A complete guide on the importance of employee feedback and how managers should give, ask, receive and respond to feedback.
Nowadays, everybody has heard of the importance of employee feedback. It’s a basic need for every work team. When you know what others are doing and feeling, you feel more engaged in your workplace. Continuous work feedback helps you build stronger teams and it helps reduce employee turnover, which is a major concern for every organization. Managers need to pay more attention to their employee’s feedback, the questions now are how and why.
Feedback is an easy concept to understand at first. It’s sharing your reactions and opinions about something that happened before. Applying that to the workplace environment may be a little bit more complicated. The hard part is to understand what is implied in each feedback. Other questions start to pile up when addressing this topic.
What kind of feedback should you be looking for? How can you use that information to help you reach your goals? Is there good and bad feedback? How can I get honest feedback?
There are a lot of important questions you should ask about feedback because it’s a very complex topic when you dive in. We tried to address the main concerns when referring to employee feedback, so that we could provide you with an insightful approach to this topic, answering the main questions.
Let’s start with the basics.
You can define employee feedback as sharing constructive insights about the workplace environment with your peers or higher-ups. It can and should come from every level of the organization. It’s the gathering of all that information from different perspectives that makes employee feedback so valuable.
Feedback is a reaction in its nature. It generates from what happens around you and at the same time you start to build an opinion about that. In any organization, feedback is essential for everyone to be productive and reach their potential.
You need to remind yourself of why you are giving or asking for feedback. It should have a clear goal behind it. But in seemingly every case, feedback has one clear purpose: it’s the beginning of a conversation. It starts a dialogue about something that needs reinforcement, either to improve or compliment.
Feedback helps you maintain positive behaviours and correct bad ones. It should help understand how everybody’s actions are reflecting on the company’s productivity. Employee feedback is crucial for growth in the workplace environment. It serves as a very important tool in making sure everybody in the organization improves on their work.
Feedback can be either positive or negative, but it should be accurate in assessing everybody’s performance. Positive feedback is complementing someone’s impact on the workflow of the company. It can be very valuable as it validates someone’s efforts and results. Everybody wants to feel recognized for their efforts at work, so positive feedback can be a great tool to motivate employees and improve overall workplace morale.
Negative feedback implies a need for change, something that needs improvement. It means that there is a situation that needs addressing, normally to correct it. Even though it refers to something negative, it should be embraced with a positive attitude, like all feedback. More employees consider negative feedback more useful because it helps them grow by the point of what they need to improve.
Both positive and negative feedback is extremely helpful in maintaining a good workplace environment. They make you aware of what needs attention in your organization. Employees will also be aware of their impact in that same organization and what they need to do next. Either keep up with the good work or improve some work behaviours. Good feedback will help them feel more engaged and motivated.
You should always strive to give good and accurate feedback. That kind of feedback allows you to grow and improve your overall performance and behaviour in the workplace environment. A good feedback culture is crucial for constant employee satisfaction, and therefore engagement. Bad feedback can be your worst enemy in that. It can leave you unsure of what you can do to improve, leading to a lack of engagement and career direction.
So what sets good and bad feedback apart?
For feedback to be good and useful, it should have a series of attributes. Feedback should be honest, straight to the point, and reflect truthful information. The more sincere an insight is, the more value it will have. You should always look for honest takes on yourself and your work. It makes you reflect on where you can improve, a point you can focus on.
It should also be timely and continuous. You should be able to address feedback at the moment and strive for immediate improvement. Continuous honest feedback is a reliable source of workplace insights that will make you more aware of possible problems.
As we mentioned before, feedback must always have a purpose. It should have a clear meaning, being something that you should improve or maintain. Make sure that what you say may have an impact on others. That is the responsibility of those who give feedback
Employee feedback serves as a starting point for a discussion about your workplace environment. You may have noticed that the three examples we gave you ended with questions you should propose to your employees in those situations. They must realize that feedback ultimately is a growing process. We all need to try to be better at what we do. So you must start a dialogue about work issues.
