How to maintain high performance by providing effective feedback
Employees can easily lose motivation when they feel they aren’t getting noticed for a job well done, and the last thing you want as managers is for high performers to stop performing. A simple way to combat this is by increasing visibility by providing effective feedback.
Feedback that is constructive and ongoing helps in continuous development of employees, as it acknowledges results, and encourages effort. By receiving timely feedback, employees gain visibility for their work, which allows them to take further responsibility knowing the effort put in won’t go unnoticed. Here are 5 ways, managers can provide feedback that makes employees feel seen and valued.
1. Early and frequent check-ins
While we all have an endless supply of tasks that require completion at the workplace it’s also important to take out some time to check in with team members. These interactions provide value by building connections with your employees and they prevent them from feeling ‘out of sight out of mind’ ie. invisible. By creating a safe space for communication you allow employees to share what they’re working on, and then have the potential to make informed decisions since you’re in the loop of all that is happening within the organisation. Over time an intra-organisational relationship is formed, where there is open communication and trust.
2. Be clear in your communication
Methods like the ‘feedback sandwich’ are dated and damaging. The ‘feedback sandwich’ essentially used to be a somewhat ‘valuable’ technique for offering negative feedback by mentioning it between two positive ones. In an evaluation done by the Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business researchers found the method to be damaging for several reasons such as it trains employees to distrust praise, it detracts from praise when its genuinely due and turned out to be a vague and confusing form of giving feedback.
According to Schwarz, 2013 when employees seek feedback they prefer it to be more performance based, that is, just the ‘meat’ and don’t require it to be cushioned between layers of praise. That raises the importance of making sure feedback is always performance based and not personal. Feedback provided then, must also be related to tasks and not the individual.
3. Make feedback conversations a dialogue
Back in the day, we used to get lectured by our parents and that really never helped in changing the way we did things. That’s simply because a one way conversation is never effective and honestly pretty disrespectful. Where as an open conversation, where you both listen and apply learnings from the dialogue have more weightage in the potential to facilitate a positive change towards performance as feedback can be an important catalyst for improvement. By allowing employees to respond ask questions post your feedback, it provides an opportunity to iron out doubts and find solutions you both can work on together.
4. Effective feedback is private
Changing the location of where feedback is administered can make a world of a difference in getting the desired change in results. The simple solution to this to always praise in public and correct in private as public critique proves to be embarrassing for most individuals. Public praise acts as a form of positive reinforcement for desired behaviour so much so that Blanchard and Johnson called this “catching someone doing something right” in their book, The One Minute Manager. When someone does something wrong, you want to make sure you let them know so that they can avoid doing that, the same way you’d want someone to continue doing what you found right. If you need more clarity on how to have difficult yet effective feedback conversations, you can read more here.
5. Always follow-up
Feedback that’s often and recurring is especially helpful when they are followed up upon. Small appreciation for changes made in the roadmap for improvement can not only help with desired performance outcomes but also make sure that progress is happening in the right direction. Such behaviours help to maintain employee motivation and ensure that effort goes in the right direction. As Managers, with Mesh, you can give feedback in real time, praise in public and keep an easy track around next steps for feedback given. This helps in being able to track employee growth in a measurable and objective manner.
Giving effective feedback is vital for every manager, and should be seen from a largely performance based view where it is given early and often. Focus on it being clear and objective to maintain trust with your employees. Allowing a flow of conversation will help you to arrive at better solutions. Keep critique for a private setting and praise publicly to reinforce desired behaviour. And finally, keep following up on action plans, it shows you genuinely care for each team-member and will make sure your employees will feel visible at their place of work.
Mesh, a continuous performance management tool designed for today’s workforce, helps you break away from the chains and ‘rules’ of specific methodologies like KPIs and OKRs by bringing in a degree of flexibility around how goal setting and progress tracking depending on your unique context and maturity of people processes. Furthermore, it helps you enable continuous feedback and social recognition around both – effort and outcomes. By doing this it helps you do away with the need for 4-5 management tools and time consuming processes around performance management and people development. People managers find it easy to allocate goals and track progress, employees find it easy to get relevant feedback and appreciation, and HR finds it easy to gather useful insights for talent related decisions – it’s a win-win-win.