Driving Transactions
Sunday, April 21, 2024

BY AMY COOLEY

Amidst the ongoing ups and downs and everyday busyness as a luxury ground transportation operator, you likely wear many hats. One of those roles is that of people manager. Your team looks to you to set the tone, guide them toward goals, and hold up your standards and procedures with consistency.

Amy Cooley HR Coach Among the most critical aspects of managing a team is providing feedback. Whether it's praise, constructive criticism, or something in between, delivering feedback is not just about managing performance but also about motivating and developing your team. This is an opportune moment to revisit the basics of giving feedback: why it’s essential, when to provide it, and how to do it effectively.

Why Feedback Is Crucial
Feedback serves as more than a way to address issues; it is also a powerful tool to acknowledge excellent work. Engaging your chauffeurs and CSRs in discussions about their performance shows that you value their dedication to delivering top-notch service to your clients. In a service-driven industry like ours, these conversations play a pivotal role in creating a positive and customer-focused work environment.

During the challenges of the COVID pandemic, March 2021 data from Gallup vividly illustrated that employees who received regular feedback were more engaged in their roles. We know that employees tend to perform better when they feel positively about their workplace and their jobs; so, if some coaching shows that you value them and makes them feel good about being at work, that alone is going to increase productivity. And it also likely means less turnover, which is a long-term benefit to your operation.

Regular and Timely Feedback
As a manager, part of your role is regularly providing feedback, ideally in close proximity to the relevant service, events, and behavior. This approach ensures that the details of each ride and each phone call are fresh in everyone’s mind, making it easier to connect the feedback with the specific service, whether it was outstanding or required improvement. When you make feedback a routine practice, you can sometimes afford to be informal, fostering a comfortable atmosphere that encourages your team members to be receptive to your guidance.

Amy Cooley HR Coach Remember that your feedback has a dual purpose—to acknowledge your team members for their excellent work and to help them enhance areas where improvement is needed. Saving all feedback for annual performance reviews simply doesn’t cut it in today’s workplace. When it comes to feedback, we think of three broad categories:

1. Praise/Acknowledgement
Take the time to celebrate outstanding performance instead of only focusing on areas that require improvement. Failing to acknowledge exceptional service can leave your employees feeling undervalued and uncertain about what they are doing correctly. Offer specific praise that highlights what makes their work exceptional work and the positive impact it has on the team and the organization. Research shows that people respond positively to reinforcement, and by recognizing their great performance, you help reinforce the service standards you aim to instill, thereby encouraging a culture of excellence.

Note: praise is meaningful both one on one and in public. Consider how you can share your employees’ accomplishment with the whole team: monthly meetings? A bulletin board? An online Facebook group?

2. Coaching/Constructive Criticism
Addressing negative feedback promptly is vital to prevent minor issues from escalating into major concerns. If possible, provide this criticism privately or discreetly to avoid any embarrassment. Be direct and constructive in your feedback, steering clear of emotional commentary. Focus on the facts: what went wrong and how it can be improved next time. Clarify the negative impact on your clients and your service.

3. Resolution/Corrective Action
In more extreme cases, patterns of problematic behavior may emerge, or the conduct may be so severe that it necessitates disciplinary action or termination. In these cases, preparing for the conversation is essential. If you’ve been a coaching-oriented manager all along, your employee is far less likely to be blindsided. They should already understand your expectations. Before these discussions, develop a plan and know your intentions, supported by the necessary documentation.

Drawing from my own experience including my early days in the staffing industry, I have seen the value of delivering feedback effectively. I witnessed a colleague who practiced coaching-style feedback in a consistent and authentic way, treating people with dignity, offering praise when warranted, and providing clear direction and ongoing commentary. I may have looked at him in awe when he had to terminate one of our temporary staff members and at the end of the conversation, that person shook his hand and thanked him on the way out the door. Talk about management goals!

Cheer on your team, set high service standards, make your expectations clear, and provide opportunities for growth. Your team will thank you for the clear communication and investment in their success with more engagement.   [CD1123]


Amy Cooley is HR Leader for The LMC Groups. She can be reached at amy@lmcpeople.com.