Just between you and me… how comfortable do you feel when providing feedback to your team members?
If you replied, “Very! I just spoke to one of my direct reports,” that’s terrific, and we’ll explain why later in this post.
If your answer was more to the tune of, “I try to avoid it. In fact, I start losing sleep weeks before annual performance reviews,” don’t worry; you’re far from alone.
In an online survey by The Harris Poll, 37% of adults who were employed managers said they were uncomfortable giving direct feedback about their employees’ performance. An even higher percentage--nearly 70%— reported that they felt uncomfortable communicating with their team members in general. But the truth is, if you or one of your managers avoids feedback due to feeling uncomfortable or ill-equipped, you may be missing the mark when it comes to organizational growth.
Frequent Feedback Fuels Your Employees
Studies have shown that quality feedback, provided often, leads to higher employee engagement, less turnover, and more profitability. Job fulfillment is increased for 68% of employees who consistently receive accurate feedback, even more so for Millennials at 72%. And the majority of employees—65%-- want more feedback than they are receiving.
In this post, we’ll cover three questions to ask yourself that will help you give your employees what they crave most.
1. Is Your Feedback Timely?
When a manager waits until an annual review to provide feedback, there’s a good chance everyone involved will have forgotten what actually happened. The opportunity to remedy the situation is slim, and employees can feel sucker punched by a leader who has said nothing about their performance all year only to unload a litany of complaints at review time.
What to Do: Research has shown that 80% of employees would rather receive in-the-moment feedback instead of hearing about it later during a performance review. Provide feedback as close in time to the event as reasonably possible, giving your team member a golden opportunity to improve.
2. Is Your Feedback Specific?
Effective feedback should be direct and specific, but telling someone directly and specifically what they did wrong or how they need to improve makes most people nervous. We’re afraid we’re going to hurt someone's feelings, or that they’ll get mad, or argue that we are wrong. Studies show, however, that even negative feedback is deemed helpful by employees, with 92% agreeing that they would rather hear appropriately delivered negative feedback over none at all.
What To Do: Before approaching your employee, spend time on the front end to get clear about what needs to change. Rather than feedback that sends vague messages like “do better”, “step it up”, or “improve your attitude”, use real-life situations and examples to express your point.
3. Does Your Feedback Describe the Desired Behavior?
In the Harris Poll survey mentioned above, nearly 20% of employed managers stated that they had difficulty giving their employees clear directions. If you can’t tell an employee what they should have done or the future behavior that is desired, there is very little opportunity for them to change for the better.
What to Do: Setting a standard for success is crucial. Try using the “Keep, Stop, Start” method by recognizing an underlying personal strength of your team member, identifying their problem behavior, and describing the positive actions they should take instead.
Feedback is intended to serve a purpose: to drive results. When done well, this type of frequent and authentic communication will become a healthy part of your organization’s culture. The best part (besides better sleep): you’ll benefit from satisfied employees who want to stay, can envision their future, and are committed to their jobs.
Do you or your managers struggle to provide the effective feedback needed to spur growth? If so, book a discovery call today; we can help.