Knowing what good feedback must have, it is also easier to understand what you should avoid in feedback. That is what you can consider as bad feedback.
In that sense, bad feedback is the feedback that limits what you can retrieve from those insights. Sometimes it’s with good intentions but fails at delivering concise and effective information. When it misses those points, it’s the feedback that doesn’t help in your growth.
Feedback should always reflect a positive attitude, even when it’s negative. That way, problems could become opportunities to grow. If it doesn’t reflect that attitude it’s bad feedback. It ends up being critical for the sake of criticism only.
Bad feedback is, in general, feedback that fails to understand employees’ needs. In a growth mindset culture, that kind of feedback can be an obstacle that managers and employees alike need to go through. Always strive to give and ask for effective feedback as a way to prevent bad information to become a threat to employee engagement.
Sharing and gathering feedback brings several benefits to the workplace environment. You need to focus on the advantages that 360-degree feedback can bring to your workforce and organization as a whole. So how can employee feedback help you?
Understanding what you can give as a worker is one of the more important steps in career growth. You need to be aware of what you can offer and where you are so that you can plan what you want to become and where you want to be. Feedback allows you to understand where you need to focus. This is a crucial tool for leaders because it provides them with the information they need to settle a path for their employees to grow.
Most times, people don’t know what others feel about them. You may very well think others have a worse image of you than the image they have. You need to be aware of your worth and impact on others and feedback is a great tool to do just that.
Employee feedback helps you understand “how” things are done much more than “what” was done. That focus on the process instead of the outcome is vital to improving on what was missing from the first try. Everybody has certain goals that they need to achieve, but if something is missing you’re not going to find that out by evaluating what is left to do but instead, how did you do it.
Understanding what is missing in your workflow is a big part of why feedback is important. Little tweaks and improvements can always be implemented, and it all starts with an honest conversation about it.
You can only improve through honest conversations and that is the first step you need to take. So candid feedback helps build rich dialogue between you and your peers. By highlighting your strengths and weaknesses you can grow through that conversation and value the continuous aspect of feedback. The more frequent it is, the more workplace conversations are valued.
That open dialogue helps you build better work relationships, which can help you improve. Relationships are built on trust from that dialogue. Sharing feedback is a mutually beneficial exchange as it allows both sides of that exchange to support each other. So dialogue helps build stronger bonds between employees.
Personal growth is a basic career need, we like to feel we are improving every day. Continuous employee feedback is the perfect tool to help in that need. It gives you a constant stream of insights you can use to develop new skills or improve certain behaviours.
An honest opinion about you helps you understand where you need to go and what you need to be. By providing opportunities to grow, your workplace will be more enticing for employees to stay there long term. A good feedback culture helps in making your company a great place for people to grow their careers. It starts by implementing continuous feedback for you to be aware of your performance.
When you know where you made mistakes you can assume your responsibility for that and improve. Accountability is vital for overall company performance. You need to acknowledge your impact so that you can determine the best plan of action.
If everybody takes responsibility for their actions, then it’s easier for everybody else to perform according to their expectations. Sharing feedback helps in maintaining an even field for anyone to take that responsibility. You become aware of your employees’ struggles and you can help them with those problems. It also helps employees perform better as they have a clear path to go through.
When we defined feedback, we said that it was something that happened, referring to the past. As we try to use feedback as a tool to improve, we have to think about the future. In that sense, we came to the concept of feedforward, so what does it mean?
That concept was first introduced by Peter W. Dowrick and it is a learning method through which you can determine the best path for the future. Feedforward is different from feedback in the way that it focuses on improving for the future and not on trying to solve something that happened in the past. You should use feedforward as the ultimate tool to improve, as it is directly connected to potential growth. It’s valuing strengths and striving to improve those same strong points. It helps shape a better future based on your experience, the good and the bad.
