Makarios Consulting Blog

The Cost of Avoiding Feedback at All Costs

No leader enjoys having a redirecting feedback conversation with an employee who is performing at a sub-par level. However, the lengths to which many leaders will go to avoid that conversation are nothing short of incredible.

We have seen time and again that leaders will:

  • Move the employee to another department, passing on the problem without ever confronting it.
  • Hire someone to do the work that is not getting done properly – adding thousands of dollars in unnecessary salary expenses to the bottom line.
  • Delegate the feedback conversation to another person … which never works.
  • Re-route the employee to report to somebody else, creating an organizational chart that resembles a tangled pile of spaghetti.
  • Shift the blame from the person’s performance to the system, the process, the team, the vendor, the client, or any other handy scapegoat.
  • Reassign some of the employee’s responsibilities to other team members, generating frustration, confusion, and resentment.
  • Live with constant stress, headaches, and irritation that affect the leader’s own well-being and performance.
  • Endure complaints and censure from superiors, peers, team members, vendors, and clients about the impact of the employee’s poor performance.
  • Hope the problem will go away on its own, week after week, month after month, and even year after year.

The mental gymnastics required to rationalize these avoidance tactics are extreme. However, what it all boils down to is a lack of leadership courage: leaders are often scared to death to have a tough conversation.

The irony is that giving feedback is nowhere near as painful as the outcomes of not giving feedback. Not giving feedback is a triple-lose situation. Leaders lose because they remain saddled with the continual stressor of unresolved poor performance. Employees lose because they are given no opportunity to better themselves. And the business loses because of decreased productivity coupled with, potentially, team dysfunction, lower revenue, higher expenses, and reputational damage.

The fact is, most redirecting feedback conversations go well if you follow some straightforward guidelines, detailed here. Employees may even respond with gratitude because they gain clarity on how to succeed in their roles.

The question, therefore, is “If one of your employees needs redirecting feedback, what lengths are you prepared to go to avoid having that conversation?”

The best answer you can give is, “None. I’ve got the courage and I’m going to have the conversation.”

That is the way to turn a terrible triple loss into an incredible triple win!