For starters, they do not prefer waiting twelve months to know how they have been doing. What they want instead is transparent communication, real-time and continuous feedback, a constant avenue for professional growth and coaching by managers and leaders alike.
Quality feedback is important for any organization as it helps improve worker engagement as well as increase productivity. According to a study by PwC, nearly 60% of survey respondents reported that they would like feedback on a daily or a weekly basis. This number increased to 72% for employees under the age of 30.
Starting these regular formal and informal feedback sessions with employees is no longer an option. It is a must and can define employee engagement and productivity levels of an organization’s workforce. But feedback is a vast concept and includes way more than a simple mention of telling the employee how he has been doing. Feedback requires proper planning, time allotment and context if it needs to be made effective. Otherwise, it is an entire waste of time.
Here are some of the ways in which feedback can be made as effective as possible so that it leads to positive outcomes rather than just turning into a process no one cares about.
1. Training managers on the importance and delivery of feedback
54% of millennials have reported having frequently felt that their manager is unprepared to give feedback during performance reviews.
But are these managers even trained enough to understand the value that feedback brings with it. More importantly, do they have a genuine concern for the employee they are giving feedback to? Managers need to be made accountable to ensure that they deliver consistent and quality feedback to their team members, but organizations also need to look into making their managers understand concepts such as accountability and leadership.
Managers also need to be coached and offered the best strategies so that they can manage the burden of leading their own teams with the right kind of knowledge and guidance. They also need frequent guidance, and they also want their lives to get easier. Every organization is different and there cannot be a one size fits all approach. But what can be done is to create a system where everyone is treated fairly, and given a true chance to be the best versions of themselves.
2. A transparent performance management process
Feedback is a major part of any performance management process. Goals and expectations for employees need to be set clearly from the very beginning. Unclear goals or targets will make employees confused, and unable to do the best they can. When employees can see the value that their contribution can have towards a much bigger cause, they are intrinsically motivated to achieve their goals.
Effective goal setting and making performance reviews and feedback transparent is hence extremely critical. Employees need to be kept on track and updated about new developments, should be clearly told about short term and long term goals and how they align with organizational objectives.
3. Robust communication across hierarchies
A great feedback process is a characteristic of a great organizational culture. Company culture works on a trickle-down effect. Unless and until top leadership is genuinely willing to do what it takes to cater to the cultural issues, success remains a Utopian concept. Leaders and managers need to lead by example, displaying the right attitude and keeping the door open for employees to feel free to communicate openly.
This is what is referred to as psychological safety within organizations. Employees need to feel like they can walk up to their leaders and highlight their issues. Leaders have the responsibility of not being invisible, but actively participating in transparent communication and answering queries as and when required. Surveys, group meetings, and regular reviews can help facilitate this proactive process.
4. Honest conversations about expectations and reviews
While employee feedback needs to be positive and constructive, it cannot be false. Employees are not stupid. They know when something is genuine and when it’s not. If they figure out the feedback is false, they will lose faith in the entire system. It will not only diminish the value of what managers say but also the way the entire organization views feedback. This is why feedback needs to be honest, kind and sincere.
Similarly, when employees know what is expected out of them, they perform better. Examples to substantiate points can add more clarity to setting targets up.
5. Two-way process
Most feedback sessions end up being a one-way street with the employee only listening to the manager talking. This is not a good situation to be in as it does not signify collaboration or fairness as a principle. Feedback needs to be both ways, where even the employee can share manager reviews. This enables both parties to understand each other better and work together towards mutual improvement.
Reviews should be about conversations, rather than one person going into speech mode. Rapport needs to be built both ways by listening and being empathetic.