It is important to adopt a feedforward approach because:
It shares most of the same principles as feedback as it values honesty, specific insights, and timely scheduling and it leads always to follow-up questions to discuss what you can do better. Therefore, feedforward is feedback but driven to constant improvement and future development. It focuses solely on employee growth and provides new opportunities for that growth to expand to the entire company.
Using feedback to improve is something we do on a day-to-day basis. We get insights about what we do and we interpret that information in a way that can help us in the future. Therefore, it can have a direct impact on your performance. You need to see where you failed or just needed a little improvement and work on it. That way you are evaluating your impact and addressing what needs to change.
Feedback is a series of insights about performance. The two can be directly connected. Feedback keeps employees aware of their efforts and their value. There are 2 main ways that feedback can help you perform better at work:
Employee feedback, above all other things, values the potential of change and how that can improve your performance. The key principles were set on the previous topics, now apply those guidelines to your everyday tasks. Self-evaluation is vital for any worker to understand where they could perform better, so feedback will always be a crucial part of employee performance.
As worker needs to keep getting more complex, the way you evaluate their performance should evolve as well. In that sense, traditional methods have failed to reflect an actual change in satisfying workplace demands. Annual performance reviews are outdated in the sense that they no longer accurately reflect workplace conditions.
One of the main problems is the lack of two-dimensional feedback between employees and managers. Normally, all of the feedback gathered by annual performance reviews is only accessible at the management level. They are often very formal so it doesn’t reflect an open conversation environment. That limits employee growth because they remain not aware of where they can improve and they cannot have a healthy discussion about workplace problems.
There is also the problem that yearly data doesn’t accurately translate workplace dynamics. In a modern business, every week represents a whole new challenge, so limiting performance reviews to a year at a time can be an extremely biased analysis. Timely updates are needed to understand workplace dynamics.
Employees want more from their workplace and their leaders. They need a day-to-day level of recognition to feel more engaged in their work. They want to talk about their careers and feel like they are growing with each challenge they encounter.
With a clear need for daily feedback to better assess employee performance, you need to implement a more day-to-day or even week-to-week approach to gathering feedback. Having consistent daily feedback is a very valuable tool for any workforce. Self-improvement is something that you should strive to do every day, so having daily feedback is key to that effort.
In that way, continuous feedback is adopting methods and tools so that you can give and ask for feedback about yourself on a more frequent basis. It gains value when it’s more recurrent because it’s more accurate to the environment as it is evolving. Continuous feedback is fundamental for higher employee engagement.
You should look for that feedback to be timely and properly adapted to your workplace demands. As a manager, the feedback you provided needs to make sense accordingly to the context that it is given. When that happens, the feedback given has a clear purpose
Continuous feedback can also provide a constant stream of information and open dialogue. That kind of openness can help make things more transparent to everyone in the workplace environment. It helps in maintaining everyone up to date with current company issues.
The continuous nature of feedback is essential in making modern-day employees more engaged in their workplace. As they are more demanding of their conditions and opportunities to grow, continuous feedback serves as a great tool to keep those employees happy and motivated. Feedback adapts to the needs of the people involved, so it’s important to always keep those needs a priority.
Now that you understand clearly what good feedback is and why that is important, the main question now is how to give useful feedback? There are many strategies you can adopt. It should ultimately reflect how you see your employees and how you want to help them grow.
You should give employee feedback continuously as was mentioned before, but also strive for provoking certain emotions in your workforce. Trust is a crucial one. A good feedback culture can build trust within your team. Give feedback that can help employees trust you and feel safe sharing work problems.
You must act as if things are happening, not after. This is why continuous feedback is that important. You should solve each situation as quickly as you can, so you must give feedback as soon as you can to recognize someone or solve some problem.
As we discussed before, your employee’s needs are a priority to you. You need to be aware of what drives them and what is concerning them so that you can be a better leader. Therefore, give them feedback that helps their goals and objectives. It could be positive or negative feedback, but one is not more valuable than the other. You just need to certify that you get your point across with honest and precise insights.
