Telling people they aren’t doing a good job can be really uncomfortable, but you have to do it when someone is failing to meet your expectations. It helps your practice, your staff and the person getting the feedback.
It takes some practice to get used to delivering tough feedback. I’ve gotten pretty good at it, but I had one lesson I had to learn that I want to share with you because I see a lot of people do it.
Avoid the “But Sandwich”.
Here’s an example:
“We really value the work you do. You do a great job training other staff members and the patients love you, but your tardiness and attendance issues have become a problem. I need you to not miss any more work and be sure to be on time, but great work with the staff and patients.”
The person getting the feedback heard they do a great job and could be even better if they came to work on time. They did not hear the message that they are being disciplined for attendance issues.
I get it. I used to do this all the time and then I would be frustrated when the situation didn’t improve. I wanted the person to know they were still valued and did a lot of things great, but my message was lost.
When I asked someone for feedback on my leadership, I learned about the “but sandwich” and that I was undermining my own messages.
Now that I have learned what I was doing wrong, I have much more meaningful conversations with staff members. The example above looks a little bit more like this:
“In the last 3 weeks you have been out for 4 unscheduled days and have been late 3 times. We really need you to be here when scheduled, otherwise it causes other people to have to pick up your work load and patients wait longer to be seen and we can’t deliver the excellent service we want to give all patients. I need you to commit to being here and on time for all scheduled shifts. Can I count on your for that or is there anything I can do to help you make sure you are here when scheduled?”
Pay attention the next time you deliver a difficult message and see if you are guilty of the “but sandwich”. If so, start practicing and you will get more comfortable in no time!