When Clear Feedback Delivers No Change


Joe MullI was leading a half-day workshop for new healthcare managers at a practice group in the Midwest recently, when one of the participants, Marilyn, shared her frustration with how an underperforming direct report, Sue, was responding to feedback.

“Every time I address these issues with her,” Marilyn said, “Sue responds with deep anguish. She tells me how awful she feels, acknowledging that she knows she’s letting everyone down. She’s remorseful and apologetic, almost to the point of making herself a martyr. Then she goes out and…nothing changes..”

Despite multiple feedback conversations with Marilyn, Sue continues to show up late, not complete all of her responsibilities, and make errors along the way.

“She seems to genuinely feel badly, but I’m pretty fed up at this point,” Marilyn told me.

“Then it’s time,” I told her, “to stop discussing incidents and start discussing the pattern.” Continue reading