Is Your Organization Guilty of Feedback Famine?
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Effective, strategic feedback is one of the most powerful performance tools a manager has, yet so many employees grumble about being starved for feedback and information. Lack of performance feedback is one of the most common complaints organizations, and managers, face. And not only big organizations.
Basically, feedback is the information every employee needs to be truly effective. It answers some critical questions that keep employees engaged and motivated: How does my job contribute to organization mission and vision? What are my goals? How is my performance being tracked? How do I best use my time and resources? What is my range of influence? What is the quality of my relationship with my peers, manager, senior leaders, and clients?
If an employee can’t answer these questions – or a manager or senior leader can’t address these questions about each employee – there’s definitely a problem. Lack of feedback can leave employees feeling frustrated, confused, and with one foot out the door.
Here are 6 feedback tips to keep your direct reports informed and employee engagement up:
1. Feedback focuses on the what or how something was done, not the individual. With big, medium, and small-impact jobs, ask your employees, “What happened? How did it happen? What were the results? What steps can we take to have a better outcome? How could I have better guided you? What do you need from me?” These questions are all directed at the job and what needs to happen to make it better. Moreover, it’s implied that the employee isn’t out there on her own, instead she has a manager and organization backing her up, taking responsibility together.
2. Feedback must be consistent – across the board. Every manager has biases -- favorite employees, people she just doesn't get along with -- so it’s especially important to focus feedback on the job, the process, and the result. Take the person out of it.
3. Communicate! Feedback can’t happen unless you have a robust, strategic communication plan. Get good at listening, guiding conversations back to the point at hand, and managing communication. This takes skill and time. Teach this to your team! Communication is multi-directional, so everybody needs to learn effective communication skills
4. Feedback isn’t a one-time-a-year performance review, instead a daily conversation. It informs the work done by direct reports and enriches self-knowledge as well as skill sets. Whether it involves a quick check-in to see how things are going to something more formal – asking for a report – feedback should be an everyday occurrence.
5. Make feedback timely. Be smart – not giving it in the heat of the moment but also not waiting for the job to cool off so much that it’s hard to remember what you wanted to address. Set an alarm – a reminder – to give feedback to your team. Oftentimes days slip into weeks, months … and what you wanted to discuss gets lost in time.
6. Be sincere. Be candid. Be kind.
Communication is an art, and giving good, solid feedback is one of the greatest tools a manager has at her disposal. Own your opinions, your ideas, and maintain your integrity by keeping communication multi-directional. These strategies to providing effective feedback can strengthen employee engagement, providing your employees with opportunities to grow, learn, and improve.
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