When you must deliver criticism about one of your food truck employee’s work, it’s best to be direct rather than diplomatic. Avoid the all-too-common practice of mixing positive messages with negative ones. It’s confusing to the recipient. Steer clear of the classic feedback “sandwich”: good news, followed by bad news, ending with good news.
Eating a sandwich with good bread — but bad meat in the middle — isn’t too enjoyable. And while giving someone feedback in a considerate, contextualized, and balanced manner is good practice, you need to be very clear on the poor performance part or your message might get lost. It is often the most important aspect of a feedback session, so don’t make it muddled.
There are many people that advise that a food truck owners should give difficult feedback immediately, preferably within 24 hours of an incident. But next time you have to provide constructive criticism to one of your food truck staff members, consider sleeping on it first.
Your input will be far more effective, and better received, if you aren’t feeling agitated. Of course there will be items that need immediate discussion, but if the feedback doesn’t revolve around employee or customer safety put some distance between the offending action and the feedback to gain perspective. You may need to calm down over several days. This will give you time to prepare, consider the other’s point of view, and deliver the message in a calm and helpful way.
Never assume that the best members of your food truck staff knows how well they are preforming. Instead, use these three tips to give the superstars of your staff the feedback they want and deserve:
- Identify development areas. There may only be a few and you may need to work hard to identify and articulate them, but help your star understand what they can get better at.
- Show your appreciation. Failing to say thank you is a simple and common mistake. Your stars need feedback and praise just as much as everyone else.
- Provide feedback often. Don’t wait for review time. High performers thrive off feedback and it’s your job to give it frequently.
“What part of your job is the most unnecessary, dissatisfying, unproductive, or just plain dumb?” Ask this question of your employees and get ready for some fantastic feedback.
If you don’t ask, you may never know why good employees walk leave or why good customers don’t come back to your truck.
Will this turn into a gripe session? Is this a lesson in futility? Yes and no. Hopefully your employees will give some thought to their responses. And I know they will appreciate being asked. Your job is to turn the gripe session into a positive brainstorming session. Here’s how it works:
- Get a pack of index cards and print your question on each one. Distribute the cards to all employees at pre-shift briefings or put it in their pay envelope.
- Put a box in the truck or in your office (if you have one at the commercial kitchen) to collect the completed cards.
- Compile the responses into a top ten list — or twenty or thirty. You can combine similar answers, but don’t edit too much.
- Hold a team meeting to address the list. Distribute the copies to everyone, and have flip charts handy for note taking.
- Read the list at a pre-shift briefing or the next employee meeting. Allow team members to make comments and amendments to refine the problem. Remember, this is their exercise.
- Get a flip chart and start at the top of the list. Brainstorm ways that the problem can be fixed or eliminated. Take notes on the flip chart and encourage employees to think outside the box a little. They have valuable insights, and their suggestions will make their jobs easier and more productive. The end result will be happier employees and happier customers.
Your part of the exercise:
As a food truck owner, you can’t let yourself get defensive, dismiss suggestions or minimize complaints as irrelevant. Every idea is a good idea. Every complaint is a valid complaint. This will be harder than it sounds, but it will be worth the effort. You’ll start seeing results immediately.