The importance of feedback

April 27th 2017 | Posted by phil scott

The importance of feedback

Feedback, both good and bad, is essential to business success. The challenge for managers is how to deliver feedback constructively to encourage individual development, maximise team performance and enhance business growth.
Communicating through feedback
Feedback is a great communication tool. Too often, employees complain they are in the dark, creating a demotivated workforce. Feedback provides the ideal opportunity for management to communicate the outcome of a project – good or bad. Discuss the aspects that went well and the areas in need of extra attention.

Constructive not critical

Delivered at the right time, constructive feedback achieves great results for employees and the organisation. Constructive feedback effectively improves performance, addressing areas in need of development and promoting professional and personal growth. Always deliver constructive feedback in private; addressing someone’s areas for development in front of colleagues will undermine their confidence. Public recognition is a great confidence booster, public scrutiny is not.

Feedback as guidance

Feedback should be considered guidance to help people achieve personal goals as well as team and business targets. Constructive, well-delivered feedback helps individuals to learn new things and improve the quality of their work. Telling an employee; “You did a good job but we’ve identified areas for improvement so we’ll be offering you additional support” is a more effective message then merely feeding back on the areas in which they are lacking.

Stay focussed

Employees need clear direction. Using feedback as an opportunity to address too many issues will only weaken your message. It can also leave employees feeling personally attacked and demoralised. Never address more than two issues and stick to areas that individuals have the control to influence or change.

The sooner the better

Feedback is a continual process so address situations as they arise. With the focus on performance reviews, managers can be guilty of holding on to feedback until a scheduled one-to-one, getting proceedings off on the wrong foot. Immediate feedback shows you are tuned in to workplace activities. Frequent, informal feedback gives employees confidence there will be no ‘surprises’ at their review. Knowing what to expect makes for a more positive appraisal experience providing a platform for employee and manager to address previously identified issues in more depth.

Feedback to overcome negative behaviour

Feedback is like medicine. It doesn’t always taste nice, but taken properly, it makes you better. Even negative feedback can be given a positive spin – address under-performance by setting achievable goals. Start with a positive to highlight how success feels and incentivise an improvement plan. Don’t make it personal – focus on actions rather than personality, on the future, rather than past actions. Listen to an employee’s point of view and address any issues. Discuss unacceptable actions but offer the support to put them right. You’ll get a better response with a positive approach that focuses on improvement. Leave employees feeling empowered by the feedback even if it’s the result of a negative scenario.

A positive experience makes for a positive outcome

Everyone likes to be praised making positive feedback an extremely powerful motivational tool. And a motivated workforce is one that are set on the path to success. Positive feedback reinforces appropriate behaviour, encouraging more. Don’t simply say; “You did a great job”, but elaborate – why was it great? Explain which skills applied to a particular task worked particularly well. For example, they may have built a rapport with a new supplier resulting in more business or carried out significant research to enable a new business proposition.
Show employees their efforts are appreciated and they will be inspired to strive for an even better outcome on the next project.