The Power of Feedback


You head to the doctor and complain you are not feeling well. The doctor sends you for a battery of tests. You return the following week and you sit back with the doctor to review results. Then you notice a few things circled in red on the report.

Now their feedback becomes more targeted. The discussion becomes more focused regarding your cholesterol being high. The questions begin to dive into what you eat, how you exercise (or not) and the doctor begins to map out what actions are causing these results. The next part of the discussion moves to specific strategies to create different outcomes.

Why Targeted Feedback?

I have created a similar approach when working with dealership teams to improve performance. I call it Targeted Feedback.

Over the years, I have seen various approaches for delivering feedback from dealership managers be it sales, service, BDC or from the owners themselves. Many of these styles are not garnering the results needed or expected. One common approach is the broad-brush approach to solving issues or what I call the ‘psychic approach’ to training.

This approach starts with the manager looking at certain results. Without any other information, they psychically understand the past (what happened), can predict the future and rush in shouting orders on how to fix the problem. I have a lot of issues with this approach.

First, it is an ego driven processes. The manager positions himself or herself as smarter than everyone else on the team. The mantra is: Be quiet, do what I say and all will be well. The team doesn’t ask questions, nods their heads and gets moving or else.

Secondly, the team was not prepared to receive the training. These “blast” sessions could happen in front of customers or in many cases it happens in the daily meeting where everyone is herded into a room to receive this feedback. They are expected somehow to apply the feedback as the manager has imagined and off the team goes, more confused but unwilling (out of fear) to ask questions from their manager.

Lastly and most importantly, some individuals are not sure if the feedback applies to them or not. In many cases the individuals who need to apply this feedback think the manager must be speaking about someone else. They leave thinking they are doing a good job and go to repeat the previous behavior.

The unfortunate thing is in many instances this experience will recur like clockwork each month. The results will never improve because the manager was only willing to tell the team what to do without coaching them to the desired results.

What exactly is Targeted Feedback?

The first step is going to assume your team has been trained correctly. You can follow my 8-Step Coaching Process I teach in our online “High Performing Team” online program, to make sure your team is prepared. Once you have reviewed your results, if you achieve your goals then make sure your team understands what they DID to achieve these results.

When you follow up and you see results have fallen short of your goals, you need to take stock of what happened without any emotional attachment. Review with your team what they did, so you can compare it to what was the expected behavior. Remember focus on specific actions. Actions cause results.

The $64,000 Question

When you are ready to sit with an individual or team, ask them this question. (It will be your new best training tool.)

“What do you remember from your training on how these tasks were to be performed?”

The answer to this question will fall into three different categories:

  1. They do not remember what to do. In this case, you will need to go back to the basics and retrain them as if they had never been trained.
  2. They remember part of what they should do. In this situation, you can anchor in what they did correctly and retrain them on the specific areas where they need to improve.
  3. They know what to do but did not do it. In this situation, you will have to see if there is another reason affecting performance. Maybe there is something going on in their personal life distracting their work. Then your targeted training can focus on this issue versus discussing the process they already know.

Do not forget to ask this question. It will help you keep your team’s attention on their needs versus just repeating what they need to do. This step makes you a much more effective teacher and trainer.

It’s the Manager’s Fault, Not the Team’s

Recently I trained a manager on how to use this approach.  He called me up after a few weeks of using it with his team. He shared the team’s results were better and he felt more connected to them. The biggest realization was his team’s failures were his fault. He had not been willing to coach them. He just talked AT them and complained. Now he felt more involved and responsible for the team’s success.

Targeted Feedback should become a new tool for your approach working with your team. It is time to work individuals and remove the broad-brush way of trying to get results. Your team will thank you and so will your bottom line.

If I can ever be of service let me know. If you found this useful, please let me know how it helped your performance and please share the article with others. It would mean a great deal.