When it comes to making the most of an organization, providing feedback to employees is imperative to ensure worker productivity is high and turnover is lowered. According to The Conference Board, nine out of 10 executive level officers are aware that employee engagement is key to an organization’s function, but only half understand how to work toward higher levels.
While employee engagement is a complex matter, one facet often includes giving employees feedback to tell them where they are doing well and where they need to improve. Since employees don’t fit into a single personality type, there needs to be a varied approach when it comes to giving feedback.
Understanding Why Feedback is Often Disregarded
Even the best performing employee with the greatest potential for advancement can still be resistant to coaching. Identifying resistance to coaching is the first step in making feedback more effective. Examples of being resistant to feedback include changing feedback meetings to a later date or feigning interest in the feedback itself, but never actually changing behavior based on the advice.
Other reasons employees may not listen to and apply feedback is that they’ve had a bad experience receiving it from past supervisors. This can occur when feedback was directed at employees by bosses who didn’t provide actionable tasks they can take to improve performance, or bosses who didn’t ask the employee to explain what they were struggling with in the course of their duties. Similarly, by not explaining how the feedback can help increase the chances of meeting a project’s goal or earning a promotion in the future, the lack of communication makes the feedback impersonal and less effective.
How to Deliver Feedback More Effectively
There are many strategies to help managers provide feedback that help develop a higher level of employee trust, increasing the chance of the employee receiving and applying the feedback. An initial way to develop a working relationship is for a manager to highlight what a worker does well and how and why it’s important to the company’s mission, even if they aren’t a top performer.
Another way to build trust with employees is to keep feedback and performance confidential. If the worker discovers his performance is being discussed beyond necessary supervisors or with other employees involved in related projects, it could damage whatever trust may already be established.
Allowing an employee the latitude to make errors, within reason, can give a subordinate the confidence needed to take the feedback to heart and incorporate it into areas where he may be struggling. Following up with a commitment to weekly mentoring sessions is another way to keep the level of trust high.
There are real world examples of how these approaches can work. For instance, while a newly hired candidate’s performance was rated as exceeding expectations at her first annual review, she had not been focused on building work relationships with her direct boss and colleagues. In an organization that values relationship building among supervisors, co-workers and subordinates, her boss should give her this feedback to help her become a more well-rounded employee.
Instead of diving in to the negative portion of the employee’s conduct (where she failed to reach out to her boss for advice and other colleagues in the same department to gain different perspectives to keep learning on the job), the employee’s supervisor focused on building a relationship with the new employee by highlighting her top-notch performance. By having the employee understand the supervisor’s empathy, the likelihood of the employee improving on relationship building was higher due to the supervisor’s empathetic feedback.
While giving feedback varies with each employee, taking different approaches can and does have positive impacts when building organizational efficiency.