“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft Corporation
When employees and managers think about feedback in the workplace, what do you think comes to mind?
Annual performance reviews? The arduous task of HR formality pieces? The tough or uncomfortable conversations you have to have as a manager when an employee asks for a raise? You’ve mustered up the courage to ask for feedback from your manager and all you get is a “no feedback I can think of, you’re doing great”?
Despite feedback being the number one driver for professional growth and development, it is still rarely or hesitantly given outside of the usual required and expected occurrences, such as annual performance reviews. Forbes reported that 65% of employees want more feedback. Similarly, Gallup found that millennials want feedback, but are too nervous to ask.
So, if feedback really is a perfect tool for growth and development that is being requested for more frequently by employees themselves, what is it about giving and receiving feedback that many companies find challenging?
Why Effective Feedback in the Workplace Matters
- It improves employee engagement and motivation
- It improves workplace relationships and the work environment
- It gives people a sense of purpose and promotes personal and professional growth
In today’s business world, industry titans are usually those that make their cultures of exchanging open and honest feedback known. For example, Netflix has the term “feedback” mentioned no less than 11 times on their Netflix Culture recruiting page. It’s not just big companies making a name for themselves because of their cultures centered on feedback. ProofHub is a startup that made it to Forbes’ list of ‘America’s Best Startup Employers 2021’ because they were recognized for their workplace environment which focuses on feedback and asking their employees questions to get to know them better, think from their point of view, and anticipate their needs in a better way.
By shifting away from processes and focusing more on their people, companies are fostering and appreciating collaborative, supportive, and trust-based workplace communities that, in turn, is also helping them to become as high-performing as they are.
A plethora of research reveals that prioritizing the exchange of feedback in the workplace can result in a whole host of benefits. ‘Taking Feedback to the Bottom Line’ illustrates Gallup’s research involving 200,000 employees across 36 companies, showing how engagement drives real business outcomes. What they learned was that employee recognition and encouragement via the giving and receiving of feedback freely in the workplace tends to leave employees feeling more satisfied, which leads to a nearly 300% performance increase, fewer absences, and longer tenure!
While every practice might not be the right fit for your employees and your company’s culture, tailored and thoughtful feedback approaches can kickstart your culture shifting to a more communicative one. Communicative workplace cultures have a significant impact on employees’ experience, motivation, engagement, and overall business success.
Here are our 5 Tips for more Effective Feedback:
1. DO encourage the giving and receiving of feedback frequently – The giving of feedback to employees should not be reserved for just their annual performance review or right when a situation is about to implode. Consistent feedback is essential for the learning and developing of employees. As a team lead or supervisor, the more you interact and exchange with your team members, the more likely you are to be able to positively impact employees’ satisfaction and growth in their roles. By giving frequent feedback, you can also adjust your
coaching methods by the responses being given to you in return. It’s also worth noting that these consistent check-ins don’t always have to be work-related.
Communicate with your company members regularly, commit to a cadence and stick to it, (whether that is weekly, monthly, etc.), even if you’re discussing personal matters, this will help establish a more supportive environment and to encourage continuous development as a team.
2. DON’T be afraid to provide critical feedback – For many, delivering constructive criticism can be associated with stress and anxiety because the thought of discussing poor job performance with another member can be awkward or uncomfortable. This does not have to be the case. When delivered successfully, critical feedback can facilitate positive change in performance or behavior.
By adopting a culture where failure is embraced for organizational success, there is an understanding by all that processes are more valued than end results themselves. By doing so, not only are you minimizing the tension felt by all when failure inevitably tends to occur, you are also minimizing the number of failures made over time as company members work harder towards following the critical feedback that is being given to them in this manner because they feel cared for. This helps team members become happier with one another, build stronger relationships, be more productive, and encourages everyone in the team to do their best work, without the fear of failure. Find a feedback communication style that best suits your members.
At Wejungo, feedback is given clearly and directly, while still maintaining diplomacy. This creates a shared growth-mindset amongst team members. Feedback is communicated because team members want to see their fellow members grow, develop, and improve. Another way in which a culture of embracing failures can be manifested is, if failure does occur, to give company members the opportunity to self-evaluate and reflect on what went wrong, allowing them to create their own self-realization to absorb. Using this self-evaluation plus feedback from management, company members could collaborate with management in the designing of their own training plans that target the areas where required growth and change is needed.
Many employers make the mistake of implementing company-wide learning and development without considering employees’ individual needs. Ask company members directly what it is that they need to do their job better, make their work life easier, or what will help them to feel more satisfied in their role. Set employees up for success by helping them feel like they are ‘steering their own ship.’
3. DON’T confuse feedback with micromanaging – Micromanagement occurs when a leader’s relationships with their team lacks trust and support. Frankly, that lack of trust and support happens because the leader does not know their team, and vice versa. Alternatively, over-communication from a well-meaning leader can make team members feel like they’re being constantly evaluated with little to no support or advice on how to actively achieve desired success in between.
A balance must be struck between autonomy and the frequent feedback/support. For example, in order to tailor feedback/support to the employees’ preferred method of receiving, create a process that allows them to share their ideas during team meetings and next steps to follow up on it. Another example would be to make sure to articulate the purpose of meetings when feedback will be given. It’s then clear to the employees that you intend to provide feedback/support at the predetermined times, but you are also leaving them room to work autonomously the rest of the time, without feeling stifled.
4. DO provide your employees with additional resources – A lot of the time, employee feedback is given to address skill gaps and how best to bridge these gaps. Instead of just pointing out to employees where they appear to be falling short, skills-wise, follow up the feedback by asking employees themselves what they would like to improve upon and how, and also by providing them with resources that can help them to improve upon said skills. This also does not mean that every feedback session has to be an expensive one. You don’t have to associate giving constructive feedback with also having to shell out money on things like elaborate training programs as a trade-off.
Something as simple as taking the time to curate learning content from free sources, such as LinkedIn or YouTube, to follow up your feedback with shows your employees that you not only want to help them to develop and succeed but that you are dedicated to helping provide ways for them to be able to do so as well. In LinkedIn’s ‘2021 Workplace Learning Report,’ results stated that 94% of employee participants said that they would stay at a company longer if they simply showed that they were invested in wanting to help them learn.
5. DO ask for feedback, too – Find out how your employees feel about your feedback or how they personally think your feedback can be made more effective for them by asking them for feedback on YOU. With feedback, the Golden Rule likely won’t be effective, but the Platinum Rule will, “treat others the way THEY want to be treated” because the way you personally like to receive feedback may differ from your colleague or direct report.
Turn feedback into a two-way conversation that wouldn’t happen otherwise. There are a number of feedback tools available that let employees share their thoughts with you anytime, with an option for anonymity. For example, Officevibe is one such free tool that, alongside the use of surveys, provides an anonymous channel that allows honest employee feedback to occur.
How much focus does your company currently place on feedback?
How often do you give or receive feedback?
This blog post was written by Noor Irfan, Talent Strategy Coordinator at Wejungo