‘John, I’m really pleased with how you’ve been progressing since you joined us here at the hotel and you’re doing a great job. However you’re not doing your administration on time and I’m missing deadlines for my reports. I’d like you to tighten up a bit on this and get your reports in on time. Anyway, thanks for all you’ve done so far and keep up the good work.’
You probably needed John to sort out his reporting but you didn’t want to upset or demoralise him. So you “sandwiched” the not so good news between two bits of better news.
The only problem is that John may not get the message. The importance of it may be seriously diluted. He may hear it as, ‘John, you’re doing a great job, you just need to sort out the reporting bit, but it’s not really that important.’
What happens then is, John continues to fail with his reports.
The sandwich technique doesn’t work, it lets you off the hook and it’s a soft option. Be direct with your people and they’ll respect you more for it. You are also much more likely to get a change in behaviour.
If you are unhappy with some aspect of an employee’s performance then you need to tell them so. The skill is in doing it in a way that’s effective and doesn’t lower the morale of the individual.
Firstly, it’s not acceptable to speak to your people just when you’re unhappy about something. Tell them the good news as well.
Some managers still have this crazy notion that if people are doing things right then that’s what they’re paid for and they don’t need complimented.
When you notice a member of staff doing something you do like, tell them about it. When you notice them doing something you don’t like, tell them about it. Whether it’s good news or bad, the same rules apply.
Do it as soon as possible. Acknowledgement of a job well done is not much good six months later. Also, if you don’t immediately call someone’s attention to something you are not happy about, then they’ll assume its okay. Either that or they’ll think you didn’t notice or you don’t care.
Do it in private. Why is it that some managers still feel it’s okay to reprimand someone in front of their colleagues? Even the mildest rebuke can have a negative effect on morale.
When you speak to the person use “I” messages. Say things like ‘I liked the way you did that’ or ‘I think there is another way to do that.’
Avoid “You” messages such as ‘You’re doing great.’ That can come across as patronising or insincere. ‘You’re doing that all wrong’ may cause conflict, lower morale and may not sort the problem.
When you’re giving feedback, focus on one or two things. You’ll only confuse the person if you run off a whole list of attributes or misdemeanours.
Be specific about job behaviour, focus on what the person did or didn’t do, don’t make a personal attack.
Allow time for the message to sink in and allow the person to respond. You can then seek agreement as to what will happen in the future. If the person does not agree to take corrective action then you need to move to another level. When they do agree to take corrective action then make sure that you monitor it and give encouraging feedback.
Being direct with your staff is better for you, better for them and better for your hotel.
So save the sandwiches for your guests at lunchtime.
About the author
Article by Alan Fairweather, International Speaker and the author of, 'How to be a Motivational Manager, ‘How to Manage Difficult People' and ‘How to Make Sales When You Don't like Selling'. Visit: www.themotivationdoctor.com, for more information.