Some people are very open to giving and receiving feedback, perceiving it as a necessary assessment of their professional career, which allows them to identify strengths and weaknesses. However, some people, especially those accustomed to a strict hierarchy, may receive feedback with concern and are reluctant to provide it to their line managers. For this reason, a feedback culture should be introduced gradually to give employees time to get used to such communication.
Giving feedback is an art that starts with knowing the difference between feedback and criticism. Both criticism and feedback involve evaluation. However, the difference is that criticism involves judgment and finding errors, while feedback evaluates and then suggests a solution to improve performance. The essence of good feedback includes an understanding of the desired outcome, empathy and future directions, rather than looking for culprits in different past situations. Instead of looking for a culprit, one must ask, how can I help this person develop and improve?
How to provide feedback?
Providing feedback is an action that can be learned by anyone and can be learned both individually and as a team. Some tips for giving feedback are:
- Ask permission – A busy employee may find feedback a nuisance. Therefore, you must first make sure that the moment is appropriate for such a conversation, for example, by asking, “Can I share some of my observations with you?” Share what you have observed – and be specific in explaining your thoughts regarding these observations. Mention real examples to create connections and raise awareness.
- Wait and listen to the employee. What is their reaction? Be open. Listening to a person may result in learning something you did not know about, and it has caused the employee to behave or act inappropriately. For example, Tom Haak, a HR professional and author of several books, emphasized that “every good conversation starts with listening”. This approach will allow for more successful feedback and will avoid misunderstandings. Offer a solution – for example, if the employee’s work has become sloppy, it is probably due to the large amount of work that does not allow them to pay attention to details. Talk to the employee about how to better plan the working day so that there is enough time for every task.
When should feedback be provided?
Providing feedback should become part of your daily routine. This means scheduling time in the calendar to give feedback to the team – it is important to schedule this time, because among the many daily tasks, it can often seem like there is no time to provide feedback. Some suggestions:
- Encourage employees into discussions by regularly asking what is new, how they are doing, what difficulties and obstacles they face on a daily basis. If various problems are not voiced and solved in time, they tend to only get worse and create a negative atmosphere. As well, you can encourage the whole team to participate in a small meeting after the end of a project to discuss what went well, what difficulties arose during the process, what failed, and how to ensure that everything runs smoothly next time.
- If employees are too shy to express their thoughts out loud, it is possible to conduct an anonymous survey, for example once a week, where each employee has to evaluate both their own performance and that of their colleagues and managers. This may make it easier to express and summarize their thoughts.
Tools and channels for providing feedback
In addition to meetings and one-on-one discussions, a variety of tools and channels are used to proactively seek feedback. What works for one team may not work for another, therefore, it is important to find what works best for your team. Some of the most effective examples of giving and receiving feedback are:
- Feedback Surveys – This is the shortest and simplest version of an employee engagement survey and covers only a few points to gather feedback from the team or the company as a whole. An easy way to conduct such surveys is to create a Google survey, for example, in order to ask employees what they think about the most important issues. Although this type of survey helps to give an understanding of the workplace situations, it does not provide complete insight, and rarely promotes employee loyalty and development, because it is not personal.
- Feedback platforms that can be adapted to the needs of each company allow you to provide feedback online while maintaining personal communication. These platforms benefit especially those companies whose employees work regularly but are not in the same office and do not meet on a daily basis. For example, recognition technology provides an opportunity for PEERO’s organization management and team collaboration to give immediate feedback, to express recognition and appreciation to colleagues, as well as involve and motivate employees to promote a feeling of belonging and mutual cooperation.
- Team building activities – this is usually one of the best ways to start conversations and interactions between team members in an informal way. If the team building event is successfully organized, it is a very effective way to create a basis for respectful communication and dialogue on a daily basis, without the hesitation to give colleagues feedback.
There is no doubt that providing feedback can be difficult at first. But it has great added value in building and maintaining a strong corporate culture. By understanding the best ways to provide feedback, train staff to give and receive feedback as well and make sure that a consistent feedback culture is developed. The more often feedback is provided, the more employees will expect it and appreciate it, and, in turn, the more successfully they will be able to improve their work performance.
To implement this practice on a daily basis, it is possible to start with smaller teams that are trained to provide feedback to each other on a daily basis. Later this practice can be expanded by sharing the experiences with other employees on the most successful ways to do so, until ultimately, feedback can be given and received by every company employee.