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The direction employee feedback needs to be heading in

1st December 2016

 
Mention employee feedback, and what will likely spring to mind for most, are:
 
– employee surveys
– annual reviews
– training evaluations
 
But what is now starting to be widely understood, is the simple fact that feedback is actually all around us – all of the time.
 
This understanding, combined with new generational needs, new technology, and the ever growing importance being placed on engaging employees – has created somewhat of a perfect storm.
 
A storm which is now forcing organisations to change their approach towards employee feedback – if they are to experience the huge advantages effective feedback offers.
 
In this post we are going to take a look at feedback, and how it is developing. Which we will do, by covering the following key areas:
 
1. Why feedback is so important
2. The problems with the current ways of providing feedback
3. Employees feedback requirements
4. The role new technology is playing
5. The role management needs to be playing

 
 
 

1. Why feedback is so important

We see there being three key benefits of feedback. These being:
 
 

1. Motivation

Not only can employee motivation be increased through the feedback they are given. But conversely, asking for their feedback and input is also highly motivating. Soliciting feedback from, and giving feedback to employees, allows them to experience a sense of self-worth – predominantly through recognition. Simply, the feeling of being appreciated and valued is highly motivating.
 
 

2. Performance

Frustratingly, feedback is all too easily mistaken as negative criticism. Feedback should always be viewed as a form of communication needed to improve something. It is why arguably, the best type of feedback is not negative criticism, but constructive criticism. It’s worth remembering that feedback is used so that performance can be continually improved. Therefore, it should highlight not only the weak areas, but the stronger one’s too.
 
 

3. Learning

Closely linked to performance. The best organisations are those that are constantly learning. Learning about what their employees know, can do, think and feel. And using this feedback/insight to make better decisions, shape more effective communications, and build appropriate environments for them to operate within.
 
Feedback given to the employees, also helps employees to stay educated and updated on their organisations plans and goals. Learning, which they can then use to help inform their own actions and decisions to best benefit the organisation.
 
Clearly, continued learning is key to constantly improving and staying competitive. Both for an employee, and an organisation as a whole.
 
What we hope the three key benefits should have highlighted, is just how important feedback is.
 
It’s no surprise that the leading organisations are those that place a great value on effective feedback. As these top organisations know that what the key benefits of feedback help create, is a highly engaged employee.
 
And it is highly engaged employees that all organisations must strive to achieve – given the huge effect engaged employees have on the success – and bottom line – of an organisation.
 
 
 
 

2. The problems with the current ways of providing feedback

 

We’ll get straight to it.
 
Feedback has tended to be focussed on an annual performance review. Yet, yearly goals are fast becoming a thing of the past.
 
Why? Well, the world of work is changing faster than ever. And this change is inevitably being felt by employees and reflected in their day to day roles.
 
Diane Gherson, IBM’s chief human resource officer, recognises this problem all too well.
 
 

During the year, new things will come along. Employees are iterating and experimenting, and oftentimes that means they’re not necessarily working towards what they originally listed as an annual objective.
 
Nevertheless, employees would end up in an irrelevant discussion in December, trying to assess whether they’d fulfilled the goals they’d drafted 11 months earlier.

 
 
In fact, Quantum Workplace, in their recent survey – ‘
State of Employee Feedback’ – revealed that disengaged organizations are the most likely to use annual performance reviews.
 
As you can see above. When engagement levels increase, organisations were less likely to say they used annual feedback.
 
 
annualperformanceengagementlevel
 
 
Clearly, annual reviews are not the greatest form of feedback. Furthermore, they aren’t even an accurate representation of employee performance.
 
A much more accurate picture of employee performance can be painted through the use of a consistent communication – feedback – loop that exists between an employee and other employees and managers. Consistent communication and feedback is what employees are now demanding. As it provides employees with the feedback they need for motivation, performance, learning. And allows employers to have a clear, up to date picture of employee performance.
 
We will now identify some of the other problems of feedback, by revealing what else it is employees are demanding from employer feedback programs.
 
 
 
 

3. Employees feedback requirements

 

Real time feedback

According to PwC, nearly 60% of survey respondents reported that they would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis – a number that increased to 72% for employees under the age of 30.
 
Furthermore, 80% of GEN Y said that they would prefer on the spot feedback and recognition over more formal reviews.
 
The above findings tie back into the opening point in this post. That being how feedback is actually all around us – all of the time. And so it should be given when it occurs – in the moment.
 
