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How to Find Out if You Have a Feedback Problem

Employee feedback is one of the most important (and most under-appreciated) aspects of running a business or managing a team. When overlooked and done improperly, it can result in low employee engagement, which will affect recruitment and retention. So, if it’s so important, how do so many of us let it go to the back burner?

The short answer is feedback is tough to do consistently and it’s tough to do right. Giving feedback to one employee is difficult enough, but think about giving feedback to ten, twenty, 100 people! Though overwhelming, how you give employee feedback can easily make or break your success. We’ve put together a guide to determine if you’re suffering from a feedback problem.

FEEDBACK PROBLEM 1: YOUR PRODUCTIVITY IS TANKING

If you’re suffering from poor feedback practices, the first symptom will be poor productivity. Organizations with low employee engagement scores experienced 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, 37% lower job growth, and 65% lower share price over time. That’s a lot riding on giving effective feedback! Have faith – your employees want to be better.

Workboard found 72% of employees think their performance would improve with more feedback. If employee productivity is suffering, you’ll be shocked at what a difference effective feedback can make. Employees are more engaged, and highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity.

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If you’re worried that only good feedback will get you that productivity boost you want, fret no longer. In fact, HBR highlighted research by Zenger and Folkman which found:

When asked what was most helpful in their career, fully 72% of survey respondents said they thought their performance would improve if their managers would provide corrective feedback.

But how it was done really mattered — 92% of the respondents agreed with the assertion, “Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.”

FEEDBACK PROBLEM #2: YOU’RE NOT SPECIFIC ENOUGH WITH YOUR FEEDBACK

Generalizations like, “you have trouble focusing,” or “you don’t complete tasks quickly enough,” are essentially useless to your employee; those statements don’t serve to motivate nor do they carry specifics. Instead, employees are 30x more likely to be actively engaged, and therefore more productive, when managers focus on their strengths.

Negative feedback can still be a motivator, if done properly. Negative feedback shouldn’t include attacks on an employee’s personality, just stick to the facts. Jeanne Hopkins (@JeanneHopkins), SVP and CMO of Continuum, said:

“Most team members want to learn and grow, and the only way that can happen is with slight course corrections every now and again. Always providing rainbows and unicorns with your team is not an effective strategy over the long term.”

To pack the most punch with your feedback, make sure you’re giving concrete examples, focusing on situations, and offering solutions you can help the team enact over the course of a few weeks or months.

Tweet This: .@JeanneHopkins gives advice on the only way to let team members learn and grow: 

FEEDBACK PROBLEM #3: YOU’RE NOT ASKING, YOU’RE JUST TELLING

Performance reviews are a two-way street, so you shouldn’t be giving a monologue. First, let your employee respond to your critiques: 33% of employees said a lack of open, honest communication has the most negative impact on employee morale. It’s also possible that you get a little caught up in your company and forget how the employee might feel. When employees recalled a boss that had been unkind or un-empathic, they showed increased activation in areas of the brain associated with avoidance and negative emotion, which is a major hit to productivity. A little kindness and open communication goes a long way: when leaders are inclusive, humble and encourage their staff to speak up or ask for help, it leads to better learning and higher performance outcomes.

Fix this by sending the questions and review conversation starters ahead of time and don’t forget to ask how you can lead your employees better, if they have the right tools and how you can better deliver feedback in the future.

FEEDBACK PROBLEM #4: YOU’RE NOT GIVING FEEDBACK FREQUENTLY ENOUGH

The annual performance review just isn’t enough anymore. Companies from Accenture to Ernst and Young are doing away with once a year meetings in favor of more frequent feedback. You can’t remember all the achievements and failures of your employees, and today’s workforce needs more consistent feedback to be productive.

Employees are 2x more likely to be actively disengaged with work if they feel ignored by their manager? It can’t be stressed enough how important frequent feedback is: 40% of employees suffer from active disengagement because they’re getting little or no feedback. Use a micro feedback system to up your game if you’re struggling to find the time, because 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week.

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Giving effective feedback can be difficult, but there’s so much riding on it. If you recognized your own performance culture in any of the issues we mentioned above, you might have a feedback problem. Don’t despair, every problem has a solution. We have lots of resources to help you get back on track. Or try Reviewsnap for free and get your performance culture up to snuff!

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