The 60-Second Consultant

By Timothy Bentley

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Feedback Keeps Illegal Shop In Business

21 May 2019

by Timothy Bentley

In our neighbourhood, there’s a store that doesn’t have a license to operate. Recently, someone asked an employee whether the authorities had ever shut it down.

“Of course,” he calmly replied. “It happens all the time.”

“So what then?”

“Well, they escort our customers out, take our products away, and give us a fine.”

Responding to negative feedback

The thing that caught my attention about that exchange is that it appeared to be about negative feedback.

Feedback is supposed to encourage people to make better decisions and behave more effectively.

So the employee was asked how the owners react to negative feedback. “What do they do after the raids?”

“Simple. They open up again.”

What?

What’s confusing is that the proprietors receive negative feedback but ignore it. They re-open, knowing the same negative feedback will occur again and again.

That’s not how feedback is supposed to work.

But then, there’s one other piece of feedback I forgot to mention.

Every day, there’s a lineup to get into the store. Hundreds of customers show up each week, spend money, leave happy, and return again soon.

That’s positive feedback. And in the case of our neighbourhood business, it clearly outweighs the critical stuff.

Your environment

All of which may raise intriguing questions about your organization. For instance:

If a leader is rated critically by most employees, but receives regular bonuses, where’s the motivation for change?

If an employee is rated critically by vulnerable direct reports, but praised by a powerful supervisor, who is s/he going to try to please?

If a middle manager receives 360-degree feedback, but notices that senior executives are not subject to feedback at all, how seriously will s/he take the feedback?

Feedback is a complex process. To make it effective, it’s crucial to open our eyes to all the factors involved.

Otherwise, you can count on it, people behaving badly will just keep on doing it.

Timothy Bentley is Chief Operating Officer of Panoramic Feedback.