This article about employee feedback, orginally published November 2014, has been updated as of December 2016 to reflect newer statistics. To read more on employee feedback and performance, check out these articles:
- Deal with it: Employee Feedback for the Rest of Us
- 10 Mind-Blowing Statistics on Performance Reviews and Employee Engagement
- Annual Performance Reviews Are On Their Way Out
You might not be surprised to learn lack of communication contributes to about 80% of workplace issues. While giving and receiving feedback can at times be uncomfortable, when embraced and structured, feedback becomes one of the strongest processes in driving success, productivity and collaboration. We’ve all been on the frustrating and demoralizing end of poor feedback practices, so let’s talk about how to get it right. Here are the 5 essential components of effective feedback at work:
Feedback Must be Timely
First on the list for good reason - timely feedback is effective feedback. I don’t mean waiting until that meeting, waiting for that review, I mean right now. No matter what type of feedback you’ve got on your mind, what good is it going to do later on down the road?
If your feedback is positive, waiting to recognize workers can leave them feeling as though their hard work has gone unnoticed, demotivating them. If your feedback is aimed at addressing an issue, timeliness is essential in ensuring that poor work doesn’t cause roadblocks or duplicate work. Employees need this information immediately; 75% of employees prefer to get their feedback ASAP.
2016 Statistic: 80% of Gen Y said they prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews.
Feedback Must be Two-Way
Leaders have to start realizing they need employee feedback just as much as employees need theirs. For starters, a real dialogue is far more engaging than a one-way conversation. Employees also feel empowered when they are encouraged to speak up. Additionally, much of workplace dissatisfaction is associated with supervisors’ unwillingness to listen to their workers. In fact, 35% of workers surveyed said their boss only sometimes, or never listens to their work-related issues.
2016 Statistic: 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.
You probably don’t have to imagine how frustrating that is, because you’ve likely experienced the feeling of having a supervisor who won’t listen. Listening to employees is a simple and effective way to empower them and prove their value to the organization.
Feedback Must be Goal-Related
Very often, reviews will be structured like this:
Step 1) You’re doing this well.
Step 2) You’re not doing this well.
This is what we call automatic, canned or generic feedback. It’s doing nothing in the way of helping employees reach their professional or organizational goals. Each success and issue need to relate back to specific goals.
For instance, telling an employee they are weak in customer service, is not as effective as telling them their customer service scores have decreased by 5%. This specific information lets the employee know where they stand, objectively. This will also help leaders set and track goals for performance like, “How can I help you raise your customer service scores by 10% in the next 60 days?” These specific goals can now be optimally facilitated, documented and revisited.
Feedback Must Include Praise
Did you know 39% of employees don’t feel appreciated at work? Feedback is not synonymous with criticism; it’s not even synonymous with constructive criticism. Workplace and performance issues are just one area that your feedback should address. Remember to offer praise, say thank you and notice a job well done. A good mixture of career planning, constructive criticism and praise will keep everyone moving forward together.
2016 Statistic: One in five employees are not confident their manager will provide regular, constructive feedback.
Feedback Must be Continuous
I’ll spare you another statistic on the rising cost of employee turnover, but what you should know is companies that implement regular feedback boast a 14.9% lower turnover rate. That amount of reduction in turnover will have a positive impact on the bottom line in any organization, at any level. So how continuous are we talking here?
There is no cut and dry answer, but what we do know is quarterly reviews aren’t cutting it. Our current standards have 65% of employees wanting more feedback. A great barometer for the effect of continuous feedback is employee engagement. 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week. That may sound like a lot, but not every feedback session needs to be a full on review.
Feedback can build professional relationships, increase engagement and drive performance, but it has to be implemented strategically and thoughtfully. Focusing on the negative with sporadic feedback is understandably frustrating for employees and counterproductive for leaders and employers. Get feedback right with these 5 simple tips.
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