10 Steps to Giving Feedback
Imagine the following scenario: You implemented a new recall system six months ago. You believe you were clear in telling your Front Office employee that you did not want to schedule patients six months in advance any more. Today you learned that Mary never followed your instructions. You feel frustrated and angry.
This exact circumstance may not be realistic for you, but I am certain that at some time in your dental career you’ve been disappointed or angered by an employee’s action, or inaction. How did you handle it? How should you have handled it? Let’s use Mary as the example.
Clearly you and Mary need to talk. However, the biggest challenge in communication comes when we are under stress. We have a sense of loss that we convert to hurt and often anger. If we try to talk in the heat of the moment, we tend to say things we later regret. Therefore, it’s always a wise decision to wait and think things through.
Studies also have shown that the number one factor affecting an employee’s performance (and minimizing turnover) is his/her relationship with their supervisor or boss. Before you do or say anything to Mary, be careful that you are not misjudging her actions. Remember that she may be operating from a positive intention despite falling short of meeting your expectations. She needs feedback.
Feedback is communication regarding a person’s behavioral impact. The term “feedback” was originally borrowed from electrical engineering. In the field of rocket science, for example, each rocket has a built-in apparatus that sends messages to a steering mechanism on the ground. When the rocket is off target, these messages come back to the steering mechanism that in turn makes adjustments and puts the rocket back on target again.
Feedback then tells us whether we are “on course” - keep doing what you’re doing, it’s working - or provides us with information to put us back “on course.” The problem is, most people associate the term “feedback” to mean criticism rather than information. As such, it is met with reluctance or anxiety, or simply avoided. Yet, the process of giving and receiving feedback is one of the most important communication tools you have to keep your office efficient and profitable. It requires some planning to be effective.
THINK through the main idea you want to express. Organize supporting thoughts or facts so that they lead to your main point. By being concise and clear, you increase the likelihood that you have a positive impact and your message will be heard.
BE POSITIVE AND CALM. Make good eye contact. Start the conversation by identifying something that you sincerely appreciate about the person. Then define the current issue in concrete terms. Address behaviors, not personalities. Be direct in a non-aggressive manner. Stick to the issue at hand. Avoid bringing in other business or old problems.
NEGOTIATE. Ask the person for their feedback. By requesting their input, you build a “win-win” atmosphere. Remain non-judgmental. Show concern and avoid interrupting. Listen for main thoughts or ideas, particularly with people who include a lot of detail or tend to ramble. Paraphrase what they have said if you need clarification, or simply to confirm understanding.
Here’s a dialogue script for talking with Mary.
By communicating this way with employees, you are on the road to increasing quality results and maximizing staff retention.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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