Improving Customer Service

Issue # 29 of 70 

John T. Self, Ph.D.
By: Dr. John T. Self

Give Employees Feedback

How good are you at feedback? It is such a simple, basic part of management that it is more often than not, overlooked.

What is the first question that you ask when you walk into a place where the game is on? What is the score, of course.

And guess what? Your employees want to know the score also. Their score. It's one of the most important pieces of information you can give them.

Be careful though. There are two types of feedback. The first is used for delivering information and developing while the second is used primarily to drive home the point of which one of you is the boss and which one is not.

So how are you at giving developmental feedback? Or rather, how are you at giving ANY feedback, especially when it is not just negative?

Do you remember the experiment in the early part of this century where management was convinced that production was affected by the amount of light in the production facility. Production went up each time the light was turned down. Management got real excited about this development but were puzzled when production kept going up even when the light was turned so far down that the workers could not possibly see very well. This made them think that there might be something else besides the light that was happening here.

They were right.

They found that productivity increases had nothing whatsoever to do with the amount of light. It was simply the attention that was being shown to the workers. They were being looked at, talked about and recognized instead of being invisible.

Times haven't changed a bit. The workers responded then as they do today. When employees are paid attention, their productivity goes up.

The worst kind of feedback isn't negative feedback, it is no feedback. It forces the employee to guess; to have doubts.

The second worst feedback is the "I'll - only - give - you - feedback - when - I - see - you - doing - somthing - wrong" kind of feedback. This causes employees to work defensively and eventually be resentful and angry.

The best kind of feedback happens in a continuous stream. This provides guidance and a kind of compass that gives clear direction to the employees. It provides a map for the employees.

How would you like to be told you had to drive to Paris, Texas but were not allowed to have a map? You could probably go in the general direction of Texas, but how much better would you feel if you had a clearly laid out path and roadsigns to let you know where you are? And how much faster would you get there?

Try doubling the amount of feedback that you give. Both good and bad. I guarantee your employees will respond. If you don't believe me, read or reread "The One-Minute Manager" by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.

John T. Self is a lecturer at The Collins School of Hospitality Management at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona). Prior to entering academia, Dr. Self spent fifteen years in the restaurant industry. While in the corporate world, he worked for several chains including Chili's and Steak and Ale, and as vice president of a regional restaurant chain overseeing six restaurants with sales of over twenty million dollars. He has also owned three independent restaurants, including a comedy club.
Dr. Self has also been involved in the development of international hospitality programs. While at Golden Gate University, he started the partnership with Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China and is continuing in that involvement at Cal Poly.

Improving Customer Service #29 of 70: View all in the Table of Contents

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Text © Dr. John T. Self, 1997,1998. Part of the original Sideroad.