Beth Nilssen
June 15, 2023 / Great Advice

Moving beyond mistakes: The surprising impact of constructive feedback

Giving an employee feedback on their job performance can be a very good tool, properly defined and delivered. But this Great Clips franchisee says it’s only effective when employees are told why their actions are wrong and then given a plan for improvement.


Feedback is widely accepted in business as a way to recognize, change, or correct an employee’s performance. In a healthy workplace, giving and receiving feedback, even if negative, should be embraced because of the value it provides.


But here's a twist I’ve discovered in recent articles and from personal experience: Feedback, even if constructive, can hinder professional growth.


An article in Harvard Business Review highlights a Stanford University study that found a third of respondents felt feedback negatively affected their performance because dwelling on past mistakes made it difficult to focus on the future. As one participant lamented, "All you hear is how you screwed guidance for moving forward."


This resonated with me on a personal level. I have received evaluations in the past that solely highlighted my errors without providing guidance on how to improve in the future. Such feedback has not motivated me; in fact, it has had the opposite effect, often leaving me feeling discouraged to the point where I no longer had the desire to strive for improvement.


The right kind of feedback can be a lesson for the future

Rest assured, I am not so fragile that I cannot accept an honest evaluation of my work. In fact, I appreciate dissecting what went wrong so I can establish new strategies and goals for future performance.


I am fortunate to work for a company that values both candor and kindness, and I believe in the importance of bosses being direct in their assessment of employee performance. I wrote about this a few years ago—What kind of boss are you—too kind or too candid?—and referenced Kim Scott, the author of “Radical Candor—The Surprising Secret to Being a Good Boss,” in which she advocates for bosses to be forthright in assessing an employee’s performance:


“Focus on guidance. Giving it, receiving it, and encouraging it. Guidance, which is fundamentally just praise and criticism…is something most of us long for.”


How a hair salon franchisee gives feedback

An example of effective feedback implementation can be seen in the practices of Great Clips franchisee Jeff Lehman. As the owner of seven walk-in Great Clips salons in Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio, Jeff emphasizes the importance of providing direct feedback as a learning tool.


When employees make mistakes or behave inappropriately, they are not simply quoted from the handbook and informed of their violation. Instead, Lehman and his salon manager discuss the impact of their actions on the organization’s mission statement and the customer's comfort while in the salon. Together, they develop a plan to assist the employee in improving their performance.


Jeff believes that this approach establishes a foundation of trust with his employees, which includes both managers and stylists in his franchised hair salons. This trust is crucial in facilitating growth within the workplace.


“Great Clips is set up to be a manager-run franchise operation, so managers are hired to make decisions,” says Jeff. “I’m always available to answer questions and help solve problems, but I respect that they’re on the front lines.”


“I trust them to run the business. That trust is invaluable when I need to give feedback. They know I have their back.”


Do you find this blog to be a valuable resource for knowing what it’s like to be a Great Clips franchisee? Yes or no, give me your honest feedback!


And, if you want to know more about what it means to own a manager-run franchise business and how that impacts your role as “the boss,” give me a call. I’d love to talk to you.


Beth Nilssen

Director of Franchise Development | Great Clips, Inc.
800-947-1143 | [email protected]

Beth Nilssen By Beth Nilssen on June 15, 2023
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