Creating a Feedback Culture
Importance of Feedback
According to Marcel Schwantes, Inc.com, employees desire more feedback. Reportedly, 62% of employees wish they received more feedback from their colleagues not just their supervisor. Employees who receive feedback beyond the typical annual review, experience 14.9% lower turnover rates, are 60% more engaged and report 27% improvement in work satisfaction after receiving that feedback. In fact 42% of millennials want weekly feedback. So why is feedback from colleagues and managers not meeting expectations? A staggering 32% of employees have to wait more than three months to receive any feedback from their manager despite research findings that many managers know employees desire and require feedback as a positive element of engagement.
Anatomy of Great Feedback
The definition of productive feedback however leaves many scrambling for self-help books and google searches. Creating a culture of great feedback includes more than words of encouragement and reminders on where an employee can improve. There are two crucial ingredients for providing beneficial feedback to your employees:
Good feedback should be:
Honest, not merely negative comments sandwiched between overly massaged encouragements to manipulate a team member’s behavior. We all know where we can improve and where we excel. Good feedback recognizes our natural strengths and weaknesses as the basis for improvement.
Strength-focused for employees to engage in activities with a shorter learning curve and higher rates of productivity and engagement.
Empathetic without becoming overly emotional. Feedback presented with too much emotion or with too little can be difficult to receive and difficult to interpret. Overly positive feedback leaves the employee wondering whether their manager is being transparent. Balance is key.
Fact-based for the employee to accept the feedback. When we are given concrete examples of when we do well and where we can improve, the feedback resonates with us. Being too vague with one’s feedback can leave the recipient second-guessing the intention and not sure what they need to accomplish.
A safe culture in which one can give and receive feedback should include:
Fairness across all levels of leadership; everyone gives and receives honest, authentic feedback.
Considerate and open dialog, where failure is a learning experience for all, not a critique that singles out an individual.
Vulnerability and a sense that personal improvement is a widely held aspiration among all members of the organization.
Feedback should focus on strengths. “Creating a culture that values what's inherently right with employees instead of fixating on what's wrong with them is at the heart of what great managers do.” (Ryan Pendall)
Benefits of Creating a Culture of Feedback
Employees report needing more feedback, both positive and negative in order to continue and improve their productivity and develop competence in their work. Teams that receive regular feedback report a 8.9% greater profitability than those that do not. In addition, 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week compared to only 18% of employees with low engagement.
Workplace cultures that promote opportunities for dialogue, feedback, and connection to the organization's purpose, help employees develop a deeper connection between their jobs and the organizational goals. Leaders also require feedback. Joseph Folkman, in Forbes, describes his research on leaders and the need for feedback: among the lowest ranked leaders, only 17% ask others for feedback, however, 83% of top-performing leaders seek regular feedback. Being open to feedback allows one to keep emotional intelligence in balance with critical leadership skills such as integrity, strategic thinking, and planning.
Feedback is the life-blood of a successful organization. Effective feedback requires purposeful thought at all levels of leadership and is often a low-cost initiative with tremendous organizational rewards.