Feedback is an integral part of manager-employee relationship in progressive organizations. Feedback is a highly effective tool for better better performance management, increased employee engagement, and higher productivity for organizations.
Today, our workforce comprises of Gen-Y & Gen-Z employees who are looking for growth oriented, challenging, learning and development focused environment in an organization. The current workforce is self-aware and is not afraid to switch jobs for better opportunities if they feel not engaged and challenged enough with their current employer. This makes it difficult for organizations to retain employees for longer period.
Employee feedback has proven to be an effective and powerful tool and plays a pivotal role in retention of employees. Employees today are looking for constructive, timely and regular feedback from their managers to constantly learn, improve, contribute and upgrade their knowledge and skills. A recent survey suggests that, 96% of the millennials prefer daily or weekly feedback to a yearly one.
Feedback has often been synonymous with “yearly-appraisals” in most organizations. This is because most companies offer inputs for improvement to employees at the time of performance appraisal which is usually at the end of a financial year. However, the yearly feedback are rarely useful as they focus on the events in the past and the employee cannot correct or improve upon those.
Merriam-Webster defines ‘Feedback’ as “the transmission or evaluative or corrective information about an action or event, or process to the original controlling source”.
Although, most companies understand what feedback entails, they seldom consider it as a two-way street or deliver it in a timely manner. This means that feedback is rendered ineffective if not:
A study found that 96% of interviewed employees look for regular feedback than the yearly ones. That is why feedback to employees should be a continuous process rather than a year-end event.
“When feedback is included as part of regular, ongoing performance discussions throughout the year, the employee, the manager and the organization are all better off.”- Shawna McKnight
In any organization, employees spend most of their waking hours in the office or working for your company. Hence, most employees look to learn and grow professionally and personally within the organizational environment. To ensure that your employees are improving their performance and are engaged with the organization, they require a continuous feedback system.
Let us look at some reasons how a continuous feedback system will help your organization.
Whether you are a new joiner or have been a part of the organization for long time, getting an accurate picture of your performance on your own is difficult. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses; a continuous feedback system ensures that performance expectations are clarified as you go and not at the yearly performance appraisal.
Employee feedback is considered effective if employees are aware of both their strengths and weaknesses. And when employees understand that nothing is withheld from them, it creates an atmosphere of trust and transparency in the organization. When employees trust the organization, it builds strong and lasting teams and fulfills the psychological safety needs as defined in Maslow’s Hierarchy.
Constructive feedback is crucial to highlight and guide the performance of an employee, but praise is just as important. Feedback is not just about informing the employee about areas of improvement; it also includes appreciation for good work. In short, recognizing the efforts or good performance of an employee is also an effective way to give feedback and improve employee performance.
For organizations to really reap the benefits of continuous feedback they should ensure that feedback and communication is a two-way street. It means that both the employees and the managers can give and take feedback from the other(s). In-fact millennials today are looking to work with an organization that offers timely and continuous feedback. A recent survey found that 24% of employees are more likely to switch jobs if adequate feedback is not provided.
Profitability of an organization is directly dependent on its productivity. To ensure that your workforce is highly productive, timely and consistent feedback is essential. Feedback ensures that each employee remains motivated and highly productive. When employees are productive, the organization will be productive. And productive organization leads to greater profitability.
A recent study backs this theory and says, engaged employees are 21% highly productive and helps organizations achieve 22% greater profitability.
Regular employee feedback also improves the overall annual performance appraisal or review process and transforms it from being a negotiation exercise to development focused conversation.
We list here 5 effective ways to deliver positive feedback to your employees.
Employee feedback should be crystal clear, to the point and solution-oriented. Feedback should be specific to a problem, employee and based on past or present performance. Avoid vague comments like “you need to improve your performance” or “your reports are not good; you need to work on it”. Rather be more to the point in your feedback with what needs improvement.
Comment like “your sales are 10% lower in the past two months and you need to work on it” is more likely to help employees understand the gaps in their performance. When employees are aware of what needs improvement, they will strive to learn and improve their performance.
Employees today are smart; they are aware of their strengths, skills and their expectations from an organization. Ensure that you are not patronizing your employees with praises just for the sake of it. Such praise is easy to identify and may have a negative impact on employee morale.
Instead, be more genuine in your employee feedback and performance reviews. Be more sensitive towards how you deliver feedback with a level of empathy that show you care for your employees.
Companies today are focusing on making performance reviews a quarterly or bi-annual occurrence than an annual one. However, employee feedback should not wait to be delivered on quarterly review cycles.
Employee feedback is most effective when delivered right after an event or problem occurs in employee’s performance. If issues are left unaddressed for quarterly review, the issue may escalate multiple folds. Another problem when you wait for quarterly review to give feedback is that the problem may be forgotten and feedback will be in vain.
That is why, it is crucial to give employee feedback on a daily or weekly basis rather than wait for performance appraisal or reviews.
Organizations understand the importance of giving employee feedback. However, it is also as important to receive feedback for the managers and the organization. Feedback cannot be a monologue. Two-way communication should be an integral part of giving feedback.
The most important element of employee feedback is respect and empathy. You cannot effectively deliver a feedback if it does not give an opportunity to the employees to discuss it and share their view point. Ensure that when you deliver feedback to your employees, you let the receiver respond to your feedback and ask follow-up questions. When both the giver and receiver of the feedback are clear on the issue, it becomes 10X easier to resolve and improve.
Employee feedback if negative should never be given in public! However, make sure that the feedback is public when positive.
Feedback when given to highlight the gaps in employee’s performance should be done in a way that motivates the employee to learn and improve his or her performance. If such feedback is delivered publicly, it will have a negative impact on the employee. Highlighting the discrepancies in an employee’s performance can embarrass the employee in front of colleagues and demotivate them.
Employee feedback should also be based on the performance of an employee rather than his or her personality. Focus on a particular instance and behavior that an employee exhibited that caused an issue. Feedback should be “When you interrupt me in team meeting, it causes a problem” and not “your attitude is causing a problem”.
For the organization to grow and succeed, it is important that its employees are engaged and productive. Employee feedback is an essential element for the growth and development of employees and keeping them engaged and productive.