Consider this: If you need a product, you can usually order it online and get it the same day. If you need a ride, an Uber can be at your location in five minutes. If you want to watch a certain movie, you can start streaming in seconds. Amazon Fresh makes it possible to stay clear of grocery stores with just a few keystrokes and Alexa has replaced the need to look up a recipe (and she even gives me daily compliments!). Americans love immediate gratification, especially since they can get it in most parts of their lives. Why shouldn’t businesses, including car dealerships, function in the same way?
If you’re in business, you probably have employees. And if you have employees, you have people whose skills need to be developed and refined.
When people learn, they need feedback that tells them whether or not they are doing the right thing. Mastery requires feedback; so, the more you can provide feedback, the better your coaching and development efforts will be.
However, if you ask the average person when feedback happens in business, the annual performance review or a disciplinary conversation are usually what come to mind. That’s definitely not immediate and likely not frequent. That needs to change.
More Feedback Faster Means Better Performance
In order to explain how important feedback is to an employee’s development, let’s consider a few examples.
One of your expectations for employees who use the phone is that they must provide a friendly greeting and create a positive atmosphere by asking the customer questions. When Full-Time Fred gets on the phone, he is taking “friendly” to a whole new level — he is greeting the customer in a friendly way, developing connections with callers and engaging them with conversational questions. In this case, you provide Fred with positive and specific feedback in the moment so that he keeps grinning and winning over new customers.
Now, let’s take the same scenario, but paint a different picture. You hear Fred’s stellar performance on the phone, but you say nothing to him because of course Fred is friendly on the phones; he is supposed to be. It’s our standard! In this case, we can’t predict what Fred will do moving forward because you’re leaving his excellent performance up to his interpretation and not providing any feedback to reinforce his positive behaviors.
In another example, Part-Time Paula’s calls are missing the friendly, welcoming tone that’s essential in memorable first impressions. As the manager, what do you do? Your feedback in this case should be to redirect. Consider the following five options:
1. Review Paula’s performance data with her and identify key areas for improvement.
2. Have a conversation with her to understand what might be driving her unsatisfactory performance.
3. Determine if this is a skill, desire or environment issue. Ensure that Paula is clear on phone performance standards.
4. Provide specific and corrective feedback on her performance while getting buy in from her.
5. Create an action plan that includes helpful tasks such as listening to her own calls and scoring them, shadowing more successful “Freds” and signing up for phone skills training.
Alternatively, if you do nothing because you need a body on the phones, Paula showed up and you don’t have time to worry about how friendly she is, Paula’s not magically going to start spewing great experiences for your callers. Not only does doing nothing do a disservice to customers, it deflates morale and is a huge disservice to your employees. Without accountability, you’re silently saying that it’s OK to disregard behavioral standards and provide subpar service to every member of the team. Not only are you saying it to her, along with all of your other Paulas, but you’re also telling your high-performing Freds that poor performance will go unchecked.
Feedback Moves Employees to Action
For Fred, your reinforcement will result in higher engagement. For Paula, your redirection will lead to performance improvement — or she may consider that the role isn’t right for her. Regardless, something positive will happen. Feedback begets development and moves people towards actions that improve or change behavior.
A constant stream of performance feedback is immediate gratification for what’s working and what needs improvement and is essential for personalized development. Coaching and feedback efforts can be easy if you have the right tools in place. Training is all about improving skills, and measurement is all about KPIs and data for decision making. Consider blending the two to improve processes and skills at the same time.
Coming soon, we’ll discuss the last step in the employee engagement process: engagement and retention.