When Giving Feedback Feels Like Doing Laundry…..And Not In a Good Way

I am in a laundromat watching the dryer spinning and it reminded me of a conversation I had with a manager just this week.  Yes, seriously…….I am at the laundromat AND it does remind me of giving feedback to employees. Sometimes they both can make my head hurt from the spinning.

You feel like you have had this conversation at least a hundred times and still the employee doesn’t change.  Have you had this feeling before? It can make your head hurt and your eyes go buggy – just like watching the spinning dryer.

When is enough, enough?  When do you stop spinning?  And then what? What can you possibly say or do that is going to make a difference now?!?  Here’s one way to stop the spinning.

Check Your Values

If you are giving feedback to an employee and it’s not working (especially when you know they are capable of it), chances are the employee doesn’t see it as important.  So tie it to something that is important – your values.

Many organizations have identified values, managers know there are values but forget to tie the behavior to the values…..the same things the organization determined are important.  

In a recent example, a manager had been continuing to provide feedback to an employee.  It was a painful process that wasn’t effective. The employee was not a good team member and the manager kept giving feedback on the importance of being a good team member.  Again and again and again…..spinning.

In this case, the organization had values identified, including respect.  The language around the value of respect highlighted the importance of treating both customers and team members respectfully, what it meant and what it looked like.  

By tying the coaching back to the values of the organization, the importance changes.  It’s no longer a broken record that says “you need to be nice, you need to be nice, you need to be nice.”  It is now more focused. “As an organization, we have identified that respect is core to who we are. That includes respect for our customers AND respect for our team members.  By continuing to behave in this way, you are acting in a way that VIOLATES who we are as a business. This is not okay.”  Feel the difference? The employee will too.

Make The Hard Decisions

These situations can already be hard, but they can get harder.  Like when the employee nails other parts of their job — they provide great customer service or they have really high sales.  But yet you spend a lot of time and energy giving feedback on this one thing.

I get it.  You see their amazing customer service and you don’t want to have a negative impact on your customer experience if this employee leaves.  Or what if the employee leaves and takes customers with……….. Yes, this is a risk.

But don’t underestimate the risk of keeping the employee if they continue to display this same behavior.  The behavior of this one employee could be having a negative impact on three other employees that end up leaving because of it.  The overall impact on your business and your employees is BIG — maybe not as obvious, but definitely bigger. By addressing the behavior, you may feel a bit of short term pain but in the long term it will be so much better.  

It’s like laundry.  Spending an hour in a half in a laundromat on a beautiful Saturday morning sucks, but having the rest of the day to enjoy and having clean sheets on your bed that night makes the short term pain totally worth it.  And if nothing else, the spinning stops.

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