How to Provide Effective Feedback
Because top-notch service quality is so important in the hospitality industry, it's vital that staff members are constantly functioning at a high level. For most managers in the field, a big part of each day's work revolves around assessing, praising, and correcting employees. Sometimes, it may feel like all you do is try to fine-tune your team with a constant stream of feedback.
But according to industry experts, all feedback is not created equal. If you're regularly making some of the most common feedback mistakes, all that talk may be for nothing. But don't despair -- by making just a few simple adjustments to your feedback style, you can bring about major improvements in your team's performance.
Good feedback can work miracles
You expect a lot from your team, and when they fail to live up to your expectations, you probably don't mince words. That's a good first step -- you've already cultivated the feedback habit. But now it's time to make sure that the feedback you offer your team is top-notch. Your employees can't improve their performance without a clear idea of the kinds of changes that are needed. Let's talk about how you can make ordinary feedback extraordinary.
Good feedback is timely
If you allow too much time to elapse between the performance issue and your discussion of it, the effectiveness of the feedback session is likely to diminish. In order to maximize the results of a feedback session, make sure that you address problems or reinforce triumphs soon after they occur.
Good feedback is specific
Whether the feedback you want to deliver is positive or negative, make sure that your analysis is as detailed as possible. According to HR expert Judith Lindenberger of New Jersey consultancy firm The Lindenberger Group, you should limit your evaluations to the actions and outcomes you have observed -- try to avoid sweeping generalizations or psychological analysis of the personality traits you think may be responsible for the employee's performance.
Good feedback is compassionate
It's been proven time and time again -- human beings respond well to positive reinforcement. Excessively negative feedback can do more damage to morale and motivation than you may think. Even when you have to talk about shortcomings in your employees' performance, try to broach the topic in a manner that conveys respect and empathy.
Bad feedback can be worse than none at all
It's happened to the best of us -- in the midst of a dinner rush or the peak check-out period, it's all too easy to correct employee mistakes with overly harsh or vague criticism. Conversely, if you're not experienced in devising meaningful positive reinforcement, even heartfelt praise can come off sounding contrived and phony. Keep these "don'ts" in mind when providing feedback to your team.
Bad feedback is overly critical
Perhaps the most common mistake that managers make is falling into the bad habit of providing overly harsh, critical, or negative feedback to their employees. Faced with a constant stream of insults and angry rebukes, your team is likely to tend to tune you out in order to stay sane. This kind of communication breakdown can be lethal to team effectiveness.
Bad feedback is vague
The problem with vague feedback is that it doesn't offer employees a clear action plan for improvement. In addition, vague feedback often veers into the territory of personal insults, which can be destructive to morale. Don't say "You're too lazy"; say "I want to see you respond immediately the next time a guest spills a drink."
Bad feedback is phony
Despite your best intentions, haphazard or baseless praise won't do much to improve team performance. Instead of lobbing random interjections of "Great job!" or "Keep up the good work!" at your employees, try to make your positive feedback just as detailed and specific as your negative comments. A statement such as, "I really appreciated it when you stayed past the end of your shift to close out that table of regulars last night" is likely to be much more effective.
Keep feeding the feedback loop
According to Gene Ference, an expert on hospitality firm performance who regularly conducts feedback effectiveness assessments as part of his work for global hospitality services provider HVS International, both positive and negative feedback form key components of the high-performance hospitality workplace. Stick within the guidelines introduced here to make sure that your feedback stands the best chance of eliciting excellence from your team.