Whether coaching supervisors on leadership skills or teaching employees to follow proper infection control procedures, the way in which feedback is offered can have an enormous impact on how it’s received and whether it’s implemented.
In “Constructive criticism that works,” author Heather Stringer outlines psychological techniques that “increase the odds that feedback will lead to change.” Many of the ideas presented in the article can be easily adapted to a long-term care setting.
Type of feedback
One important distinction is between “evaluative feedback,” which comments on already-completed tasks, and “directive feedback,” which focuses on improvements to be made in the future. Studies show that people often have difficulty understanding how to use evaluative feedback to improve future efforts.
To combat this, it’s suggested that conversations include a way to incorporate the comments being given. For instance, if a nursing supervisor is offered the criticism that they’d failed to tell a nurse some important information, the criticism will be more constructive if there’s discussion beyond “do this next time.”
More helpful would be a nonconfrontational exploration of why the information wasn’t delivered in the first place and a consideration of how to overcome the problem. The communication glitch could be because of a personal issue (prior conflict between the staff members, lack of organization skills, difficulty managing an intimidating personality, etc.), a practical obstacle (such as an emergency on the unit), or a systems problem (no direct means of contacting staff members, time pressures or burnout related to understaffing, etc.). Each obstacle requires a different solution or work-around to alter future handling of similar situations.