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The Right Way to Handle Employee Feedback

Employee feedback is an important component of managing employees. Not only is it something that will encourage personal and professional growth, but it is also something that will ensure that employees feel fulfilled at all times. Employees can use this feedback to get better at their jobs. Providing feedback to your employees and taking the time to make it beneficial is a complex process that should be handled in a specific way so it is a positive component that is used to grow employees and the business.

Why Is Feedback Important?

Feedback is an important aspect of growing your business. When it comes to providing employee feedback, it can have many different benefits that can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. By providing regular feedback, your business can experience less employee turnover. Not only does this save you some time when it comes to keeping employees in the open roles that you have, but it also saves you money. Employee turnover can be extremely costly for your business, so you should avoid it as much as you possibly can. Additionally, a lack of feedback, or even very little feedback, from managers can lead employees to become actively disengaged. This means that your employees will be more focused on only getting their job done instead of working to make your business better. If you would like to have highly engaged employees, then you need to provide them with regular feedback. The majority of employees prefer to have feedback given to them on a regular basis, regardless of whether it is positive or negative. They prefer to know where they stand in terms of their job, and they also like to know where they can improve and what they are best at, from their manager's perspective.

One major issue with a lot of companies is that they do not provide enough feedback even when they think they do. Most employees do not feel as though they receive enough feedback even though a good portion of managers believe that they do provide enough feedback. This is a major disconnect, so developing a process for quality feedback is imperative. It is not just important for employees to know how they are performing in their roles; it is also important for them to know what they can improve upon. The right structure can make all the difference in perception and action from your employees. This should encourage open dialog that you want from your employees and your managers.

Using Constructive Feedback

It is not enough to simply provide feedback to employees; you should also try to provide constructive feedback. Instead of focusing on telling employees what they are doing wrong, explain to them your expectations and how they can work toward getting it right. This is the best kind of feedback because it gives employees a path to correct their wrongdoings. This is not only beneficial to the employees, but to the company as a whole too.

When you give employees constructive feedback and they correct their actions, the business is poised to do better. The fewer mistakes that an employee makes, the better your business will run. This turns into more profits as time goes on, and the employee also feels better about the feedback conversation. When an employee is only told that they are doing something wrong, it can bring morale down and will impact how they perform in their role. On the flip side, when they are told the right way to go about things, then there is a positive view of the situation. They will not necessarily feel as though they have completely screwed up their job and now have the information that they can use to perform better. In fact, more employees prefer to receive this constructive feedback than positive feedback alone.

Build Employees Up

Feedback should serve the purpose of providing employees with the knowledge and way to improve; it should not serve the purpose of tearing them down in their role. Employees who receive constructive feedback are more focused on doing better and becoming more knowledgeable in their role.

360-Degree Feedback

One way to get both employee feedback and upward feedback is through 360-degree feedback. With this approach, everyone that an employee works with (including management) within the scope of their role provides feedback to the employee. This is done anonymously and provides a full picture of the strengths and weaknesses of every employee. Feedback can come from managers, co-workers, and even some customers if that is how you want to set it up. This type of feedback should not be included in the performance review process since it is not a look at how they are performing, but rather a way to determine how they can improve personally and within a team as others who work with the employee view it.

The Benefits of 360-Degree Feedback

There are several benefits of using 360-degree feedback within your larger feedback process. Along with other forms of feedback, it can provide a better view of how people work within their team as well as overall performance. These are the main benefits of using 360-degree feedback:

  • It provides a global view – By gathering feedback from different people, you can get a very good idea of strengths and weaknesses. In this process, it is no longer the viewpoint of one individual but rather a collection based on many people that work directly with the employee. Patterns should be noted from this feedback so that a solid idea of these strengths and weaknesses can be understood.
  • It provides continuous growth for employees – During this process, everyone is helping each other improve on how they perform on a day-to-day basis as well as their own personal job growth. This not only helps the employee grow, but it also helps the company grow over time.
  • It assists with career development – As employees are given their list of strengths and weaknesses, they are able to create a plan to improve. They will be able to better develop and grow personally, as well as in their career, in the process.

Mistakes to Avoid with 360-Degree Feedback

While 360-degree feedback is a great system to use within your larger feedback process, there are some mistakes that are commonly made by companies. The first is that there is a lack of follow-up. If you are going to use this method, then you need to make it a point to continuously follow-up with your employees. You will want to see if things have improved, if there are things that are a struggle for the employee, and also see if there is any way you can help them. If you fail to do this, then you run the risk of wasting the effort put in to get the feedback in the first place. The second mistake that companies make is focusing too much on the weaknesses. As part of this process, you will be gathering feedback on strengths and weaknesses so the conversation should be about both. Take the opportunity to tell them what they are good at and then focus on what they can improve.

Annual Performance Reviews

Annual performance reviews are another great method that you can add to your feedback plan. It works best within companies that allow open and honest feedback. However, it is not the best thing to use if you are only doing an annual performance review. It is something that you should use with other forms of feedback as well as frequent check-ins. It is a great way to look back on the year to see what happened, what can be learned from various situations, and how to best move forward. It should not only be a focus on the employee, but also on how various processes can be altered to make the job better for everyone involved.

Drawbacks of Annual Performance Reviews without Constant Feedback

As mentioned, the annual performance review on its own is not a good idea. To give you some insight into this, these are some other main drawbacks of annual performance reviews when it is not accompanied by constant feedback:

  • It may not be tied to data – If a manager is required to remember an employee's performance for the entire year and they do not use data to form the feedback, it will lead to an opinion-based feedback session. This is not the way you want to go because then it is one-sided and perceptions are more likely to be flawed.
  • It can be too formal – If there is no process in place for feedback throughout the year, then the process can appear to be too formal. This can cause stress for the employee, especially if they have no idea what to expect from their feedback.
  • Issues are not addressed in real time – If issues are only addressed at the end of the year, then there can be a big gap in time between the issue occurring and the discussion about it. In reality, these things should be tackled head-on as they happen.

Setting Objectives and Key Results

During annual performance reviews, one of the goals of the meeting is to set objectives for the coming year as well as the key results that you expect from the employees. As part of this process, you should set some high-level objectives and then add some specific key results to them; for example, you may want to discuss sales numbers if the employee is part of the sales team. You should create measurable key results so that it is something that your employees can work to obtain and also something that you can measure in terms of performance over the course of the year. You should also try to set these goals in line with the company's goals. This is important because it allows the employees of the company to work on their own goals while also collectively working toward the goals of the company.

Providing Consistent Feedback

As you can see, consistent feedback is critical. It is not enough to only provide feedback at the end of the year. Feedback is an important part of the employee life cycle and it encourages better engagement. It also gives you a better picture of performance throughout the entire year. The frequency of feedback is the most important component of the feedback process and without consistent check-ins, the benefits of the process will not be seen. Over time, you will see how much this can benefit your company.

Open and Honest Conversations

You do not have to have hour-long conversations every month to provide feedback to make it beneficial. Instead, the focus should be on creating open and honest conversation. This conversation can flow naturally as it is needed, and you can also schedule more formal conversations every quarter or twice a year. This is a rolling process that should be a constant part of the process.

The feedback sessions that are informal can be the most telling. If an employee is not stressed about a formal process, they are more likely to be honest and open with you. Ensure the conversation is authentic and organic so you and the employee will get more out of it. When it is a two-way conversation, both parties can learn from each other and they can learn to work better together.