Feedback, Get Performance
By Jay Forte
We have all seen the Olympic gymnasts, American Idol
contestants or other competitors anxiously wait for the scores from
the judges. We watch our parents’ faces when we stand on elementary
school stages or at recitals. We look for information returned from
customer satisfaction surveys. Feedback – we watch for it, we want
it. Whether it is good or bad, we always want information about how
we are doing. We use this information to determine how to respond or
what to do next. Feedback is one of the most powerful tools a
manager has to influence performance.
Employees are now have a greater role in developing strong
customer relationships that inspire loyalty and performance.
Therefore, employees need to have the best skills, use sound
judgment and feel competent in their job. To do this, they must
always be learning, thinking and improving. They need information
about the quality of their decision, and to know if they are making
good decisions. That means managers must be watching to catch
employees doing great things and then provide positive feedback to
sustain the performance. They also must watch to catch problems as
they occur, to use the teachable moment to help the employee improve
and develop stronger skills in order to respond better next time.
Feedback is the way to guide, coach and educate employees to improve
or sustain performance.
Effective performance feedback has rules to ensure its
effectiveness because, done poorly, it can do damage to the
manager/employee relationship. Employees don’t want to be told what
to do or to be scolded. They want meaningful information to help
them improve. Following the feedback process below guarantees all
feedback (for both great and problem events) will focus on behaviors
and performance. Review the following five steps:
Step 1: Start with a “COOKIE” (a positive comment)
– no one likes to
hear about something that needs improving with a strong statement.
Feedback is about people, behaviors and emotions. So start each
performance feedback with a positive comment, something that shows
respect and understanding of who the person is and wins the employee
into the discussion.
Step 2: Describe
the current behaviors and situations (give great details)
– describe what is currently happening, the behavior that you want
to reinforce or redirect and the specific situations where you
observed the behavior needing feedback. Be specific, brief and
direct. Remember, the goal is to change behavior that needs changing
or encourage good behavior to continue.
Step 3: Describe
impact and consequences (find the “hook” or the “attention-getter” for the feedback
recipient) – describe the impact and consequences of the current
behavior, noting the effect the behavior had on results, customers
or employees. Be specific and quantify details. The more detailed
and accurate the information, the more meaningful the feedback will
be. Realize that no adult changes his behavior unless he sees a
personal reason to change. The impact in this case should not only
deal with the organization, but should also be a personal hook for
the employee (or feedback recipient).
Create a plan to continue great behaviors or change negative
(let them have a voice in the response)
– work with the
employee to suggest options that would improve a negative event or
keep a good event going; be sure that the employee has a voice in
the process; the more the employee invents their responses, the more
they own the results.
Step 5: End with a “COOKIE” (positive comment)
– regardless of the
nature of the performance feedback (positive or negative), employees
will process the message better when the performance feedback event
both starts and ends on a positive and personal tone. Be sure to
reassure the employee of the value of the discussion in the
feedback. It sets the stage for an open and honest relationship and
dialog about performance.
The best way to see the impact of this process is to see an
example. Let’s say your employee Jean was not very helpful to a
customer on the phone. You heard the event and now must provide
feedback for Jean to improve her understanding, confidence and
Step 1: Cookie –
you have some of the best customer service skills in the industry.
Our customers are always very impressed with our service levels when
they deal with you.
Step 2: Describe
the current behaviors and situations -
Jean, I heard you on the phone with Stanton Company. You were
short with them, told them to call back when they knew the part
numbers they wanted and hung up without saying thank you. Did I hear
this correctly? (Give Jean an opportunity to respond).
Step 3: Describe
the impact and consequences – Jean, Stanton is one of our largest and best customers. They
continually send other customers to us and if we do not treat them
with our best and most supportive service, they will not refer
others to us. They were critical in helping us achieve our profit
targets, which resulted in bonuses for everyone on the team –
including yours. Our relationship with them is critical to our
Step 4: Identify
– Jean, what do you think you should do with Stanton right now? (Allow
Jean to offer ideas and to own the solution). Great Jean, I like
that idea, please get right on it. Mostly remember how important the
relationship is with each of our customers. They call us because we
know what we are doing and we treat them better than anyone else …
it is how we do business.
Step 5: Cookie
you are an important part of the great service this team gives our
customers. Thanks for making the difference that you do; please keep
doing your best to help us be the best in the industry. Thanks.
Feedback is not a process for the manager to vent. Feedback
is a learning event that focuses on particular behaviors that need
to be sustained or improved. Though this approach is more “human,”
it does not coddle employees. It defines expectations and holds
employees accountable. This process insures that the employee is
treated fairly, learns and is responsible for her actions.
Feedback is one
of the most significant tools that managers have to help guide,
coach and instruct employees to continually grow, make extra effort
and improve performance. Managers catch employees doing great things
and applaud them. Managers catch employee performance problems and
use them to improve performance and win employees back. Employees
want feedback; be sure to provide the right kind of feedback that
builds their skills, confidence and commitment to perform at their
Read other articles and learn more
about Jay Forte.
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