Today’s commentary is focused on giving appropriate feedback.
An important part of any leader is how to give appropriate feedback. It should be provided through observable behavior, explaining the impact of the behavior, and the communicating the desired behavior.
Observable Behavior: When providing feedback, it’s important to provide clear, factual statements about the person’s behavior without an editorial, help the person to feel in control of the situation, state the preferred behavior, and ask the person what the plan is for correction. For example,
“John, thank you for coming into work each day to do your work. When you are here, you do a great job. I’ve noticed that recently, you’ve been coming to work late and when that happens, it has a negative impact on the rest of the team that needs to cover your coverage gaps. What actions do you plan to take to ensure that you come to work on time each and every day?”
This kind of constructive feedback starts with a sincere compliment that comes from the heart, reinforces a positive regard for the employee, and highlights the difference between intention and impact with a request to take positive action.
Impact of the Behavior: It’s important that the person understands the impact of the undesirable behavior for oneself, for the organization, and to you as a supervisor, colleague, peer, or team member. Maintain your ability to stay focused on the key issues and do so in a receptive way. It’s important that feedback is provided as timely as possible. Providing feedback about something that happened last month is not as productive as providing feedback on-the-spot when an
“Mary, I just noticed your negative interaction with that patient at the front desk. You didn’t acknowledge her when she came to speak with you and didn’t provide professional behavior with her when she asked a question, specifically by interrupting her before she was finished speaking. I’d like you to think more about that interaction and at the end of the day, let’s talk about the triggers that prevented you from providing effective professional behavior and hear your ideas on how you can provide better customer service to patients in the future.”
Preferred Behavior: Preferred behavior may seem like common sense, but it is not so common especially when a person is in a stressful situation. Stress impacts people differently and someone may not even be aware of their behavior during those times. That’s why it’s important to help the person to feel in control of their behavior and of the outcome of the behavior. The person receiving feedback needs to feel the choice of response is theirs to make. And the recipient needs to understand the rationale behind the potential actions that are being recommended to build a sense of commitment to future actions. The person also needs to understand the consequences of negative behavior and responses.
“Bill, I just heard you talking with one of your co-workers about cleaning up the employee lounge after lunch. While your message was accurate that everyone needs to keep the lounge clean by throwing away their lunch which the person did not do, your communication and approach was not appropriate. You yelled at your co-worker for not throwing away his lunch, swore at him, and did it in front of several other people creating an uncomfortable working environment. That kind of behavior is not acceptable, does not reflect our commitment to professional behavior and will not be tolerated. There is to be no yelling, no swearing, and no public correction. Later today, when you’ve had a chance to think about it, we will get together and ‘Role Play’ how you could have communicated with your co-worker more effectively.”
Providing feedback is an important leadership skill and it’s important to provide positive as well as negative feedback. Feedback should be provided in private with an intent to help the person focus on those things that can be changed. When providing feedback, the person needs to be emotionally ready to receive and hear feedback. And feedback conversations should be a two-way conversation. Role-playing may be an important tool to use to help the person receiving feedback practice on ways to communicate more effectively.
At CAHL, we support one another to be high-performing leaders and it’s important that we all work together to meet our goals and objectives, collaborate with purpose, and provide each other with feedback towards our vision of “serving healthcare executives throughout Northern and Central California and advancing excellence in healthcare leadership to improve the lives within the communities we serve.”
CAHL is here to support your professional and personal development through networking, educational programs, and career development. I’d love to hear from you on ways we can support your growth and development. Please feel free to contact me with your suggestions and ideas.
Michael O’Connell, MHA, FACHE, FAMPE
President, California Association of Healthcare Leaders