Note from Andrew: Occasionally, I’ll have some of my staff write articles or feature articles from guest consultants. This particular article is by one of the Sozo Firm team.
You may notice an employee offering inadequate, unsatisfactory customer service to your customers. You fear it will eventually hurt your business. However, you also fear bringing up corrective feedback to an employee. Yet, feedback is necessary to elicit understanding and change. These 4 tips can help ensure the conversation brings about positive effect rather than argumentation.
1) Choose the time and place
There is a time and place for everything. The same is true for corrective feedback or criticism. When and how you give feedback can mean the difference between understanding and moving forward or arguing with little change.
Example: Criticizing a worker on Monday morning at 8 AM in front of five other coworkers will only demean him/her. Rather, approach the worker and ask when an appropriate time to meet privately to discuss work related issues would be. This allows the worker to decide an appropriate time in her schedule, while also providing privacy from other coworkers.
2) Give feedback in a timely manner
You may think that ignoring or postponing a problem until next month’s meeting won’t hurt your business.
Example: You noticed your employee acting discourteous to customers. You make a note and decide to discuss it with her during a meeting in two weeks. However, in those two weeks her attitude hasn’t changed and customers are beginning to complain. Ignoring the problem will only harm your business. Immediately document and start developing a plan of action for any type of situation.
3) Avoid “Never” and “Always”
Never and always are two greatly overused words in our vocabulary. We often think we can place emphasis on the situation by using them. We may feel it will warrant a change. However, these two words can quickly turn a discussion into an argument.
Example: In a confrontation, you accuse your employee of “always” turning in her reports late. Yet, you both are aware that while some reports are late, the use of “always” is too harsh. She will immediately become defensive and focus on your wording, rather than the subject at hand. To stay on track, pinpoint specific examples such as “you turned in 5 reports late in the last month.” Your employee will focus on the situation and how to correct it, rather than on an argument.
4) Listen, rather than talk
Although you may want to dominate the conversation and offer your opinion and thoughts, listening can offer valuable insight into underlying issues.
Example: You voice your concerns with your employee and then allow her 10 minutes to speak. By offering your undivided attention, you can focus on what exactly she is saying. You may find out that she isn’t offering a specific product or service only because she doesn’t fully understand it. You now can develop a plan of action for further training.
Corrective action is often a situation that can become awkward and defensive quickly. Most managers or business owners choose to ignore, rather than confront. However, by choosing an appropriate time and place, your wording and attitude, and developing plans of action, you will be more effective. The goal is to initiate change in the employee, not infuriate them.
About Sozo Firm
Sozo Firm helps startup companies, small to mid-sized businesses & nonprofit organizations thrive through developing and implementing business optimization strategies. Our efficiency consulting addresses business processes, customer service, employees, marketing, public relations, and communication. Our internet strategy consulting addresses website usability, reputation management, social media, and internet marketing. Contact our senior consultant, Andrew Jensen, at 800.460.SOZO to learn how we can serve you.