Whether leading a fully staffed farm or a family of five, overseeing an operation means being responsible for production and efficiency on a day-to-day basis. This includes providing direct feedback where and when it is needed, both positive and negative.

For those who may not be naturally inclined toward communicating in such a way, these interactions can feel challenging and uncomfortable. During an episode of the Professional Dairy Producers (PDP)’s “Dairy Signal” on the practice of “redirection feedback,” Liz Griffith of Liz Griffith Family Consulting suggested a set of adoptable skills managers may implement in deciding when and how to address employee performance.

Griffith began by acknowledging that many farmers “did not get into farming to manage people.” Successful farms, though, do not function without teamwork, and for any functional team, involved leadership can and does prove necessary.

Griffith defined redirection feedback as “an opportunity to provide coaching, teach, offer guidance, and give advice that will allow another person to improve their behavior.” An employer should use redirection feedback to strengthen the performance of and engagement with their team. It is a partnership, Griffith said, and a chance to show employees the impact of their actions on the larger scale. Feedback should be given consistently, too — not as a last resort, and not solely at a formal performance review.

Specific skills involved in redirection feedback according to the webinar include effective communication, empathy, and the ability to listen to hear, to offer guidance and advice, to both give and receive feedback, and to be a mentor. These skills do not develop immediately, Griffith pointed out. They are habits that must be practiced and implemented alongside consistent, intentional communication with the individual or team.

Griffith highlighted eight concrete steps to giving redirection feedback:

  1. Tell it like it is. Describe what’s happening and its impact in order to clearly and factually identify the problem.
  2. Give feedback immediately. Delaying confrontation will only result in your feedback being less effective.
  3. Focus on the facts, not the feelings. Address the problem, Griffith emphasized, not your frustrations. Communicating in an emotional state will, again, cause the feedback to be less effective.
  4. Give the lowdown of the outcome. Make sure the individual understands the connection between their behavior and the negative result. Give the reason behind why it matters and how it might affect them or the company as a whole.
  5. Give credit where credit is due. Show appreciation for the things they do right. Still “tell it like it is,” but balance negative with positive.
  6. Reiterate performance expectations. Don’t assume they know what they should be doing. Have you provided recent training for their task? Have all the expectations been thoroughly explained? Acknowledge you may need to take some responsibly for the ineffective execution of a task.
  7. Make it a two-way conversation. Be open-minded and listen to their perspective. There could be a larger issue contributing to their missteps. Make sure you are on the same page; then you can move toward a mutually beneficial solution.
  8. Use feedback as a means of change, not punishment. Correct the behavior, but don’t embarrass your employees.

Griffith offered the acronym B.I.G. for remembering all of this. It stands for behavior (what’s wrong); impact (why it matters); and get agreement (a solution).

“Your employees have some of the best ideas, because they’re in the trenches,” Griffith said.

Redirection feedback is a way to ensure these ideas and the energy behind them is properly acknowledged and celebrated. If an employee understands what not to do, they’ll be able to do the right thing that much more effectively. Dig deep, and work together toward achieving excellency.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2023
December 18, 2023
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