A 2016 Forbes article noted that only 29% of 30,000 employees were “always” aware of their performance at work. This is a concerning statistic for many organizations. For the most effective professional development and overall organizational growth, everyone should be always aware of personal work progress. In this Astronology® we will discuss professional feedback in 2020 and ways to provide more.
Why aren’t more employees aware of their work performance? The simple answer: lack of feedback. The same Forbes article also explains that nine out of ten managers avoid giving constructive feedback out of fear that an employee will react poorly. Limiting feedback due to fear of a negative response will result in overall poor organizational growth and poor organizational culture. Furthermore, unnecessary confusion and disappointment could result during an employee’s annual performance review upon learning they missed the mark on items that could have been addressed and corrected earlier in the year.
To avoid these consequences, it is essential for leaders to learn how to give professional feedback to employees. What are some best practices? Robert Pozen, Former President of Fidelity Investments, wrote an article for The Harvard Business Review in 2013 highlighting how to give constructive feedback. These timeless tips can be helpful for any form of professional feedback:
• Be sure to praise generously at every opportunity – Robert explains, “I rarely meet an employee who feels that the boss sufficiently values his or her achievements. So, as often as possible, tell your employees how much you appreciate their commitment and hard work.” Generous praise when things are done right will help workers to view all feedback as helpful, not harmful.
• Use corrective feedback wisely and carefully – Not every error needs to be highlighted. Ask yourself, “Is this error necessary to address? Or is this a one-time mistake / slight misjudgment that the employee can correct on their own?” Constantly informing your employees of every mistake can lower productivity and morale. Be selective of what actions need to be corrected and how best to address.
• Make sure to deliver your criticism in private – The goal of providing feedback, especially corrective feedback, is to help an employee. Embarrassing them by sharing their errors with others will often cause a regression in performance. At a minimum, find an area where you can communicate your feedback without an audience.
Feedback in 2020
2020 has been a challenging year for us all! The COVID-19 pandemic has moved most workforces to remote work status. This lack of in-person contact has resulted in professional feedback becoming even more difficult to convey. Although some locations are slowly opening up, we all agree that there will be a “new normal” in our workspaces which will require limited in-office staff with staggered work schedules and regular remote workdays.
With this “new normal,” we must find ways to provide feedback to our workers. What can leaders do to continue feedback and communication during remote work? Surprisingly, the suggestions listed above are increasingly encouraged during the time of COVID-19 … just with a digital twist! B. Building Business, a Dutch commercial real estate company, posted these helpful tips on their blog:
• Give Good Feedback: “Remote working requires a more thoughtful approach because teams are now more independent, less monitored and often less easily engaged. In short, how you give feedback can have a dramatic difference in maintaining order, activity, and morale during COVID-19,” states the blog.
• Use Video: By now we’ve all gotten used to video conferencing tools such as GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. But have we really understood why it is important that we use these tools? One of the unfortunate ripples from our fight against COVID-19 is isolation and loneliness. To combat these elements, video conferencing gives us some form of face to face contact. “Using video is critical to establishing a human connection with your team [while] they’re remote, and that’s good not only for the quality of feedback but also for the team’s spirit,” states the blog.
• Increase Frequency: A 2012 Harvard Business Review article highlighted that increased communication resulted in higher engagement and higher morale at work. That finding remains true today. Since employee engagement and work morale are often hindered for remote workers, the most effective way to encourage engagement and work morale is to increase communication. The blog states, “COVID-19 has torn down the familiar ways of giving frequent feedback, so it’s imperative that you build it back up…” Tools such as instant messaging allow for short but meaningful chats with employees. You can use a combination of video conferencing and instant messaging to give more frequent, daily feedback to employees. Also, initiate regular team meetings to positively reinforce employees’ work and develop work camaraderie.
• Adapt Your Feedback: “Celebrate the small things,” the blog expresses. The expectations of work performance at the office will be different than the work performed remotely. At this time, it is best to assess performance and contributions based on employees’ increased flexibility in their deliverance. Highlighting the positive adjustments employees make will keep motivation high and will open a worker to listening to any feedback and motivate adjustments to increase quality of work.
• Maintain Regular (Video) One-on-One Sessions: If possible, one-on-one meetings should be a weekly activity. This meeting can range from 15 to 30 minutes to go over project necessities, as well as discuss work successes and needed work adjustments. Equally important, these meetings also allow leaders to see how employees are faring on an emotional level with remote work and life under COVID-19.
The theme of regular, positive feedback seems to be the key element when giving professional feedback to employees. What are some ways your organization is keeping close communication with and providing feedback to employees? Share your thoughts below!