7 Common Mistakes Managers Make When Giving Feedback to Cleaning Staff

Read Time: 6 mins

In the janitorial industry most of the work is done remotely, so it’s easy for your front line staff to feel that their efforts are being overlooked.

Giving constructive feedback is one of the most cost-effective ways to boost productivity and lower the risk of employee turnover. Yet only 58% of mangers think they give enough feedback! (Feedback Academy)

Photo cred: Feedback Academy

Photo cred: Feedback Academy

When you set some time aside to regularly focus on understanding the challenges they face on site and help them through it, it shows that you care about their personal and professional development and it will increase loyalty and engagement with you and your company. 

And when delivered the right way, feedback is actually desired.

So with all the benefits of giving constructive feedback, why don’t we do it more often?

In addition to being insanely busy, negative feedback also stresses most of us out.

Whether you’re giving or receiving it, it’s natural to avoid conflict. One important thing to remember, ignoring the problems won’t make them go away. 

Photo cred: Feedback Academy

Photo cred: Feedback Academy

Here are some of the common mistakes managers make when giving feedback, and new strategies you can use to avoid them: 

Mistake #1 - Doing All the Talking

When you’re sitting down with someone to give them feedback, put yourself in their shoes. How would you like to receive feedback? Would you rather your boss have his/her say and be done with it? Or would you prefer to be given the opportunity to explain the circumstances and reconstruct what you were thinking at the time? 

The more you listen, the better your employees think you are at giving feedback, and the more open they are to it. Your goal by addressing the issue is to find out what your employee is struggling with and see if you can help them with it.  

It may seem counter-intuitive, but next time you need to give feedback, get your staff to do most of the talking. After you’ve asked them what happened, give them the opportunity to reflect on what they might do differently next time and then offer them support, advice or, if needed, additional resources they’ll need to be successful.
 

Mistake # 2 - Threatening Their Authority

Let's say that you have to give feedback to one of your lead managers or site supervisors about the way they handled a situation with a client. It’s normal in this type of a scenario that they might feel like you’re threatening their authority. 

To avoid sounding like you are speaking down to them, encourage them to give feedback on themselves by asking questions like:

  • “What was the main concern you were trying to address?”
  • “What do you think caused the issue in the first place?”
  • “What outcome were you hoping for? Why do you, or don’t you, think it worked out that way in the end?”
  • “How would you recommend we address these situations in the future?”
     

Mistake #3 - becoming a Foe (Rather Than a Friend)

When you’re giving someone feedback they are trying to decide whether you are doing it as a friend, or as their foe.

We found especially when people are working remotely, that encouraging friendships between managers and cleaners can reduce this threat. Relating personally to the task at hand makes giving feedback sound more like advice from a trusted friend.

From a supervisor to a cleaner this might sound like, “ When I was in your shoes I struggled with that too. Next time you might want to try this, I found it helped me.” 


Mistake #4 - Making Them Feel Vulnerable

If people are not aware that they were doing anything wrong, feedback can be surprising and unsettling. Worst case scenario, it can make people feel very vulnerable and can even lead to fears of being demoted or losing their job.

To avoid this, focus less on what they might have done wrong, and more on what your ideal outcomes are.

Establish clear expectations at the beginning so if the same discussion is needed in the future you can refer back to the conversation where you discussed your goal outcomes.
 

Mistake #5 - Not Knowing the Facts

While there are a handful of common issues you and your managers will run into on a regular basis, remember that each situation is slightly different. This can make it tricky to be consistent.

Your cleaners will evaluate whether your feedback is fair or not based on the actions of other cleaners and the feedback you gave to them. To be fair, give feedback only based on facts, and avoid making assumptions or generalizations.


Mistake # 6 - Giving too Little, or too Much Feedback

Experts have found that giving too much feedback can overwhelm the person and actually be harmful to their ability to change. Unless there is an urgent issue you need to address, sitting down with someone to give them constructive feedback is most effective on a monthly basis.

This allows both of you to focus on habits you want to change, rather than focusing in on a particular event. Focusing on changing habits will have more impact on performance and helps you uncover other larger issues you might not have been aware of. 

Photo cred: Feedback Academy

Photo cred: Feedback Academy


Mistake #7 - Not Following Up

Corrective feedback is a powerful tool to engage and retain your staff, but it can lose impact if you fail to follow-up.

Like any good plan, if it’s all talk and no action, nothing will be achieved. By following up you show a genuine interest in helping that person overcome their challenges. As a leader, it’s your job to make sure your team feels supported at all times. 

At the end of your first feedback conversation with a cleaner, ask them if it’s okay for you to follow-up. It may sound something like: “I will check back with you next week to see how things are going. Would that help keep you on track?”  
 

Encourage feedback at all levels

Being open to giving and receiving feedback signals to your cleaners that you care about their success and want to help. It opens up the communication lines so that your team can work through problems together, fostering trust and boosting engagement. 

Often employees leave jobs for unresolved issues that employers didn’t even know about. Encouraging more feedback can help resolve issues sooner and retain your staff. Sometimes the hardest part of the conversation is starting it, so we hope these strategies will help make your feedback conversations more constructive! 

Have you used these strategies in the past? Have others to recommend? Let us know.