Merge's Blog

Why (negative) feedback is so important (another leadership lesson from “Kitchen Nightmares”)

Last week I blogged about the season finale of Kitchen Nightmares in which host Chef Gordon Ramsay walked away from Samy and Amy Bouzaglo’s failing restaurant, ultimately unable to help them turn things around. Today, I want to reflect on that episode again, but this time with another lesson for leaders. First, watch these two clips from the show.

To give you some context (in case you didn’t watch the full episode yourself), it is very common for Amy’s food to be returned to the kitchen by unhappy customers. However, her husband Samy just sends the plates with the uneaten food directly to the dishwasher and never gives her the feedback about customer complaints. His reason: “Amy gets upset when people don’t like her food”! However as Ramsay correctly points out, unless Amy is made aware of the problem, she has no opportunity to fix it. In fact, Amy is blithely unaware that her cooking is awful; in fact at one point in the show she says “what I do is good, I don’t have people sending things back to me”!

So my question to you as a leader is this: are you giving your employees the feedback they need to improve their performance? If you never tell your employees what they are doing wrong, how will they know what they need to improve? Sometimes, we don’t give people negative feedback in an effort to be kind. But are we doing them a service or a disservice? Curious to hear your views on this subject. Please join the conversation!

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