Henry Ford once said: “Enthusiasm is at the bottom of all progress. With it there is accomplishment. Without it there are only alibis.” The point he made only grew more true in the corporate where entrepreneurs are interested in maintaining the enthusiasm of their employees to achieve significant results.
After numerous studies (in particular that of Hinkin & Schriesheim 2004, The Effect of Management Nonresponse to Employee Performance), it was discovered that the management process of not commenting on employee performance (positively or negatively) had a negative impact on the effectiveness and satisfaction of the company. This caused negative performance results. This is why feedback is so necessary in today’s business world.
What do we know about feedback
Feedback is an Anglicism that refers to the action of returning an effect. In most companies, feedback represents comments (good or bad) on employee performance.
Studies have shown that feedback is a significant factor in improving the quality of work from employees, business leaders and organizations alike.
Both in the professional field and in personal life, it is important to know how to express what you think. It is not enough to give an opinion about this or that. Certain rules and foundations must be respected so that all feedback, good or bad, is constructive and not insulting.
The reason for feedback
Before learning how to give feedback, it is important to know why it is important and beneficial to provide it. Beyond the increase in company performance, feedback brings many internal benefits, including:
- Increased staff motivation: Positive or negative, feedback (if it is given well) will increase the motivation of your team.
- Increased productivity: Parallel to the increase in motivation, productivity will follow the same trend. It can be assumed that a motivated worker is a productive worker.
- Greater commitment to the organization: If an employee knows his or her strengths and weaknesses, they will want to have these strengths pointed out to them by their company, and receive constructive criticism on their weaknesses so they may improve. By identifying more closely with your employers, the more likely they will become committed to the job that they perform.
- Evolution and change: Constructive feedback will encourage teams to improve on their weaknesses and continue performing with their strengths. If they know what they are doing right and wrong, they can improve.
- Increased communication: The implementation of regular feedback will increase exchanges between superiors and employees.
A good leader needs to know how to motivate his workers. Feedback is a good tool to demonstrate this skill.
There are different ways to increase productivity and efficiency in business. The introduction of advanced technologies (like artificial intelligence, cloud telecommunications, etc.) can also help improve company performance. When providing feedback, let the employee know that there are different tools that they may use to help assist them.
With artificial intelligence, for example, a lot of work can be automated. This gives the employee more time to focus on other tasks that take up less time. Not only does this help improve their work, but it also speeds up their performance and how much they are able to accomplish in a day.
With cloud telecommunications, you can get assistance from other employees even if they are out of the office and working from a different city that day. You can also simultaneously work on documents or speak to one another in real-time. Some cloud telecommunication systems offer statistical data on call performance. This is useful if your employees handle multiple phone calls a day.
You will want your employees to know that they are not alone and there is always room for improvement. By using different technologies or asking for help when need be, they will be able to come up with better solutions to improve on their weaknesses.
Unlike constructive criticism (or negative) feedback, positive feedback is based on reinforcing appropriate behaviours that employees may not necessarily know they already do.
Being praised for your strengths leads to a positive dynamic even if there are weaknesses. For example, positive comments should also be accompanied by constructive criticism to reinforce the positive and improve the negative.
While giving negative feedback, the employee is defensive and discouraged. They assume that they do not know how to do something and will never get there. Positive feedback increases personal satisfaction and motivation to improve performance. Their thought process will suddenly change to “I do this task well and I’ll be able to do it even better now.”
The 5 foundations of positive feedback
To obtain the favourable climate provided by the positive feedback technique, certain conditions or foundations must be taken into account:
Establish a feedback calendar
It is not recommended to improvise in terms of feedback. To ensure positive future performance amongst your employees, you need to plan when and how the feedback will be provided. Do you plan to provide feedback every week? Every month? Individual feedback or group feedback? These are all questions you must ask yourself in order to see positive results in performance.
Employees must be notified in advance to psychologically prepare themselves before they receive feedback. Receiving feedback can be nerve-racking for some, while others may not take feedback seriously. We must take into account the character of each person, and know whether or not you should speak to them in a more calm tone or demanding tone. Before you give feedback, it is important to know how each employee handles these situations.
The employee should feel that the comments made are the result of several evaluations in different situations. The feedback can not be based on a single bad day that the individual has had. It should be evaluated as a whole for how they have been performing lately. For most people, this is very much possible.
A business manager who is not in the office every day will not be able to evaluate all of their employees effectively. They may have other assistant managers that can assist with checking the performance of their employees. When giving feedback during these situations, you should be sincere. Give your opinion with constructive criticism and talk about different solutions. This evaluation should never be just “good or bad” performance. Nothing is ever just black and white. Always try to comment on both the good or bad, instead. If you only have bad news to give an employee time and time again, it may be best to let them know that they will no longer be given feedback, and instead will be given a letter of dismissal.
Discuss personal criticism through positive judgement
Feedback can not, under any circumstances, affect the employee’s self-esteem or make him behave defensively. If you lower their self-esteem, this causes the employee to shut down and not correct the issues discussed. This will only make the process more difficult. The willingness of an employee to change will depend on the terms used to describe their work. Generic comments will not be useful: you must know how to get to the bottom of your thinking and give your words a concrete perspective. The analysis of why something is positive or negative is critical for the employee to understand what they are doing well and what needs to change.
Be descriptive without too many details
Feedback must be complete, specific, and relevant. Make sure you discuss everything, good and bad. The more clear and concrete your words are, the more productive your feedback. You want the employee to fully understand where they can improve and what are their strengths. The employee must know what they are doing and how to improve. Their changes will be obvious. This also helps the employees self-esteem since they will be able to solve any issues on their own without assistance. Once they see improvements themselves, they will be more motivated to continue improving.
Ask the right questions
You should not be citing a monologue to a silent and frightened employee. Talk about others who may help. Make your employees come up with solutions. Think of their performance.
Do not give feedback with predetermined solutions to their weaknesses. Explain your point of view and let them come up with solutions on their own as well. The employee should not feel intimidated or forbidden to ask questions. They should be able to discuss their point of view as well.
At the end of the discussion, ask the employee what they think of the feedback. If necessary, correct them on comments that they may have misinterpreted. You want to make sure that they understand the issues and how they may be able to solve them.
By focusing on the strengths of your employees during the different feedback sessions throughout the year, you will no longer be the feared leader. You will instead become a valuable coach.
By applying these 5 foundations of positive feedback into your work life, you can correct any weak spots in your business. Simultaneously, you will improve your team’s motivation, productivity and company performance.
About the author
Headquartered in London, England, InvoiceBerry is an online invoicing software for small businesses, sole traders and freelancers. To learn more, visit www.invoiceberry.com.
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