When we blame, we tend to blame what’s right in front of us, ignoring the iceberg of situational relevance beneath the surface. For example, you experience terrible wait service at a restaurant. At the end the meal you ask to speak to the manager, and proceed to vent your frustrations about the server’s incompetence. However, did you overlook the incompetence of the manager? Somebody, not the server, was responsible for hiring the server.
Perhaps the reason the service was poor was less due to the incompetence of the server, but a problem in the meal prep and kitchen line. Perhaps your expectations about the service are the problem. Should we expect the same level of service at T.G.I Fridays or Olive Garden that we would receive at Mirazur or Osteria Francescana?
In situations like these, the more constructive route would be giving feedback to the manager explaining why the service was bad and how it reflects upon the entire establishment. If the manager is unaware of the server’s performance, you may be providing insights to help the manager coach an employee. If the manager seems unfazed by your complaint and doesn’t take action to correct the situation, the server has no opportunity to learn or improve, which increases the probability of future disgruntled diners.
In life, constructive feedback is always in season and on the menu. How we serve up our feedback is as important as what we’re giving feedback on.