Blog Articles

4 Factors to Fuel Employee Feedback

Michael Gugel, CPO @ GoCo

by Michael Gugel, CPO @ GoCo - April 25th, 2016

Want to be an outstanding manager? Frequent employee feedback is one of the easiest ways to set yourself apart, accelerate performance and ignite employees’ development and growth.

Want to be an outstanding manager? Frequent employee feedback is one of the easiest ways to set yourself apart, accelerate performance and ignite employees’ development and growth.

Here are four ideas to fuel your approach:

1. Style: The Sandwich Technique and More

The best communicators relate to their audience and recognize individual style preferences. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was known for providing candid and immediate feedback. He could be harsh. Those on the receiving end required thick skin if Jobs wasn’t pleased. While communication should be clear, it can be provided diplomatically. Abrasiveness does not engender teamwork or productivity.

Consider packaging negative feedback like a “sandwich.” Surround the difficult filling with two pieces of positive “bread.” Begin and end with notes of encouragement. This technique makes the news more digestible. On the other hand, some people prefer a more direct approach. It is possible to get straight to the point by focusing on the outcome, process or behavior – without making disparaging comments about the person.

No matter where employees are on this spectrum, respect individual preferences. Great managers invest time to learn which technique is appropriate for each member of their staff. As a result, they cultivate strong teams and create effective feedback experiences.

2. Give and Receive

A culture of candor starts from day one. Inform new team members what they can expect from you, the team and the organization. Doing this work on the front end leads to fewer surprises down the road.

Along those same lines, be transparent about your leadership style. Explain that you plan to provide regular, honest feedback. This accelerates your transition into a new role.

To create the most effective dynamic, the process also needs to work in reverse. Managers should encourage direct feedback from employees. This practice demonstrates that your approach is sincere.

3. Performance Evaluations are Passé?

Many companies are abandoning performance evaluations. They may still use pay-for- performance, but formal evaluation processes are less popular, transitioning instead to frequent meetings between managers and employees throughout the year. For example, Accenture, Cigna and GE have done away with ratings systems. GE once had a forced ranking system. Employees in the bottom ranks were in danger of losing their job. Is feeling threatened the best way to bring good things to life? Absolutely not.

Discussions between employees and managers provide opportunities for dialogue about growth and development. David Rock and Beth Jones make a good case for frequent exchanges in their September 2015 Harvard Business Review article, "Why More and More Companies Are Ditching Performance Ratings." The world of business has changed. While it may be reasonable to make 12- and 6-month plans, it may not be realistic. Trends change much faster than that these days, and employees must adapt.

Changing demographics also play a role. Research suggests that Millennials prefer more frequent feedback. This generation is accustomed to making social media posts and receiving instant feedback. Managers can leverage this same dynamic. Because workers in this age group are not likely to stay in one job for a long time, frequent and candid feedback actually keeps them engaged in their work. Failing to connect can lead them to feel stalled in their career and seek opportunities elsewhere.

4. Strike While the Iron is Hot

Providing timely feedback is important -- good or bad. Most people have been in situations where they put a lot of time, energy and resources into a project. It’s frustrating to discover late in the game that something was wrong. When it comes to performance, employees deserve to receive timely information.

The same holds true for good news; in the workplace, positive feedback is essential. Managers who let employees know they are doing well reinforce expectations. Recognition also needs to be timely. It can be less meaningful when received far-removed from the event.

Frequent and candid feedback is essential for great managers. It starts with effective communication. Clear expectations and frequent conversations with managers help support employee development. Finally, whether it is good or bad, be sure to provide timely feedback.

One-on-ones are a great way to keep your team on track and engaged about their work. Learn how GoCo can help you retain your employees with our amazing Team Feedback feature.

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