In theory, we are all very aware of how important feedback is. In practice, the sheer amount of work we need to get through on a daily basis often prevents us from thinking about delivering and requesting feedback from others. With the workplace undergoing more dramatic and turbulent changes, we are forced to reconsider the way we operate. With the increased expansion of the gig economy, and when remote work is slowly becoming more and more common everyday (with 16 percent of U.S. companies fully remote), we need to find ways to make our teams, both in-house and remote, engaged and motivated to stay for the long run.
One of the ways forward is feedback: companies that provide regular feedback see a 14.9 percent lower turnover rate. Let’s dive right in and explore how you should embrace feedback and make it a part of your company culture.
Why is feedback important for employees?
Let’s answer that question with a couple of powerful statistics:
- Managers who received feedback on their strengths showed 9 percent greater profitability
- 69 percent of employees would work harder if their efforts were being recognized
- 68 percent of employees who receive regular feedback feel fulfilled in their jobs.
In other words: in order to motivate your team and increase their productivity and motivation, feedback is crucial.
Also, let’s clear something up right away.
There are companies out there that are only looking to get the most of their employees and don’t actually care about their wellbeing and motivation. There are also companies that want their employees to feel valued and thrive. And there is also more than one kind of employee: those that want to give their best, those that just want to get paid and go home, those that would prefer to be left alone, etc.
The moral of the story is this: no matter which category of employee/employer you fall into, regular feedback will improve your work life, in one way or another, as it:
- Boosts employee engagement and productivity
- Provides clear goals and milestones, and enables employees to evaluate their own performance
- Allows employees to recognize their strengths and work on their weakest points
- Improves connections between employees and managers
Why is feedback important for managers and leaders?
When you are looking to improve employee performance, you should never forget about optimizing yourself as the manager. After all, your teams are not isolated islands that make their own unilateral decisions. They are a team you are leading, and this relationship needs to give as much as it takes if you hope to make it a successful one.
You may be trapped in a feeling of “providing feedback takes time and effort, and I’m not quite sure what to say”. While all of this might truly represent how you feel, when you look at the benefits you as a manager and team leader will tap into, you might want to reconsider the ROI of your time and effort put into feedback:
- You will know where each employee stands in terms of performance and goals
- You will be able to help your employees overcome the hard stuff
- You will learn more about your own performance and have the ability to improve
- You will have insider knowledge on future hires
Knowing your team inside out prepares you to combat any situation that arises. You will know who works best under pressure, who can come up with a creative idea in under 15 minutes, who can take on the next big project, and so on.
And knowing your team this well will also makes it much easier understand your team’s culture and hire strong fits.
How will company culture change when you start providing regular feedback?
Once you start listening to your employees and providing regular feedback, several things will happen in across your organization:
- You will establish a more positive company culture and atmosphere
- Your employee turnover will decrease
- Revenues will increase due to the boost in productivity and engagement
The thing about feedback and improved engagement is that it never fails to produce results, and is a great tool for combating the inevitable snags in the road every business will face in its lifetime.
What kinds of feedback do you need to establish?
There is more than one kind of feedback you need to incorporate into your company culture:
- Manager to team member
- Team member to team member
- Team member to manager
- Top level manager to lower level managers
Don’t make the mistake of thinking ‘feedback’ means telling your employees what they are doing well, and what they are doing wrong. Feedback should operate on multiple plains if you are to reap its fullest benefits.
Yes, managers need to provide feedback to their team members.
But team members also need to provide it to their fellow team members. This will establish better communication between them, help them get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and provide a whole new perspective on their work. After all, you only see results while team members see how they got there.
Never forget that you also need to ask for feedback from your team: and they need to feel they can be completely honest. Never make them feel bad or let alone punish them for criticizing any aspect of your work. You want to build trust with your employees and you can do so by 1) listening to their feedback and 2) taking action.
Finally, top level management should also provide feedback to the lower levels of management and let them know how their work is affecting the big picture.
To manage your schedule and track one-on-one meetings with employees of all levels, you can leverage workforce management software that will make the process a whole lot easier and much less time-consuming.
How to deliver positive feedback
Below are some quick tips on how to effectively deliver positive feedback:
- Be specific, so the person knows exactly what you are talking about
- Explain how the job well done fits into the bigger picture
- Make it known to more than just the person you are praising and give company-wide recognition
- Deliver feedback in real-time and as close to the time of achievement as possible
- Personalize your message and be thoughtful
- Mean it!
You should also make it a point to recognize the achievements of your team with rewards for a job well done. This does not have to be in the form of a pay raise or a monetary bonus; recognition and rewards can come in various formats such as social recognition or you can give employees points that they can accrue and later redeem for a reward of their personal choosing. Once you grasp a clear understanding of what motivates your team and how often they would prefer to receive and give feedback, you can come up with a system that works specifically for your workforce.
How to deliver negative feedback
And this is what you should bear in mind about negative feedback:
- Never do it in public
- Never do it over email if you can prevent it
- Do not pile it on
- Start with something positive
- Be precise and always give examples of how to improve
- Listen before you speak
- Never use it as a way to vent or punish someone
- Be prepared to be proved wrong and accept it
- Never let your emotions run away and remain calm
- Follow up
Never forget that people can take negative feedback very badly – it is your job to deliver it to the best of your ability and make sure the other person does not take it personally and like an attack on who they are. Write down what you want to say and memorize it, never look at a piece of paper during the conversation. Practice how you want to say things if you need to.
On a similar note, teach yourself how to deal with negative feedback, and lead by example.
Establishing a regular feedback routine will take time, effort, a lot of dedication, and getting used to. Expect some initial shock and even resistance from your employees. But once it becomes the norm, expect to see all of the positive side effects of feedback we have been discussing above. Good luck!
To learn more about the importance of employee feedback, access Achievers’ webinar recording, “Real-Time Recognition and Feedback: The Key to Driving Sustainable Engagement.”