Many managers and business owners find the idea of giving feedback to their employees to be almost as much fun as cleaning dog poop off your shoe. Notice I said almost as much fun, but not quite.
No one really likes to hear they aren’t doing something well, so of course, we don’t necessarily like to be the one to point it out. Deep down all managers or business owners dream that at the moment they hire an employee, that person will turn out to be perfect in every way. They will be punctual, articulate, efficient, a great team player, courteous and absolutely amazing to work with.
Nudge, nudge…wake up…you are dreaming! It is okay to dream but understand that this magical employee only exists in the land where the unicorns live. Great employees are built, over time. It takes work, on both sides to get to know each other, to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, to build a level of trust and to build the skills and attributes that ultimately allow you to seamlessly work together. Part of what moves this along and allows it to build faster, is the use of feedback.
Have you noticed that sometimes feedback seems to be accepted and heard and in other cases it isn’t. If you want to know the difference, likely it comes down to sequence. When feedback is provided in the right sequence, it is more likely to be received in a positive way.
One of the techniques, we use, is called the “Feedback Sandwich”. It is a simple technique that puts both the provider and the receiver of feedback at ease and it opens the receiver up to hearing what you have to say.
There are three steps to the process and you will be amazed at how easy it is.
Step 1 – Starts off by telling the person specifically what they are doing well. (It doesn’t matter how frustrated you might be in a moment, there are things the person is doing well, so focus on finding those.)
Step 2 – Identify and discuss the one or two areas where they need to improve. (This shouldn’t be every mistake that they have ever made. Regular feedback ensures you only have one or two)
Step 3 – Tell them that overall they are doing a good job and that you believe in them.
So let’s look at an example of how this might sound:
Sam, I was wondering if I could give you a little feedback? I noticed you did a great job of rounding the corners on that last grind and you held the bar in the clamp really well. In the future you might want to use a polishing rag in order to make sure there is no rough edges, but overall I think you are doing a good job.
You will notice we asked the person if they wanted some feedback. If they say no, then likely you should just move on, because they really won’t listen anyway. Sometimes resistance can come from receiving feedback in the past in a negative way. If you move on, there is a high likelihood, the person will come back and tell you later on that they would like to hear what you have to say. At that moment, they will be listening.
The other question we receive regarding this technique, is what if the person isn’t doing a good job. Why would I tell them that at the end, if they aren’t. This is a “Feedback Sandwich” technique is used for small adjustments, where you are trying to correct a behavior and you know they are making adjustments, along the way. In cases where someone is not applying the feedback or correcting the behavior, there are different techniques likely more appropriate. If they are not improving then, your right, you wouldn’t tell them they are. We have found that small feedback in this format, helps to prevent the other techniques from being needed.
Remember, people like to be appreciated and acknowledged and are generally more than willing to make adjustments, if those first two things are present. This type of feedback produces results. It takes the pressure off of you,lets you be supportive and it allows your employees to feel you are looking out for them and wanting to see them be successful. Giving feedback can be a win, win for everyone!
Ps. This same approach works well with spouses, children, family, colleagues, you name it!