The no. 1 frustration I hear from team leaders is that their feedback falls on deaf ears. The employee seems to get it for a minute, and then they go right back to their old habits.
So, they give the same feedback again – this time “louder” – either literally, or through progressive discipline, or sadly sometimes threats or biting sarcasm.
Sure, there are some folks out there “you just can’t fix,” but frequently that’s not the real issue.
Reasons your feedback is being ignored
When I turn the tables and ask employees why the behaviour continues, here’s what they tell me:
1. The feedback flood factor
“I’m trying to do better, I really am. But it’s all just too much. Every time we meet, he’s giving me something else to work on. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get it right, so I’ve learned to just block him out and do the best I can.”
If you want real change, isolate one behaviour at a time.
2. The ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ factor
“My boss keeps telling me my customer courtesy credits are too high – that I’m costing the business too much money. So I really worked on that for a while. But then, I found my customers asking to speak to my supervisor. And guess, what? She always gave them the credit! She looks like the hero, and the credit she gives them goes against my numbers and I still end up on progressive action.”
If you want your employees to hear your feedback, be sure you’re following your own standards. If there are reasons you make exceptions, clearly differentiate and explain the thought process, so that others can follow consistent parameters.
3. The ‘I don’t know how’ factor
“My manager says I need to be more strategic. That sounds awesome. I’m all for that. But what does that mean? How do I do that?”
Be sure your feedback is specific and actionable. Explain what success looks like in terms of specific behaviours.
Related article: Do You Ask For Feedback Or Avoid Them?
4. The ‘I disagree’ factor
“My supervisor keeps asking me to do this, but I just don’t think that it is right. It’s going to have a negative impact on my customers. I’ve tried to explain my concerns, but she just keeps citing policy, and that this decision is above my pay grade. ”
Sure, we all have to implement policies we may not agree with, the important factor here is to really listen to the concerns and explain why. Just shutting down the conversation may lead to compliance, but not always. And it certainly won’t lead to commitment.
Most employees want to do a good job. If your feedback is being ignored, dig deeper to get to the root cause.
Your turn. Why do you think feedback is ignored?
Karin Hurt is a keynote speaker, leadership consultant, and MBA professor. She has decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR which she uses to help clients turn around results through deeper engagement. She knows the stillness of a yogi, the reflection of a marathoner, and the joy of being a mum raising emerging leaders. To engage with Karin, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.