Driving Staff Reviews, Training, and Retention Through Customer Feedback

By Richard D. Hanks Chairman and President, Mindshare Technologies | April 15, 2010

When was the last time you had to do a negative performance review with one of your employees? I mean the kind where you are the bearer of bad news and have to lay down the law in a forceful manner?

This type of performance review can be one of the most painful and yet delicate interactions that a manager can have with an employee. In this article, I address a simple, yet effective way to offset two of the more difficult issues related to this type of employee review. They are - (1) the subjective nature of the manager's "evidence" for change, and (2) the "selective memory" of most employees when presented with performance weaknesses.

Summary

The bottom-line summary is this: Let your customers provide real-time feedback, specific to each service employee, as close to the service experience as possible. In this way, you'll be presenting the literal voice of the customer to the employee, and the suggestions for improvement will be direct, applicable, and devoid of the inherent bias that is present in all employee-supervisor relationships. Specific training needs will be highlighted and employee retention will go up.

"My Subjective Boss"

I wish I had a nickel for every time I listened to an employee appeal their performance review with these words, "This isn't a fair review, because my boss doesn't like me." This accusation is usually followed with examples of the boss giving more positive performance evaluations to others in the department because, "The boss likes them better." It seems to be an almost unavoidable part of human nature to throw up a defensive posture when confronted by our weaknesses. Another often-used defense is to blame the human bias of those who are asked to subjectively judge us. "She's not fair. She doesn't like my politics. We were peers, and then he got promoted to be my boss. He's holding a grudge, etc."

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