Effective “Checkout”: Why Feedback Delivery Matters

Effective “Checkout”: Why Feedback Delivery Matters

By Joe Gilligan

Summary Points:
• Give regular feedback – like daily, and don’t wait for formal performance discussions.
• Be specific, and focus on the matters at hand. Whether positive or constructive, specificity is key.
• Performance is co-created, so invite them into the conversation. They probably know what’s up if you’re not happy with performance, so give them a chance to be self-accountable first.

The Checkout Scenario

When we go into a store and are at the point of making a transaction and checking out our items, we expect a certain tone and respect from the cashier who is checking us out. If the cashier were rude or question your shopping choices, you might feel thrown off, or maybe even question the legitimacy of the store you chose. Maybe this sort of interaction even leads to defensiveness from both parties, leading to an argument. You might leave the store without your items, choose to avoid the cashier at all costs when you return, or maybe never return at all.

Why Feedback Delivery Matters

Feedback that employees receive from their direct supervisors can be compared to this checkout scenario. Feedback delivery is one of the most integral aspects of employee development – if it is not done effectively, there is likely to be stress and dissatisfaction felt by all parties involved. This is something that high-level managers and supervisors in organizations often fail to recognize. We cannot rely on an annual performance review to give feedback to employees anymore – put simply, today’s workers are not satisfied with this traditional method. It is outdated and is far too slow of a feedback loop to be effective.

Some reasons that feedback and the way that is it given are so important include:

  • 39% of employees report not feeling appreciated at work.
  • There is a 14.9% lower turnover rate in companies that implement regular employee feedback.
  • 98% of employees will fail to be engaged when managers give little or no feedback.
  • 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.

As a result, we need to give feedback fluidly and as things happen, and with this in mind, we need to also recognize that there are effective – and ineffective – ways to do it.

What Is “Bad” Feedback Delivery?

I can give an example of bad (Laura wants me to say ineffective, but it was bad for me) feedback delivery from my own experience. Following my graduation with my master’s degree from the University of Central Florida, I interned for a major hotel and timeshare company. My supervisor – let’s call her Lisa – was not happy with my performance. I had been late to work several times, due to the fact that my old 1999 Volkswagen Jetta was nearing the end of its lifespan and would literally die in the middle of the road while driving. It was getting to the point that this was becoming an issue – one that we had spoken about several times. She called me into her office to discuss something, and I already knew what was coming – it wasn’t a surprise. This is what I had come to expect when I came into work. I breathed a heavy sigh as I slumped into the chair across from her desk – and the onslaught began. It was clear she didn’t like me, and the whole conversation felt like it was more about me and my character than the issue at hand. She knew my issue and I was doing what I could to make up for it, like staying late if I came in late because of my car. But it started to affect her perception of me in other ways – she began to doubt my competence overall, even though I was praised and complimented for other work that I had done well.

This was a letdown. What started as a conversation about a “performance issue” – which I even felt was debatable in and of itself – seemed to be turning into a personal attack. I was told I’d be “better off in different types of roles,” and that I was tarnishing my personal brand. What sounded like a bad movie line struck a chord with me; I felt myself getting defensive, and after leaving the conversation, I brushed off anything and everything she said. I did not take her seriously, as I truly felt she simply didn’t like me.

Now, not all of my feedback experiences have been like this. Take, for example, my experience working as an assistant to one of the Vice Presidents during my time at the University of Central Florida (UCF). This supervisor treated me as a colleague, and offered me both positive and constructive feedback on an almost daily basis. She handled our conversations in a very professional manner and was always sure to ask for my input on things. It felt more like a conversation about development as opposed to a personal attack, and no doubt, this helped me to succeed in my role. I was able to push initiatives forward working for her because I had confidence in what I was doing and passion for the role as a result of the high level of rapport we had established while working together.

Feedback Drives the Outcome of a Situation

These two contrasting experiences only demonstrate at a very simple face value how even the manner in which feedback is delivered can drastically influence several different outcomes. However, the manner in which it is delivered isn’t the only thing we need to take into consideration – we also need to consider timing, follow-up, and other factors. However, this serves the purpose of demonstrating just how important feedback delivery is – just like the cashier that provides the customer service experience that is expected, not the one that fails to meet expectations and leaves customers (employees) disappointed.


Joe Gilligan – Senior Recruitment & Assessment Analyst

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