Try Delivering Difficult Feedback From A Lunch Menu

Try Delivering Difficult Feedback From A Lunch Menu

**Delivering difficult feedback is just what it says, difficult.**

Difficult feedback can be delivered by taking after an old favorite lunch menu item, the BLT sandwich, as your delivery model.

The BLT method of delivering difficult feedback is a simple rule-of-thumb on how to deliver difficult conversations.

## Every BLT, Starts with Bread

All great sandwiches are made from quality bread and a rich layer of butter, mayo, mustard, or awesome spread.  A great spread makes the bread easier to swallow.  Nothing imitation works when making a good BLT.

* To start the difficult feedback tell the employee something you respect and admire about them at work. There is always something good about that person, even if you have to go back to why they were hired in the first place.
* The admiration and respect feedback will prepare you to circle back to this statement or ones similar.  Your goal is to not ruin a person’s self-esteem, it is to help them move on or make new choices.
* Often difficult feedback is delivered bluntly and almost angrily.  This is because often the deliverer is as uncomfortable as the receiver.  We can change that by starting difficult feedback the right way; _start with the good bread and spread_.

## B stands for BEHAVIOR

This is when we move on to the bacon or in this method, the Behavior: clearly identify the behavior that must be stopped (or started).

* Make sure you can describe the behavior through policy. Using policy takes the “it’s personal” part out of the equation and helps employees sort out what you really want them to know.
* Example: “Yesterday our IT flagged 40 separate logins to Craigslist; it is against company policy to spend personal computer time while on work time. Using personal time during work is considered theft according to our policy manuals.”
* Then tell the employee what behavior you expect from them. “From this point forward, you are not to login to any external website for personal use, even on lunch hour, our computers are set up to flag individuals using company equipment for personal use. If your computer is flagged again, you will be placed on probation.”

## L stands for LISTEN

Expect denial, backpedaling and excuses from employees after delivering difficult feedback. **Don’t accept the excuses, just expect them**.

In order to make sure they get the message you are delivering first ask them to tell you:

* What they heard you say.  If they did not hear you correctly, you can now go back over the Behavior part of the delivery.
* Be prepared for coaching, _you_ knew this conversation was coming – they may or may not have have. Mostly the receiver is not prepared and will need to process the information you gave them.
* Many people will look for a way to save face.
* Once the excuses are heard, bring them back to making sure they heard you and understand you.

Expect denial, backpedaling and excuses from employees after delivering difficult feedback. Don’t accept the excuses, just expect them.

## T Stands for TARGET

Now that the employee is clear on the difficult feedback it is time to Target the improvements that need to happen. Be specific and actionable; use [S.M.A.R.T.](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria) goals to ensure they are VERY clear about your expectations.

S Specific
M Measurable
A Attainable
R Relevant
T Timely

## Finally we go back to the Bread

Full circle ensures you start and end at the same place; it provides for closure when you are finished delivering the difficult feedback.

* Add more spread; help this person know you are sincere. It also tells the employee that you care about their future with your company and you are there to help them succeed.
* Employees will judge you by your actions in both good times and bad. Handling the difficult feedback poorly may sabotage future productivity.

There are many ways to deliver difficult feedback, I have found this method to be the easiest to remember.

Don’t be put off, now that you have a tool, get in there and help that employee move into a better space with you and your company.  Above all, do it with CLASS.

Comments
  • Nicole Brown

    My favorite take away from this post is your emphasis on positive interactions! It is so true that actions both positive AND negative interactions are remembered and responded to, and positive interactions from managers ARE often rewarded with future productivity from employees.

    Such a great retention method applying this strategy to the BLT!!

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