Part of a manager’s job is to help grow and develop talent for the organization. And, most employees want to know how they are doing. When managers take the time and effort to comment on an employee’s work, they are helping shape not only that employee, but the organization as well. But, when managers fail to provide feedback, they actually impoverish the individual as well as the organization.
Some managers hesitate to give feedback for a couple of reasons:
1 – They may feel that giving positive reinforcing feedback to employees will “spoil” them or that it is not necessary since the employees are just doing the job for which they are being paid.
2 – They may dread the awkward conversation that sometimes happens when they must give corrective or improvement feedback, so they say nothing and hope the situation will improve.
At CAI, part of our mission is to replace fear with action. We share with our classroom participants a simple formula for doing so. It’s called the BIT. BIT stands for behavior, impact and tomorrow. It’s a handy way to remember that feedback, regardless of whether it is reinforcing or corrective, should have three elements:
- Behavior – talk to the employee about exactly what he or she has observed or overheard doing or saying.
- Impact – let the employee know the impact (again, whether positive or negative) that his/her behavior has on the customer, their colleagues or other stakeholders.
- Tomorrow – finally, explain that you wish for the employee to continue exhibiting the positive behavior and encourage him/her to do more of it OR let the employee know that a behavior change must take place within a given time period.
- Jason, I heard you speaking to an upset customer in the lobby this morning. He sounded pretty angry. You kept calm and did not raise your voice. Instead, you asked him for more details and just listened.
- The impact of your composure was to not only calm our customer down, but to preserve his business with us. I feel confident that he intended to close his account when he first came into the lobby.
- Jason, we appreciate your professionalism immensely. Next week, we have a new employee starting in Customer Service. Would you please make some time to let her shadow you on some of your customer service calls?
Corrective, need for improvement:
- Marcy, yesterday I saw you turn your back on our auditor who was waiting for the key to the conference room. It was clear you saw her standing there, but you ignored her until she had to ask you again for the key.
- The impact of this behavior is that in addition to being impolite, you have sent a message of indifference to the auditing staff, who is here trying to help us.
- From tomorrow on, please make it a point to greet the auditors when they arrive and ask them how you can assist them. Please extend the same courtesy to them as you would to our customers.
The BIT statement is a powerful tool that does not diminish the employee in any way. It does not judge someone’s character or intent; it merely states the facts and their impact and further clarifies the manager’s expectations.
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Linda L. Taylor, MS, SPHR, CCP, is a Learning & Development Partner at CAI. She brings more than 20 years of human resource and organizational experience to her role as a trainer. Linda is responsible for teaching CAI’s various courses, including The Management Advantage™, to train and educate members and clients. Her extensive experience as manager, consultant, and educator provides her with a unique skill set that allows her to effectively partner with member organizations and work to positively impact their business results.