Before I even begin writing this post, I want to make one thing very clear. I don’t believe that yelling at someone in a work environment or using bullying tactics to get change will EVER be as effective as feedback. Sure, it may get you results faster and it’s certainly a heck of a lot easier, but in the end, all you’re doing is creating a negative work space and that’s not something anyone wants to work in long term.
Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, let’s talk about ways that you can take weaknesses or problems in your department and start to either make them disappear or turn them into a positive. I find the best way to do this is to create a feedback loop in your company. It takes a little hard work at first, but once you have all the steps in place, the loop becomes organic and you’ll barely even notice it’s in place except for the fact that you have a healthy, productive team.
As you read these, I don’t want you to think of this as a linear progression, I want you to view these steps as a loop (I find it helpful to imagine the little recycling logo). One leads to the other, leads to the other, hopefully in an organic manner at some point. Of course, you do have to start this loop somewhere and I recommend here:
Be open to talk and willing to listen.
If you’re surprised that this is the first step rather than criticism, you shouldn’t be. Before you even begin trying to create change in the workplace, your employees need to feel they can trust you and that you have their best interest at heart. If you’re open and listen well, people will be more likely to take the feedback that you have more seriously.
Give positive feedback and constructive criticism.
Now that your staff is open to hearing what you have to say, sit them down individually at first, then as a team. After all, while each person may have various strengths and weaknesses, a team as a unit also has areas for improvement. If you’re worried about sensitive feelings, you can try the “complement sandwich” method of stating a positive, pointing out a flaw and then bringing up another positive. But it is important to point out areas that need some work.
Offer realistic solutions.
If you don’t offer solutions then how can you expect change? Sure each employee is responsible for their own performance, but you are responsible for giving them the tools and feedback they need in order to succeed. Do not offer constructive criticism if you can’t offer at least one plausible solution.
Check in with your team.
It’s important to follow up with your feedback or else you might lose some of your momentum. Talk to the members of your team and get status reports on the progress of items that you discussed previously.
Of course, when you check in, it’s important to be open to talk and willing to listen. So you see, we’ve come full circle in a fairly natural way and we can keep this feedback loop up to create positive change in the workplace.
What feedback loops are you putting in place? Drop me a note to let me know what’s working for you!