The best way to give useful employee feedback is by ensuring that feedback is effective. So what is effective feedback? You need to ensure the following aspects:
Giving effective feedback is the goal of every manager. If you make sure your message gets across and you see results in your action, that validates your feedback culture. Seek to promote constant improvement to your employees through good, helpful, and effective feedback.
You should give feedback on every opportunity you have but also consider asking for feedback about yourself. It’s very important to understand what kind of impact you are having on your peers. They might have relevant insights on how you can improve, so you should always give them a chance to share those insights. How can you do just that?
As a manager, you should seek advice about your job. Trusting other people’s opinions helps them feel valued and validated for their insights. You should ask for that feedback when you have the chance and retrieve those insights as advice to you to do a better job.
That last example showed how important asking for feedback is for who asks and who gives, as it helps you and it validates others’ opinions. This is why you should ask for feedback on a more frequent basis. Make asking for advice and constructive insights a habit so that you can best utilize the opportunities feedback can give you.
Talking about negative feedback is always a tricky situation. You don’t want to feel disappointed by your efforts and you want to keep yourself motivated. However, questioning negative feedback and making it easier for others to give you that kind of feedback is essential because you need those insights to grow.
Also, try to vary with the feedback methods you apply. Sometimes a simple conversation is good for that situation. On other occasions, maybe a survey could be a better solution. Don’t create fatigue in your employees relating to the feedback you ask for. Always make sure that they are up for sharing those insights.
The way you deal with feedback is as important as the way you share and ask for feedback. Your approach to receiving employee feedback directly affects how the other person giving that information will act. You need to have a proper response strategy based on a few key points:
Don’t be defensive in your response. Be open to constructive criticism and embrace that you can always improve on your work. Don’t try to fight others’ opinions and realize they can be a positive influence on you. It’s valuable information for you.
It’s important to be a good listener, but also make sure you understand what is being told to you. Seek specific and candid information. That way you can determine the best way for you to act upon that feedback. If you have a complete understanding of the situation your judgment will be better in developing a solution.
Receiving feedback is vital for understanding the importance of employee feedback in your organization. You need to make sure that the feedback you gathered is important in planning your follow-up response. You will only be able to improve through good feedback, and how you receive and understand it defines your next approach to employee feedback.
The follow-up to feedback is important in giving value to that exchange and improving workplace conditions. You need to know how you should respond to certain insights. Some situations will demand more of you and others won’t. It’s up to you to determine the best course of action. We provide you with some examples of how you can handle some of these situations.
This is a dangerous insight for someone that is feeling bad about their current work situation. You need to approach him/her with caution and try to understand the situation before you set up a proper response. “What did others do that made you feel like this? When did you start feeling left out?”. As soon as you know what caused that feeling, you can think of a solution. “Have you tried talking to each one of them and understanding what they are feeling? I think you should ask them for feedback about you”. By having a more nurturing approach, you can build trust between you and that employee.
This is clear positive feedback, and it also deserves a good response. The first thing you should do is thank that compliment and try to understand what behaviours are most responsible for that. “Thank you for your words. Where was I able to help you reach those goals?”. Like in every feedback sharing, a follow-up conversation is crucial. That way you can understand what needs reinforcement and deserves to be recognized.
The example provided reflects a situation where your well-being was put into question. If this happens, you need to address the feedback received with the utmost honesty. In this case, tell a little about yourself, and let other people know what you are feeling. “I have been through some personal issues, but I’m making strides to improve. I’m sorry about the situation. Where can I be more of a helpful presence?”. This is a more approachable response to a tough question. You will be put to the test sometimes and it’s important that you can be honest in handling these situations that require a balance between your personal life and your work performance.
Employee feedback is a very layered topic, it involves a lot of different issues that directly influence employee engagement and the company’s productivity. This guide addressed a lot of those issues and answered the most frequent questions surrounding the topic of employee engagement. After deliberating a lot about what we presented to you, we highlighted the key takeaways.
From today onwards misaligned teams and isolated employees can unleash actionable feedback, with the help of Tap My Back.
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