Written by Amy Scannell, Director Client Engagement
Bob is a stellar employee. He shows up on time, takes a minute less then he can take for lunch and breaks, and leaves within a reasonable amount of time at the end of the day. Bob completes all his work timely, thoroughly and – for the most part – error-free. What Bob is not great at is keeping his personal opinion out of the workplace. And, it’s not just his personal views, but also his moral, academic, and ethically superior reasoning behind his views. And, when asked to limit his comments, he chooses instead to augment and argue them. Because he is a stellar employee, management has chosen to look the other way and not address this with Bob. The problem is that other co-workers are feeling bullied to jump on board and entertain his beliefs.
Why is it so hard for a manager to walk up to Bob and explain why this isn’t really a good use of workplace banter…well, because no one wants to be the bad guy.
Below are a few common employee feedback mistakes
- Giving feedback only when negative – if you give positive and negative, it’s easier for the recipient to swallow the negative.
- No meat to the feedback – if you are too vague, the message will have no meaning – “Bob, please keep your personal views to yourself” is not as powerful as “Bob, while we all have the right to our individual beliefs, I’d like to offer up the possibility that your style of sharing your opinion is occasionally offensive to some of your co-workers. It might be better to stay away from controversial topics here at work.”
- Waiting too long – if you address this with Bob too long after situations where employees feel pressured by Bob’s rants, chances are he will forget it and not know what you are talking about.
- Putting it on someone else – Own the feedback – the person closest to the issue will be able to deliver the most honest feedback.
- Taking the easy way out – having a direct conversation and asking “do you understand what I’m trying to say” is much better then a passing comment or email which could be left to interpretation.
Keep in mind, that employees have no way to know that what they are doing is wrong…or right…unless they are told. Given Bob’s good work ethics, it’s likely that a little friendly reminder will go a long way!