BY CHRISTINA FIORENZA
Editors Note: Last month, HR Coach addressed the impending Fair Labor Standards Act overtime regulations and requirements, which have been updated since our previous issue’s press time. The effective date is now set for December 1, 2016, while the minimum salary threshold has been changed to $47,476. Check out Christina Davis’s blog post at liverymanagement.com/final-rule-overtime for a more in-depth update on this issue.
Most of us fondly recall our childhood summers, when we didn’t have a care in the world and spent our days at the pool with friends. One of my favorite games from those summers was Marco Polo: The player who was “it” had to close their eyes while trying to tag the other players using only the game’s eponymous call-and-response exchange as a guide. On rainy days, we played a similar game indoors: One player hid an object that others would search for, directing them to its location by saying “cold,” “warm,” or “HOT!” depending on their proximity to it. Both of these childhood games have something significant in common: They depend upon feedback exchanged between players.
Although we are no longer children with carefree summers, we continue to employ those feedback skills. Whether we recognize it or not, feedback is happening all the time. Every time we speak, every time we listen, every time silence falls upon a conversation, those instances are all forms of the purest kind of feedback.
Oxford Dictionary defines feedback as “information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc., used as a basis for improvement.” There, in the definition, is the reason we should be providing constant feedback to our employees and coworkers: improvement!
While there are many components of feedback, I’d like to focus on the two I consider most important: effective listening and verbal communication. These elements show that feedback is a two-way street when it comes to talking and listening in an effective, productive manner. We’ve all been in conversations with coworkers, clients, and family members who appear to be listening to us, but in fact are not. I’ve also been part of a conversation in which I was absolutely sure I said one thing, but something else was heard.
Effective listening contains two fundamental components: ensuring the speaker knows we understand what he is saying, and communicating to the speaker that what he said has value. Repeating, in our own words, what the speaker said to us is a start, but explaining the value in it adds a new dimension.
An example may help explain this a bit more: If an employee came to you and said, “I just don’t understand how to read this screen and it makes me feel stupid,” what would your knee-jerk response be? “It’s not that hard; you just have to read what’s on the screen”? Or what about, “Look, that’s where you need to read” while pointing to what the employee is missing? To exhibit effective listening, an answer more along the lines of, “Learning this system takes time and I understand it can be daunting. Why don’t we work through this reservation together and you can ask me questions as we do,” is more constructive. Moreover, the employee will likely feel comfortable enough to ask questions in the future, which benefits the company and fosters an engaged workforce.
Feedback also gives us the opportunity to motivate. Who doesn’t like to hear positive comments and praise about their work—from not only managers but also their co-workers and clients? When a client provides positive feedback on a ride or their reservations experience, share those comments with the entire company. When we include the entire team in the communications we receive, we are showing them they are important to us, and we are helping to shape the best culture for our company.
Unfortunately, there will be times when we receive negative feedback, too. But this gives us the opportunity to counsel our staff on the changes and improvements that need to be made. When providing feedback of this nature, be sure your comments are specific to the goal or task at hand, that they are provided in a timely manner, and that your delivery is kind—not sugarcoated. Feedback is the cheapest reward and recognition program we can implement in our companies. An OfficeVibe survey from last year states that “69 percent of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were being better recognized.” By simply providing feedback on a regular basis, we can increase the level of engagement in our team and promote positive and more frequent communication, leading to improved performance on our quest to service excellence. [CD0616]
Christina Fiorenza is the HR Director for The LMC Group. She can be reached at christina@LMCpeople.com.