Feedback: the most effective weapon in your people and business improvement armory

Most managers don’t enjoy giving feedback, but it seems that employees need to receive it, in fact many love it. The Globoforce study found  65% of employees want more feedback. In addition, 96% of employees said that receiving feedback regularly is a good thing, and 83% of employees really appreciate receiving feedback, regardless if it’s positive or negative.

Feedback is just information

In my view feedback is feedback, and there’s no such thing as negative feedback, because its all information. However, I think there is positive and negative intent, hence feedback where the intent is to help versus biteback where the intent is to hurt.

Feedback, even the so-called negative feedback, is an opportunity to improve or change, it connects people and can often help the relationship develop through quality coaching conversations and self development.

Feedback is a key life and business skill. Feedback is central to learning, developing relationships and improving performance, it is a valuable teambuilding and problem solving skill that offers immediate impact and ROI.

Is Feedback the Food of Champions?

Can feedback really be considered ‘food of champions’? Check this out: a Gallup poll found employees who received negative feedback were more than 20 times likely to be engaged than those who received no feedback at all. At first, it might seem strange that people are more engaged if they receive negative feedback. Remember, feedback is information and the process of engaging in feedback shows interest and attention. Employees who don’t receive any feedback can feel neglected, undervalued, forgotten about and may feel their work goes unnoticed.

If staff feel unimportant and that their work is unnoticed, guess what, engagement and energy will go down, which will almost certainly lead to poor performance, missed opportunities, conflict and lower trust.

Feedback is an extremely effective tool

Managers and leaders who know how to give (and receive) feedback wisely have an extremely effective tool to manage and develop employees in their hands. 

The expression ‘give feedback’ is commonplace. But it only tells part of the story and explains why, in an HBR research that of 100 companies surveyed, c80% of managers and leaders said they gave feedback, whilst only c30% of staff in those businesses said they received feedback.

Why do you think this is?

Giving and Reciving Feedback

Given the current need in businesses for practical ways to #buildbackbetter, we have put together a high impact half day workshop, taken from our successful Rewarding Relationships programme that was developed over 20 years ago – so is tried and tested – to help clients learn, develop and improve ‘giving and receiving feedback’ skills.

Giving and receiving feedback are two separate yet interdependent skills. In order to to get a birthday card it needs to be sent and received, correct? It could get lost in the post? In the real world there is so much distraction and noise that can get in the way of someone receiving feedback. There’s an old expression that says the value of communication is in how the communication is received. In order to improve the likelihood of the feedback being well sent and received, here’s a few top tips:

Giving Feedback

  • Prepare yourself and be clear on what you are giving feedback on, and why
  • Make the other person the starting point
  • Pick your time and place
  • Avoid interference or distraction
  • Be specific on the feedback so the other person can connect with you
  • Invite the other persons response
  • Seek to solve any challenges or changes together
  • Agree any actions if required, when you will review them and against what criteria

Receiving Feedback

  • Thank the other person for offering the feedback
  • Check understanding with them
  • Seek to understand why it matters to them, and to you
  • Ensure you are clear on any changes or improvements if required
  • Seek to solve any challenges or changes together
  • Agree any actions if required, when you will review them and against what criteria

Feedback is a gift

If you hear the word feedback, or if some one offers you feedback – how do you feel and what do you think will happen?

Sadly, many people feel a sense of anxiety about feedback, indeed some think ‘oh no!’ And this speaks to how we have experienced feedback over the years.

Giving feedback is a skill. It needs to be shared or given more frequently, more efficiently and usefully. Feedback is central to learning and development, and is without question a valuable business improvement tool. It is a key business and life skill that businesses must invest in to help managers and leaders to improve performance and culture.

Benefits to Feedback

The benefits to developing feedback skills and a feedback culture, are wide and varied but will include the likes of:

  • Improved problem solving, creativity, engagement, understanding, leadership, trust, performance, communication and focus.
  • Reduced misunderstanding, wasted time, game playing, conflict, sick days, missed opportunities and costs.

In summary

Feedback may be the most effective weapon in your people and business improvement armory

PJ Stevens Facilitator, Coach and Consultant.