

Although it can be used for self-improvement in a lot of ways, we use it for leadership development as follow-up to a 360 degree assessment.

First, the manager identifies something they want to improve – say leading a meeting, delegating, listening, or conducting a one on one. Although not as effective, it could even be as general as “leadership”.

Then, at the end of a one on one, or whenever the opportunity presents itself (it only takes about 10 minutes), the manager asks the question: “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate my delegation skills?” Usually the answer is not a perfect 10, because the manager has already had it pointed out on their 360 assessment. So if it’s anything less than 10, the managers asks the follow-up question: “What would I need to do for you to rate me a 10?”

It works so well because it gives the manager very specific ideas for improvement, in terms of what’s important to the other person. It opens up dialog in a non-threatening way, builds trust, and creates a win-win developmental partnership.

The 10/10 technique is very versatile – it can also be used with your peers, manager, customers, suppliers, and even in your personal relationships. “So tell me honey, on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate my ____?”

Let’s try it out right now: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate this blog? If less than a 10, what would I have to do to have you rate it a 10?


Anonymous said...


I’d rate it 6 or 7. I don’t want to ignore it, because once every few weeks it has something really original and valuable that I’m not hearing anywhere else. But…

• Publish less frequently. Too often you seem to be stretching for material, and the lukewarm results bring down my impression of the whole blog. Maybe just focus on producing one or two real “keepers” per month. You would zoom to the top of my reading pile.
• Apply a “FIOFY” rule (Figure It Out For Yourself): avoid like the plague any topics or processes that your readers could figure out for themselves. I think many readers – the ones who are NOT blog addicts – are constantly asking themselves, “Is this worth my time? Am I really getting much here that is novel and valuable?” If they often read material they could have figured out for themselves, they stop reading.
• Have someone proofread everything for you. Spell-checkers aren’t enough. It was annoying in today’s blog to stumble over “can’t way to share it with others” and realize you meant “can’t wait…” If you want to get your readers’ time and attention, don’t waste it on mistakes!

Thanks for asking – it worked!


Ron said...

I would have to say 9 because the content of your posts is very helpful.

Jennifer said...


I,too, am drawn to "simple yet effective" models to help leaders improve. This is certainly simple. The one caveat I would offer to the model is this: it assumes there is the appropriate level of trust between the leader and follower to have this open exchange of communication.

This 10/10 model would work fine with a high-trust relationship, but be a dud with an employee who has reservations about the bosse's motivation for asking.

Dan McCarthy said...

Dan -
Thanks for the suggestions.

Ron -

Jennifer -
I agree. Trust is the foundation for any relationship, including teams. So if it's low, a LOT of the tips and tools offered in this blog won't work very well.

Chris Young said...

Powerful post, Dan! I especially love that this technique encourages employees and leaders to take responsibility for their own development.

I've featured this post in my weekly Rainmaker 'Fab Five' blog picks of the week (found here: to help my readers take charge of their own development and improve their performance at work.

Keep rockin' Dan!

- Chris

Dan McCarthy said...

Chris -
That's awesome, thanks!