We have mentioned feedback previously, but it is such an integral part of the process that it needs to be considered again. Without feedback and positive reinforcement (to encourage the repeat of good behaviours), anyone giving what they perceive to be their best may not excel. After all, their best may not be what you need. For instance, an employee may work overtime trying to perfect certain details in a project, not knowing that the extra effort they did was negligible in relation to the project’s end goal. In this regard, you need feedback as a means to clarify expectations and needs for both the employees and the managers.
Feedback is also critical to the way your team responds to changes that are being made within the organisation. It is a mechanism for improvement that enables you to identify areas where performance could be enhanced and where performance is acceptable or even exceptional. To improve overall organisational performance, you need to know what is working, what isn’t, and where change is necessary. If you have information or ideas that can allow for performance to improve, it is unfair to your staff to keep this to yourself and expect them to know what to do.
Here are some guidelines in effectively giving and receiving feedback:
1. Go beyond feedback forms.
Performance appraisals are often tick boxing exercises. You need to reach beyond this and look for performance improvements through one-to-one interaction. While you may need to fill in the forms, always deliver your verdict in a conversation.
2. Give feedback in a timely fashion.
Feedback should be immediately after a specific function is performed. By delaying it, you often miss the prime opportunity for delivering effective feedback, Moreover, you risk the staff member not remembering what they did and thus not being able to put your specific feedback into action. However, be cautious when providing feedback around an event which may have led to charged feelings. For instance, it may be best to give feedback about a workplace disagreement a day or two after the disagreement so as to give everyone a chance to calm down and reflect on what occurred.
3. The feedback that you provide to your staff members is only as effective as the work that you put into developing it.
Do not treat feedback as an ad hoc process or as something that you can make up as you go along. For your feedback to be most effective, you need to carefully consider what you are going to say and why you are going to say it. There must be reasons for the feedback you are giving, and you must recognise that the feedback you provide may need careful consideration by both you and your staff members.
4. Feedback should outline why you are taking particular actions.
Giving someone a pay rise is great, but telling them why you are doing so is better. Your feedback should be detailed and organised in such a way that it clearly outlines why you are giving such an assessment. It’s important to discuss what the feedback is about, but it is even more crucial to explain why you have provided such feedback. Make sure that your team members can recognise the reasons behind your evaluation, especially in relation to the subsequent course of actions you are endorsing as a response to your feedback.
5. Treat feedback as a continual process.
Get feedback on your feedback. As a manager, you need to know if the feedback that you provide is effective and useful. Sometimes, you may be blinded by the fact that you are a manager, thinking that the title would mean constantly doing everything right. However, you may not always be doing everything correctly. Thus, you ought to go out and ask your staff whether the feedback they are provided is useful to them and if not, how the feedback provided can be changed and made more effective.
More often than not, feedback is linked to performance appraisal. People consider this as their sole opportunity throughout the year to learn how well they are doing. However, feedback should be seen as more than this. It should be viewed as an opportunity to continually assess your staff and let them know just how well they are performing. Feedback isn’t about filling in the paperwork and then filing it away. It is about making real changes in an organisation, and so it needs to be something that all members deem important and are aware of.