 

Recognition

 

69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognised.

(Jack Zenger & Joseph Folkman, 2014)

 
 
Recognition programs are very much on the rise at highly engaged organisations. These are not just programs whereby employees are recognised by their superiors. But peer-to-peer recognition programs. The latter are what are providing the greatest benefit for organisations.
 
And again as we touched upon earlier, recognition isn’t solely concerned with positive feedback and praise. Employees want to learn, grow and develop. Thus they place great importance on receiving constructive negative feedback.
 
 

Action

Ultimately, the upshot of feedback needs to be relevant action taking place. That is either action by the employee, or by the organisation. This is an important part of the feedback loop. A loop that will contain:
 
Action – feedback to the action – understanding of the feedback – implementation of the feedback – action.
 
It is important for internal communicators that they are involved in communicating the actions being taken by employees and organisations in response to the feedback obtained. Employees must feel that their feedback is being used. Otherwise they will simply see there being no point in giving any.
 
What is helping to deliver the feedback requirements of employees, is technology. Which we will now briefly touch upon.
 
 
 
 

The role new technology is playing

 

A new market has emerged: Employee feedback apps for the corporate marketplace. These tools are powerful and disruptive, and they have the potential to redefine how we manage our organisations.

Josh Bersin, Deloitte (2016)

 
 
Bersin believes that just as customer feedback has transformed the customer experience, employee feedback is transforming the employee experience. And technology, particularly feedback apps, are a huge part in this transformation.
 
There is now an abundance of feedback apps available.
 
Reflektive, RoundPegg, Impraise, Weekdone, TinyPulse, Culture Amp, 15Five, Qualtrics employee engagement, Kudos, and OfficevVibe.
 
The above are just ten of the many out there on the market. Each offering varying ways to improve employee engagement. By focussing on providing key services such as:
 
 
– Pulse surveys
– Anonymous feedback
– Social recognition
– Peer-to-peer feedback
 
 
Many of the ‘killer apps’ have elements of all integrated into their service. And cleverly they are able to integrate with other corporate tools – such as email – so as to create a simple and seamless user experience. Something that is key for success.
 
Interestingly, the rise in employee feedback apps, is fuelling the development of another key area – people analytics. Quite simply, feedback apps have the ability to tell you something is not right. But you still need to analyse the data to identify exactly what the problem is and so how best to solve it.
 
 
trends-employee-mood
 
 
It all comes down to the fact that the single leading predictor of business unit profitability is employee engagement. Organisations now realise that to dramatically improve employee engagement it’s what they do with current and actionable data that matters most. And it is technology that will help them to achieve this.
 
 
 
 

Role of management

Let’s be clear on something.
 
Real, face to face, one-on-ones are – and always will be – the most effective communication strategy. Research regularly shows that employees level of engagement is directly linked to the relationship they have with their direct line of management.
 
Frustratingly, the employee-manager channel for feedback, is still relatively weak and ineffective.
 
This is due to a few key reasons:
 
1. Managers often don’t feel comfortable in giving the negative – constructive – feedback that employees are seeking for career development.
 
2. Managers want their direct employees to be viewed in a positive light. So will refrain from giving too much feedback out of a fear of their employees being seen as weak.
 
3. Managers are not actually proficient in delivering effective feedback. Owing to a lack of training.
 
 
Internal communications again play an important role here in supporting managers when it comes to providing effective feedback.
 
Training managers to build this essential skill is key. And then being there to support them during any difficult times they may face when giving feedback.
 
Feedback is an essential leadership and management skill. And critical in boosting employee and team performance.
 
 
 
 

Conclusion

What should now be clear, is what all organisations need to focus on is building a culture of feedback.
 
A culture of feedback that is always on and operating.
 
Developing any type of culture is achieved through educating those on the benefits the new required behaviours will bring. After initial education and awareness, the delivery of appropriate training is required – both to each and every employee and importantly, leadership. It will then fall upon leadership to talk the talk and walk the walk – to drive the new behaviours that the culture requires.
 
Feedback has always been important. It’s just now it needs to adapt in accordance with the changing way of work. A change that means feedback has become more important than ever.
 
If you do require help with your approach to building a culture of feedback within your organisation – and how best to engage management on effective feedback. Then please do get in touch with us here at Rima. It’s an area we’ve got great experience in.
 
Until next time…
 
Rima
 
 

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