Jul 28

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Give feedback that gets results

285_2721557Providing employees with meaningful feedback will help them improve their performance. Yet fewer than half of employers use feedback effectively, according to a New York University poll.

What prevents supervisors from providing the right feedback? Lack of perspective, assertion, personal involvement, and understanding, according to senior consultant Jamie Higgins of the Monitor Company and Diana Smith of Monitor University.

They offer this advice to ensure your staffers receive targeted guidance:

  1. Keep Perspective. Every story has two sides, so your point of view is also limited. Use feedback as an opportunity to foster dialogue, not a monologue.
  2. Be Assertive. Don’t back down when a worker resists your feedback. Stay firm and focused; remember that wishy-washy comments aren’t helpful. Instead, foster learning by asking what types of problems he or she has faced. Then, offer suggestions.
  3. Get Involved. Sub-par productivity has multiple causes. Make sure you’re not impeding your employees’ work. Ask focused questions like: “What could I do to help you complete this task on time?”
  4. Show Understanding. Mistakes happen, but covering them up doesn’t help. Find out what led to the mistake, and then ask the employee to identify steps to avoid that mistake in the future. Your feedback will provide real learning and development.
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Dec 02

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Guide your workers to a job well done

guide-employeesLetting your workers know how well (or not so well) they’re doing their jobs isn’t just part of your job. Informing them of what they’re doing right and where they need improvement gives them guidance. This guidance prevents them from just plodding through their days and tells them what to focus on.

Using specific examples of good and not-so-good work gives your workers concrete situations to refer to so they know exactly what to improve on. When you have a not-so-good review to dish out, you must give an employee specific examples of why he isn’t meeting your expectations.

For example: Rather than tell him “Your job performance has been low and you need to shape up or hit the road,” tell him “I noticed you’ve been late three times this week and haven’t made any of your production goals What can I do to help?” Giving negative feedback to a worker is never easy, but you can follow these tips to ease the burden:

  • Always cite the specific task he needs improvement on. Keeping track of your workers on a regular basis instead of trying to come up with review points at the last minute will help to make this process smoother.
  • Always offer to help him fix the problem in any way that you can. If your worker needs more training, schedule some time to work with him.
  • Never displace your anger on him. Even if you’re frustrated with his performance, getting angry with him will only make him defensive.
  • Never give an employee negative feedback in front of other employees. Instead, find a quiet place and a good time to talk.
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Sep 04

CUSTOMER SERVICE CORNER: Shape your service through feedback

customer-surveyIf you’re like most companies, you’re working hard to bring in new customers and deliver top-notch service to existing customers. But do you know whether you’re meeting anyone’s expectations?

“The only way you can consistently get better at what you do is with a steady flow of honest and direct feedback,” says Kevin Stirtz, a customer-service consultant and author of the book More Loyal Customers.

You must open up multiple feedback routes so that your customers can let you know what they think of your features, services and support.

Crucial:No matter which channels you use, you must gather as much feedback as possible if you plan to convert your customers into lasting partners, Stirtz stresses. Get started with these three options:

  • Customer Surveys. A survey works well when you have specific questions for customers. For instance, if you want to know how well a new feature is working or how you could improve it, a structured survey will help customers give you the information you need.
  • Email Forms. Often, you’ll want a more open-ended feedback format that allows customers to give you the information they want you to know. A simple email form on your website makes it easy for customers to fire off their thoughts.
  • Service Forums. Many companies are hesitant to host forums for fear that negative comments will run new customers off. However, if customers post their concerns and you post a follow up to show how quickly you solved the problem, new customers will be impressed by your concern for your clients.
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