Your Employees Need Feedback

Feedback, if used well and on time, is a key tool for increasing productivity and for motivating employees.

Boss Giving Feedback to Employee
"If you have ideas and information that will help someone perform better; it's hostile not to share them."Anne Saunier
If we consider that today's business leaders expect workers to be project-driven, and results-oriented, the approach of many companies to give feedback once or twice a year is ineffective. Worse, in many cases, there is no feedback at all. Leaders have difficulty or no interest in highlighting their shortcomings, either because they do not know how to help them to improve, they fear their comments will have a negative impact, or because they assume employees are aware of their deficiencies and know what they must do to improve. Likewise, work today is more team-oriented which difficult to assess individual performance.
  During a TED talk, Bill Gates said, "We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve." He continued:
"When Melinda and I learned how little useful feedback most teachers get; we were blown away. Until recently, over 98 percent of teachers just got one word of feedback: satisfactory. If all my bridge coach ever told me was that I was 'satisfactory,' I would have no hope of ever getting better. How would I know who was the best? How would I know what I was doing differently?"

How to give good feedback?

Feedback is an ongoing discipline

One of the biggest complaints of employees has about the feedback they receive is that reviews take place too long after the performance being critiqued has occurred. If you really want people and processes around you to improve you cannot wait six months or a year to talk, you need to provide employees with feedback on a minute-by-minute basis. If the assessment is not done on time, there was no feedback.

A form won’t give the feedback your employees need

Every day there are more companies that implement evaluation processes and forms in order to document that an evaluation took place (for legal purposes), rather than using them as a tool to evaluate employees.

Don’t assume your peers realize you are giving them feedback

Some people can misinterpret your feedback and think is just a simple chat at work unless you build the right context. So that this does not happen to you start the conversation with something easy like: "Now, here's some feedback." You want the other person to be aware that you are giving them an assessment of their work. Otherwise, they will assume that you have not evaluated them, and they will continue to wait for your feedback. Similarly, promotions or salary increases do not count as feedback. Employees need to know what they did to earn it, and what they need to improve to keep moving up.

You either give positive or negative feedback, but you cannot mix them

Many leaders accepted mixing positive and negative feedback because they believe it will be assimilated easier by the person receiving them. They use what Roger Schwarz calls the sandwich approach, ie a negative review between two positive. If a person uses this technique, it means that it not giving feedback on time, as is waiting until he can make the sandwich. Different studies have demonstrated that positive or negative feedback has a better effect if you share it as quickly as possible. Likewise, it is likely that the positive feedback you use to reduce the weight of the negative feedback on the conversation appears not to be genuine.

Reward others publicly, but deliver criticism in private

Nobody wants to be humiliated in public, especially in front of their peers. Studies have shown that when leaders shame their employees, it has a major impact on the business. As pointed out by the research of Christine Porath and Christine Pearson published by HBR, over 50% of employees who feel they receive overly harsh criticism from their boss, decide intentionally to reduce their productivity.

Related: How to Engage and Retain Top Employees

Focus on being specific, positive, and useful, not on the mistake

Feedback is a great tool to create change; however, when there is only criticism it is useless. When you give feedback to someone tell them how they are making a difference. Let them know what you expect from them, and how they can improve. Help them to set a goal on which your employee or colleague can measure her or his progress on her or his shortcomings. For example, if you want someone to engage with the team, and participate more when they are brainstorming for a new product, telling her or him to talk more is not enough. Instead, tell them something, like “I know you, and I know your team could profit from your creativity and knowledge, so I want that in every meeting, you to share with your team at least 1 idea.

You cannot expect to improve if you do not tell them what is wrong

As stated by Karen May, vice president for people development at Google, it’s difficult to tell somebody that something isn’t working for them. However, people are incredibly grateful, especially if you tell them exactly what nobody else had told them before. When you criticize at the beginning, it might be painful to the other person, even so, you are giving them the opportunity to change and improve. Without your feedback, they will continue to commit the same errors, and behaviors repeatedly, without knowing there is something wrong.

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