Thursday 8 September 2016

Stop Asking For Feedback!

If I am asked to give any more feedback I will probably shout at someone! And I will probably shout at the managers who think that a good way to manage customer service is to insist that staff collect feedback every time they say hello to a customer. Know what I mean?

Here is my story:


During a recent hotel stay I was asked for feedback on the quality of service after my breakfast, then again after my evening meal. I was asked by the cleaner and chambermaid, and the floor manager. I even had a call from the gym within 30 minutes of my session to ask me about my experience!


Each staff member asked me “would you please give feedback on how I have helped you and how pleased you are with me’. In three cases, I was specifically asked: “if I get some good feedback then it means my job is going to be secure and helps with my rate of pay”. Each person stood in front of my exit with a full smile.


I felt I was being blackmailed, pressured into saying nice things, having my privacy invaded, and became very, very annoyed. The feedback I gave was ‘stop asking me for feedback’!


Why do I care? We know that managers do not usually give their direct reports enough feedback. We know that most of the feedback people often hear is negative. We also know that it is good to receive positive feedback. Feedback should not be used out of proportion. It should not be used as a tool to breed fear into junior people who feel they will be rebuked or disadvantaged unless they proactively seek out volumes of the stuff.

The rules for feedback are simple. Make sure you notice when people do things well and give feedback on it. Make sure you notice when people need to be corrected and give feedback on it. In other words, get better at spotting when feedback is appropriate and give it. Don’t ask staff to go and chase guests around the hotel. Feedback should be personal and specific, and given at a time as close as possible to when it was observed.

Train the people who need to give feedback to look for the behaviours, actions, words or voice that results in good work, or, a need for improvement. Do not fall into the trap of giving vague and imprecise feedback. I can guarantee that the hotel manager in my example will give feedback something like ‘I expect better from you’ or ‘you’ve done a great job this week’ – very imprecise.
These scenarios leave the receiver very unsure what they did wrong, or correctly, and no clearer about what to do next.

Finally, remember to C.A.R.E. about the people to whom you give feedback. I do not believe the managers in my hotel experience really cared about the team; it was simply a technique to collect a quota of feedback for performance records.

Feedback with C.A.R.E. is effective if you follow a few simple rules:
  • Give the CONTEXT where the event occurred.
  • Talk about the ACTIONS you observed or heard.
  • Describe the RESULTS on your feelings or thoughts.
  • EVALUATE yourself. 
    Why did you notice the event and why did it matter to you?
Feedback is an essential management skill, use it skilfully and not as a ritual each week. Give it when it is needed, and as often as you give feedback, ask for it in return.

I am looking forward to the online version of feedback that I will no doubt be asked to provide next week from my recent hotel stay. I will probably tell the hotel to take a lesson on how to give feedback.

Feedback using the C.A.R.E principle is a central component of several core MCE Leadership Courses.

About the Author:

Nigel Murphy supports is Director of Portfolio and Capability Development at MCE and he has a background in management in manufacturing, education and training. 
For the past 10 years he has worked on leadership programmes across the globe. He is interested in the mentoring of new managers and leaders, and leading remote teams of people in today’s globally dispersed businesses.