Share this Page URL

Chapter 7. Providing Feedback to Difficu... > Feedback Strategies - Pg. 69

Providing Feedback to Difficult Employees 69 It's your weekly staff meeting. You have 10 employees present, including Martha, who has been curt with some peers and overbearing with some of the support staff (for example, the recep- tionist). Here's what you want to accomplish: · Open the topic in a general way. · Help Martha think more about her behavior. · Do all this without singling out Martha publicly. · Provide a safe forum for discussion. Here's what you might say: "I've noticed that people seem a bit on edge and curt or even sometimes rude to each other. That bothers me, and I think it affects all of us directly or indirectly. I'd like to talk about this, and perhaps we can develop a small list of guidelines about how we should treat each other. To start off, I have a few questions for you. The first is, 'Do you feel that we could treat each other better?' The second is, 'How should we go about making this a more comfortable place to work?'" Notice here we're not singling out anyone and we're trying to encourage discussion and dialogue. Within that dialogue we'll find that information about difficult behavior gets passed to Martha in an indirect way, without necessarily singling her out or humiliating her. This Won't Work! Many people aren't skilled at giving good feedback. If you have employees who are very frustrated, they may blurt out inappropriate comments about the difficult person. To avoid this, provide some guidelines or rules for the discussion. You can use the guidelines listed later in this chapter. Of course, there's no guarantee Martha will see her own behavior as part of what's being discussed. There's a way around this. After the meeting, and in private, you can talk to Martha about the dis- cussion and be more specific. You can combine facilitation of feedback with your own direct feed- back. That drives the points home for Martha. Customers can also be used as a feedback source, if the individual interacts with them frequently. You can use customer service questionnaires to obtain this information, or, better yet, have the difficult person (and perhaps co-workers) periodically ask for feedback from their customer contacts. Cueing Attention on Task Feedback Because one of the problems underlying difficult behavior is that the difficult person is oblivious to its effects, it's important that they be made aware of the consequences of their actions. While direct feedback and facilitated feedback from others involve the perceptions of people, task feedback is more objective in that it concerns the results of the actual job or tasks the person carries out. Your role with this form of feedback is to encourage or cue the difficult person to examine the consequences of his or her behavior on actual job tasks. For example, if you're dealing with someone who constantly procrastinates, you need that person to consider how the stalling affects getting the job done, customer satisfaction, and his or her own mental state. Encourage people to focus on the outcomes of their behavior, and they're more likely to realize it's in their own best interest to change.