Evan Davis of Radio 4 looked at feedback in a recent episode of The Bottom Line. It’s useful to know how you’re doing at work, but it can be unhelpful, upsetting, or even non-existent. It’s important to train managers in how to have these conversations. It’s essential that employees receive quality feedback and act on it to grow and develop in their roles.

Make feedback a management priority

Regular, timely feedback conversations with employees to review performance covering role, goals, development, key performance indicators and job objectives are key to talent management.

Research suggests traditional performance reviews demotivate people and don’t improve employee performance. Gallup found that only 29% of employees agree that the performance reviews they receive are fair, and just 26% agree that they are accurate. Many major organisations have dropped the annual appraisal process in favour of alternative ways to manage performance.

Regular two-way reviews enables a real-time connection with each employee and understanding of their strengths, skills, values, motivation and aspirations.

Putting people first

Feedback should be ‘in the moment’ with as little judgement as possible, which is a problem with annual reviews. It’s useful to document and talk over issues with each team member so great work is discussed alongside development goals; it should be ongoing, more a dialogue or coaching than review.

Research shows that teams whose managers spent at least 16 minutes of one-on-one time with each direct report per week had 30% percent more engaged direct reports than the average manager, who spent just 9 minutes per week with direct reports.

Time with leaders and managers is key in employee engagement indicating a culture where managers are focused on developing their employees. It facilitates open communication, review cycles, and opportunities for growth when leadership is available to employees.

Optimum performance

We use feedback to improve performance and enable development but don’t want a retrospective critique of past performance. Guests on The Bottom Line reinforced the notion that feedback should be frequent and pointed out ways in which technology enables and normalises meaningful reviews and career conversations.

The makes feedback genuinely two-way so managers and leaders get it from employees, from the coalface. A formal 360 process tends to emphasis the negative, a modern platform means everyone in the organization can request and share feedback making it as easy for all to learn, reflect and grow in a safe environment that enables change.

People go to work wanting to do a good job and negative feedback is difficult to hear. Couch feedback in a way that addresses behaviours rather than personality or values. This is constructive feedback as a teachable moment, feedback as conversation not confrontation; consider how the feedback will be helpful, how it will help the recipient learn. Positive feedback can be transformational when recipients act on the information.

Keep it real

HR tend to forget managers don’t like appraisals. Did you ever hear someone say they were looking forward to appraising their people?

Protecting people from negative feedback is not the way to go. Do the right thing, take context into account, ensure transparency but address issues in a timely fashion. It is part of the manager’s role to deliver this and improve team performance, to ensure they are doing the best for their team and that the team can do its best for the organisation.

Michael Moran

Michael is CEO and Founder of 10Eighty. He is passionate about helping people maximise their potential and believes everyone should have job satisfaction and a successful career. He helps organisations design jobs and career paths that maximise employee engagement. As an avid reader/commentator on the world of work and sport, he regularly draws parallels between the two. You could describe Michael as a budding author with “The Guide to Everlasting Employability” already under his belt, and technophile who’s created 2 career management apps to help people manage their careers.

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