Have you ever given feedback to someone and it went completely wrong? Did they scream and yell at you, or did they take it and grow from it? Giving feedback can be difficult or rewarding to the receiver, so you will always want to make sure it is impactful!
Here are a few key points to stick to when giving any kind of feedback to make it more effective. You should always be specific and stick to the point, never use hearsay alone as a basis for giving feedback. You should offer tips on how to improve next time, give both positive and negative feedback, and, most importantly, keep it timely. Feedback is so important in everyone’s growth and daily life, so let’s make sure you are on the right track by improving how you communicate with your staff!
When giving feedback, make sure to be specific. If you don’t, the employee may continue the behavior because they were not aware of the exact issue. Being specific ensures you stick to the facts, leaving less room for ambiguity. If you approach an employee and tell them they acted inappropriately in front of guests, what does it really mean?
Was their tone too loud? Were they directing it toward a guest? Did they have an attitude? You want to make sure to give specific examples of their exact behavior. By sticking to the point and being direct, you can be more effective in delivering any kind of feedback. It also creates accountability, if it continues to happen you have already brought a specific incident to their attention so you can now take the next step.
Having an open line of communication is essential in a veterinary practice, but make sure the information is valid. If not, it can be classified as plain old gossip. If the day shift tells you the night shift is not doing A, B, and C, start monitoring those issues. Prior to leaving for the day, check this information is valid before attempting to address it.
Suppose someone said another employee is demonstrating horrible behaviors in front of clients; be careful just listening to the hearsay. If you are unable to witness it yourself, make sure to have a relationship with those employees who do so you can verify their behaviors with other team members.
Ideally, try to put yourself in a place to be able to witness it for yourself and correct it in the moment as soon as they step away from the client. It may mean moving your work area for the day/week or even working in the thick of it beside them, then make that commitment to get to the bottom of the issue. It is so important to hold people accountable for their behaviors, or even praise them for the great work ethic they have demonstrated, but always make sure the source is valid.
Considering feedback can be positive or negative, make sure to give both types. If you are constantly only giving negative feedback, then every time you ask to speak with someone your employees will take it they are always in trouble.
Again, it is so important to praise and/or correct any behaviors witnessed. By giving your employees positive feedback, you are also reassuring them they are on the right track and they are supported. When a negative feedback moment is required, make sure it is honest feedback and not criticism.
Present negative feedback positively. When it feels like criticism, it makes the person feel attacked and they reject the feedback. The main message should be you care and want the person to grow. When practiced properly, staff can benefit greatly from it. After all, we want to make sure the person receiving the feedback feels a sense of growth rather than decline.
After giving someone feedback, always give them tips on how to improve. If they don’t know how to improve on an issue, the reality is they usually will not. You cannot expect everyone to recognize their own behaviors.
Most of the time, the person probably does not even know they are doing something wrong. By being able to point out an issue productively and the steps needed to correct it, it will help the person recognize it and move forward in the right direction to fix their behavior.
Make sure you both understand what needs to happen. Set goals and monitor their progress. Your staff will learn much faster when they have a clear sense of what they are doing and what may need to improve. Additionally, keep
in mind that the follow up to feedback is just as important, as it helps hold the person accountable if there is no progress.
Positivity is important
It is so important to make sure you give the feedback in the moment. The receiver cannot correct themselves or be reassured they are doing a great job if you delay. Remember, feedback is intended to support or improve someone’s performance. If you wait to give feedback, it could be forgotten, disregarded, or even rejected.
Think of it this: It’s easier to give feedback about a single 30-minute job done incorrectly than a whole year of failed 30-minute jobs. By correcting them or praising them in the moment, it allows them to pause, engage, and modify the behavior in the moment. Giving that feedback in the moment also makes learning an active experience, rather than a passive experience. The main message should be you care and want the person to grow.
Giving feedback can be difficult for some for many reasons. To help alleviate this stress, make sure you are sticking to the point and being specific. Additionally, use facts as a basis for feedback, consistently relay positive and negative feedback, offer tips on how to improve, and keep it timely. By doing so, your practice can be on the road to a more positive and productive environment.
As a manager, I always want my staff to feel a sense of growth and empowerment. not all employees can take feedback positively, but if it is delivered correctly, there can be minimal misunderstandings, which then creates a better environment. Not only does your staff benefit from these feedback tips, but your communication will also improve among the hospital.
Rachel Singletary is a practice manager in Lakeland Florida working with Family Vet Group who has started from the bottom and moved her way up. She has managed many different areas of animal hospitals and her top passion is inventory, staff development, and budgeting. Client satisfaction, growth and inventory are major factors in her daily life because she strives to provide a positive experience for both her clients and staff.