What Is Effective Feedback?

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In a recent article in T&D magazine it stated that of the 3,600+ employees surveyed:

• 66% said they have too little interaction with their bosses;
• 53% said that when their bosses praised them they received too little information to repeat their performance;
and
• 65% said that when their bosses criticized them they were not given sufficient information to correct the problem.

In very simple terms, two out of three managers do not interact on a persistent basis with their teams, and when they do, over half of them give “great job” feedback, and two out of three tell their teams to “pick up your numbers.”

The following is a condensed version of the topic “Effective Feedback,” which we cover in our Management Training Seminars.

How many of you in sales, Business Development or call centers have heard the following:

• “Keep it going”
• “Your numbers are dropping – let’s get it rolling”
• “You’re killing it today”
• “Come on, I know you can do better than that”
• “NICE!”
• “Come on, what was that? Unbelievable!”
• “That’s what I expect”
or
• “Last month we missed our sales goal. This month we need to knock it out!”?

In my many years of delivering call center training to front line supervisors, I cannot tell you how many times I have had to address these same issues. You probably have a few others that come to mind as you read that list.

So, can anyone tell me how the recipient is supposed to apply that feedback?

Let’s first address the “Good job, keep it up” feedback.

My first response to the supervisor would be, “What is ‘it’? Could you be more specific?”

This leads me to my first point: All feedback must be specific.

Maybe the supervisor could have said, “Great job. You are speaking very clearly and waiting till the person finishes speaking before you continue. Keep that up.”

Now, that is something you can repeat. It is a physical action someone can take. There is no misunderstanding – no “Oh, I thought you meant something else.”

My second point is: All feedback must be something the person can do.

Helpful hint: When you think of feedback to say, if you cannot get up and demonstrate how to do it, then you are not being clear enough.

This type of feedback makes your follow-up easier. When you return, the person either will be doing it or not. If he is, then again, compliment him, as this locks in the behavior and he will continue to achieve results. If he is not doing what you need, it will be easy to get him back on track as long as you are specific about what you expect him to do.

Now, let’s look at “I need you to pick up your numbers.”

My first reply to the supervisor would be, “How could they pick up their numbers? Did the numbers fall on the floor?” Now, I am not trying to be sarcastic. I just present it in such a way that the supervisor is able to realize what he actually is saying versus what he really may mean.

What he could say instead is, “I need you to listen to what the customer is asking so you can provide the correct information. This way you will not drop so many calls and get frustrated. This will lead you to close more sales.”

Again in this case, the feedback was specific and included something physical they could do.

A Word of Caution: Managers and supervisors can be lulled into a very dangerous comfort zone when their teams are achieving the results they expect. They do not dig into why their people are getting results. They are so happy to be hitting their numbers that they assume it will just continue. Successful people understand what they do to get results so they can repeat that behavior.

Make sure you spend time anchoring in the proper behavior among your top people. Make them aware of what they do to get results so they can repeat that behavior. This way, if their performance drops for any reason, then you can see what they are doing, match it against what they did previously, and see where they may be cutting corners. It should be very easy to get them back on track.

I have been asked what percentage of time should be dedicated to the top performers. That depends on your day’s activities, but I suggest at least 40% of your training time should be spent with your top people. They are the ones who will be there for the long run.

Keeping top performers focused and performing is what will make your organization successful. In a future post I will delve into this topic a bit further.

Let me know your thoughts.

An article in the December 2009 issue of T&D magazine states that of the 3,600+ employees surveyed:

• 66% said they have too little interaction with their bosses;
• 53% said that when their bosses praised them they received too little information to repeat their performance;
and
• 65% said that when their bosses criticized them they were not given sufficient information to correct the problem.

In very simple terms, two out of three managers do not interact on a persistent basis with their teams, and when they do, over half of them give “great job” feedback, and two out of three tell their teams to “pick up your numbers.”

In my many years of training front line supervisors, I cannot tell you how many times I have had to address these same issues.

The following is a condensed version of the topic “Effective Feedback,” which we cover in our Getting Results without the Stress Seminar.

How many of you in sales, BDC teams or call centers have heard the following:

• “Keep it going”
• “Your numbers are dropping – let’s get it rolling”
• “You’re killing it today”
• “Come on, I know you can do better than that”
• “NICE!”
• “Come on, what was that? Unbelievable!”
• “That’s what I expect”
or
• “Last month we missed our sales goal. This month we need to knock it out!”?

You probably have a few others that come to mind as you read that list.

So, can anyone tell me how the recipient is supposed to apply that feedback?

Let’s first address the “Good job, keep it up” feedback.

My first response to the supervisor would be, “What is ‘it’? Could you be more specific?”

This leads me to my first point: All feedback must be specific.

Maybe the supervisor could have said, “Great job. You are speaking very clearly and waiting till the person finishes speaking before you continue. Keep that up.”

Now, that is something you can repeat. It is a physical action someone can take. There is no misunderstanding – no “Oh, I thought you meant something else.”

This leads to my second point. All feedback must be something the person can do.

Helpful hint: When you think of feedback to say, if you cannot get up and demonstrate how to do it, then you are not being clear enough.

This type of feedback makes your follow-up easier. When you return, the person either will be doing it or not. If he is, then again, compliment him, as this locks in the behavior and he will continue to achieve results. If he is not doing what you need, it will be easy to get him back on track as long as you are specific about what you expect him to do.

Now, let’s look at “I need you to pick up your numbers.”

My first reply to the supervisor would be, “How could they pick up their numbers? Did the numbers fall on the floor?” Now, I am not trying to be sarcastic. I just present it in such a way that the supervisor is able to realize what he actually is saying versus what he really may mean.

What he could say instead is, “I need you to listen to what the customer is asking so you can provide the correct information. This way you will not drop so many calls and get frustrated. This will lead you to close more sales.”

Again in this case, the feedback was specific and included something physical they could do.

A Word of Caution: Managers and supervisors can be lulled into a very dangerous comfort zone when their teams are achieving the results they expect. They do not dig into why their people are getting results. They are so happy to be hitting their numbers that they assume it will just continue. Successful people understand what they do to get results so they can repeat that behavior.

Make sure you spend time anchoring in the proper behavior among your top people. Make them aware of what they do to get results so they can repeat that behavior. This way, if their performance drops for any reason, then you can see what they are doing, match it against what they did previously, and see where they may be cutting corners. It should be very easy to get them back on track.

I have been asked what percentage of time should be dedicated to the top performers. That depends on your day’s activities, but I suggest at least 40% of your training time should be spent with your top people. Keeping them focused and performing is what will make your organization successful.

Let me know your thoughts.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

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