Costco Staff and the Effects of Punitive Feedback

Posted on December 28, 2006. Filed under: Blog--All categories, Management development |

My husband and I were in Costco last night stocking up on snacks and supplies. As we were standing in the checkout line, our checker said to his co-worker “So, you got called into the office huh? How bad was it?” The man who had been “invited” into the office didn’t say anything, but the checker wouldn’t leave him alone about the visit. The checker kept saying things like: “They never call us in when it’s good news.” “Any time someone gets called into the office, you know it’s gonna be bad.” “It’s like they don’t even notice the good stuff we do.”

As though this conversation among staff wasn’t enough, the customers in line became part of the conversation. The woman in line in front of me related her own tales: “When I worked as a waitress, getting called into the office was the worst. You knew you were in trouble when that happened.” The conversation just kept going.

To the credit of the man who had visited the office, he never said a word about what had taken place. He just did his job and let the others talk.

So what’s the point with this blog entry? The point is this: employees in too many businesses rarely hear any praise for what they do well each and every shift. Instead, their interactions with the office are usually of the punitive variety. No wonder “management” is seen as the big green evil monster!

I know most managers are busy–too busy to do all their own work and too concerned with getting called into their own boss’s office. So the thought of adding “compliment” sessions to their already over loaded days is something most managers simply will not stomach.

But consider this: people work hard for managers they respect. How can managers earn the respect of their staff? By acknowledging their efforts, noticing when they go out of their way to get the job done, and interacting with them in positive, consistent ways. When managers understand the benefits of this sort of management style, they reap the benefits in that when they DO have to discipline someone that discipline is more often received as a growth opportunity as opposed to a spanking.

If you need some tips on how to give positive feedback to your staff click on the Articles link and read “Feedback: Good and Bad News.” Then send me your thoughts and questions about how to make positive feedback a part of your management strategy.

If you’ve been on the receiving end of receiving only punitive feedback, I’d like to hear how that affected your work and your work environment. Send me some comments!


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