Feedback mirrors to us how our environment perceives our actions or behaviour. We may not notice it but in reality feedback happens almost all of the time. Consciously or unconsciously we express opinions as we engage in a conversation without really having a conscious thought of what we want to accomplish.
Giving an honest opinion, expressing a critique, and verbalising unmet exceptions are usually labelled as criticism and are often perceived as personal attacks that sometimes result in disappointments and broken relationships. This is an all-too-common experience among employees who are rated through annual performance evaluations. But well-thought-through feedback, packaged in an honest, in-depth conversation and one that aims for development can improve employees’ performance, minimise workplace stress and increase an organisation’s productivity.
According to research, companies that avoid challenging conversations are twice more likely to decline in productivity that those which do. Those that make feedback part of their business culture become top performers. Research sponsored by educational institutions also reveals that well-thought-through feedback is more effective in bringing about improvement in performance among students than just giving instructions, generous praise, and attractive rewards.
An effective feedback is really a reflective feedback. It’s not just a matter of having the authority and the courage to air observations and being outright honest. It is a skill that can be honed through practice and involves prudence, sensibility, and creativity. Just giving feedback without the goal to encourage growth and bring about improvement is like criticising. Without this capacity, the other party will leave the conversation feeling rejected, discouraged, defensive and angry.
In what specific ways does effective feedback improve productivity?
Developing a feedback culture creates a safe environment for mutually-beneficial relationships to thrive because there is a space for honest dialogue. Parties involved have opportunities to reflect on the process without defending themselves, arguing over the matter, or even evading issues at hand. Consequently, unmet needs come out in the open,the flow of invaluable insights into the real issues and problems the workforce regularly encounters is maintained, and expectations are properly communicated. This atmosphere encourages better performance and positive attitudes, and lessens the occurrence of miscommunications. It also empowers the organisation to be proactive and effective in addressing unmet needs.
Timely and regular feedback prevents everyone across the organisation from missing out on opportunities for skill enhancement, personal growth and improvement of performance. Problems are addressed as soon as they are detected. Behaviours are either praised or corrected early. Delayed positive feedback is not as effective and a reward that is given right after a successful performance.
Effective feedback provides specific, clear and concrete information that can be acted upon. It is goal-focused and produces a clear understanding of workplace expectations. It keeps people motivated to do better and gives them a clear vision of their destination. This is in contrast to general comments and praise such as, “That was great!” or “You did well.” which just ring a bell and do not specifically state what, why and what still needs to be done to do even better.
Giving feedback provides the opportunity to evaluate performance against pre-established goals and standards. Specific feedback, that spotlights weaknesses as well as strengths, serves as a tool by which employees can track their progress and through which they are informed how their performance benefits the company in general. This kind of interaction sends a message to employees that they are valued and their performance matters a lot to the company. It inspires those who are already achievers to perform more and encourages low performers to improve. Feedback of this kind can also serve as a foundation to establishing new and even higher standards of performance for future evaluation.
Feedback in top performing organisations does not come from one direction. Such organisations purposely ask for feedback from employees and their clientele to improve their products and services. The information gained is given as much weight as that which comes from management. Giving room for employees’ feedback is like giving space for a realistic assessment of the organisation’s goals and the perceived process of achieving them. It allows workers’ insights and assessment to be incorporated into the organisation’s road map. Awareness of how their work and inputs contribute to the company’s goal achievement strengthens employees’ commitment, deepens their engagement and inspires them to do better.
Effective feedback is not complicated. It neithert creates confusion nor overwhelms. It is simple but meaningful and compatible with the recipients’ existing knowledge. Everyone across the organisation can understand and connect to it.
To learn more about effective feedback and the benefits that it can bring to your business or team, contact the Australian Institute of Professional Coaches on 1300 309 360 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to speaking with you soon.