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The perceived problem

I encounter many employers frustrated with at least some of their WorkCover claims.

They tell me the claim is the end result of management gripes that have accrued over time. Issues such as questionable sick leave, poor performance, poor relationships with coworkers and more.

The manager tried to address these and a WorkCover claim followed. Soon after relationships deteriorated.

This is not to say all WorkCover claims equal poor relations. But in this example, the manager perceives it to be a vessel to obstruct a management process.

The actual problem

There was a legitimate injury, but why was the worker compelled to pursue a claim?

Why did the claim come in immediately after a meeting with the manager?

The issue here is poor feedback – or no feedback – from the manager.

A potential solution

Get into “the feedback loop”.

Which player on the high school footy team gets the most attention from the coach? It’s the best player. They’re considered the most valuable member of the team. We equate feedback with value.

Many managers I’ve met only give feedback to employees in response to their shortcomings.

If we only give negative feedback, it becomes ineffective. To counter this we must give constant “supportive feedback”.

Constant feedback is much more effective than training in bulk. It shows employees you are “in the game with them”.

Think about learning to drive. Is it better to have a one hour lesson or 10 hours on the road with a coach by your side?

Fundamental rules of supportive feedback:

  1. Feedback must come from a place of caring about the employee and his or her success
  2. Let your employees know you have set a goal to give more feedback “in the moment” – don’t just start doing it out of the blue
  3. Keep it positive, especially when you first start doing it

80% of your feedback should be positive and should reinforce the behavior you want to see. The other 20% should not be negative, but should focus on improving performance.

Balance your positive and constructive messages and your feedback will be more effective. And it will be more sincere.

The end result

“Management gripes” transform into opportunities to improve. But you need runs on the board of your positive feedback.

These are lessons I learned from a book called Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work by Paul Marciano.