How to Create A Feedback System & Culture in Your Practice

It doesn’t matter if you call it feedback, constructive criticism or being honest, the delivery verbiage can make a difference to how it is accepted and then applied to the specific task.  There are many schools of thought on methods and verbiage for delivering feedback (my favorite word for it.)

Having systems in place to deliver feedback for your team will determine the success for positive outcomes from these discussions.

I want to explore these today and you may want to change your next conversation around feedback.

Many people favour delivering the compliment sandwich. This is when you provide a compliment first, then your feedback and then another compliment. This method used to be the gold standard of delivery; more recent business management theory has found that this “sandwich” is very ineffective. The reason behind this is the first compliment will puff up the team members ego and while you are delivering the “meat of the sandwich” the team member is not taking in all of the details because they are still praising themselves over your complimentary first words. They may catch some of the last few sentences prior to you jumping into the final compliment of the “sandwich” which will once again puff up their ego and they will likely lose everything that was in the middle.

Some people prefer to provide feedback on a daily basis as they feel that it is necessary to moving their office forward. The issue with this method of delivery is very often it is delivered in the heat of the moment without thought being given to the verbiage. This can often be hurtful and not helpful to the team member moving forward. If your team is always worried that feedback could be heaped on them at any moment it will create a very stressful atmosphere.

Another way that feedback is delivered is once a year at a performance review. This allows for planning with verbiage but is very often lost if the scenario happened six months ago, or the situation may have been forgotten completely and no feedback was provided at all on a topic when it should have been.

If you are providing feedback you always want to ensure that the examples you as the owner/manager are setting are at the same level, you are expecting of your team. If you aren’t “walking the walk,” then don’t expect your team to be either. You can’t have a double standard in your office and expect your team to be respectful of your feedback. 

Depending on the size of a team, my suggestion would be to schedule regular “one on one” meetings to provide feedback and compliments as well as goals moving forward for anything that needs changing. To provide feedback and compliments at a “one on one” meeting each person would complete a form with areas where they felt that they were doing well and areas where they thought they could improve. As the manager you would do the same with specific detailed examples of what was going well and what wasn’t going as expected. 

The flip side to delivering feedback is teaching your team in how to receive feedback. Many people look at feedback as criticism only and will close their minds as no one wants to hear what they are doing wrong. Creating an environment where feedback can be a discussion with questions and answers instead of a lecture is important to promoting a positive team culture. Teaching your team to listen to the feedback, ask questions and then reflect on it will help make the experience positive on both sides. Also, after delivering feedback mark a date to check back in and see how it is going, if the feedback has been incorporated then ensure that you provide positive support that there has been a change. You will find the more positive support you provide for changes from feedback the less you will have to provide feedback at all.  

Feedback can be a messy task that you can either avoid completely or it can be a useful method of collaboration in your office. Feeding a positive culture is always the choice you want to make. Your response and feedback to any event will pave the path for either a positive or negative outcome.

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