A company is, what its employees make it. Employees, in turn, deliver however the company treats it. So, for any company to function smoothly and efficiently, its employees need to be channeled towards a common goal of success. ‘Effective feedback’ is a methodical way to direct employees towards the desired goal.
When any effective approval or criticism of a previous action is communicated to an employee or another individual/s, it is called ‘feedback’. Effective feedback, both positive and negative, is very helpful. It further allows the building and maintenance of good communication with others as it is also used to make better-informed decisions.
‘Employee Performance Feedback’ is the response to employees’ performances, both expected and exhibited, from their manager. It is a measure to review the progress of overall goals for a year. Effective feedback allows the person to modify their course of action to attain fruitful goals. The simple step included in this is to inform the employee whether he/she is in the right direction in terms of achieving agreed annual goals or not.
While providing feedback, always keep in mind, that, employees want to be treated with dignity and they should know and can handle the truth. Feedback allows people to modify their behavior to help them attain their goals.
Negative feedback results to loss of productivity and can hamper the level of commitment. The situation is worse if the feedback is delivered publicly. It is embarrassing and disheartening, leading to loss of productivity. Secondly, the quality of work is diminished when the ability to actively ‘listen and respond’ is compromised. Additionally, negative feedback leads to workplace stress, affecting the health and well-being of employees, which further promotes absenteeism or unwillingness to come to the office regularly. Reduction in employee turnover can become widespread leading to major loses. Also, when no due credit is given, an employee’s self-esteem is hurt. He/she feels betrayed and indifferent. Consequently, the company loses a valuable employee.
How should effective feedback be like?
- Employees need endless feedbacks than endless criticism. Avoid accusatory language, such as “it is always you,” “you never do that”, or “you always fail to impress”. Instead, talk about the impact of that action/behavior on the company or other individuals. The point is to explain that the problem affects the company. Also, emphasize that it isn’t personal.
- Managers must be FAIR, ASSERTIVE and HONEST. They have to say what must be said and whenever it needs to be said to the person, whether they like it or not.
- Managers must always appreciate an action/behavior, beyond the pocket-book, that needs to be repeated to achieve success.
- Managers must identify the gap between objectives and expectations. Guide/coach employees on how to overcome barriers in performances.
- Sounding positive while giving a feedback is essential. “I am giving you these comments because I have very high expectations from you, and I know you can reach them” or something similar, to boost the confidence of an employee is very important.
- Using ‘4i’ language during feedback session is essential to giving effective feedback.
Importance – Make the employee feel as an important resource of the organization. Emphasize on the fact that his/her quality contribution is essential to both their personal and the company’s overall growth.
Invitation – State how high your expectations are of him/her in accordance to their capacity. Together, figure out ways to achieve that.
Implication – Always pay attention to whether your feedback is being taken positively or negatively. Encourage positivity and emphasize on the fact that you want that person to develop in his career path. Always be polite when being critical of an employee’s action/behavior.
As a recipient of performance feedback, it’s extremely critical to understand feedback in the right perspective. There are a few basic guidelines for performance appraisal, they are:
- It’s an opportunity to present your achievements and development areas in the right
perspective (Accurate Self- Assessment)
- Evaluating Objectives Vs Measurement Criteria related to a job/project
- Measuring Behavior/Values in a professional environment
- It’s an instrument which facilitates receiving both positive and negative feedbacks & takes
corrective action for self-development
- Appraisal also focuses on Competence Development & not merely Performance evaluation
But more often than not, feedback is not accepted in the right sense by the majority in the industry which leads to turbulence in the working environment, disengagement & animosity amongst the supervisor & subordinates. Feedback can be positive, negative, neutral and development-oriented. I believe we need to look at feedback as a ‘Power Booster’ which will help us realize strengths, development areas, and potentials in the journey ahead.
It’s extremely important to broaden our heart & mind when we receive negative feedback as it can work completely counterproductive if we do not take it in our stride. I agree that feedback is a very subjective & person-dependent outfit. But, if you look at high achievers in the IT industry, sports, artists etc. they attribute their success to the constant feedbacks & its impact on their performance. We have a choice of feeling completely dejected & let down by managers/supervisors about the feedback they have given or absorb the data & introspect without any prejudice, to see if feedbacks can really help you to up your competence levels & start making a difference to your own life.
I would like to share a few tips on how to deal with negative/development-oriented feedbacks:
1. Review the complete feedback without reacting to what is being told/written.
- Our first instinct in such situations will be to get defensive & start counting reasons.
- What is he/she concerned about? What are the key issues raised by supervisor?
- Why is he/she reacting this way & what could be the concerns?
2. On receiving feedback, do not look at the person but focus on the role.
- Do not mix your identity with career, instead focus on the role & reflect the feedback on
performance of that role.
3. Be comfortable with criticism & take it in a constructive way, as it is focused on your role
and not your personality.
- When criticized, it’s not easy to absorb, but do not take it personally. You need to see
things with a different perspective.
4. In a professional career, there will be many UPs & DOWNs, but treat feedback as a tool
for self-transformation. Feedback is the ‘Breakfast of Champions’.
- It’s extremely critical to know that career is a journey & not a destination. We need to
learn & enjoy every experience coming our way.
5. Let’s own up mistakes & be willing to learn from every experience.
- It takes a lion-heart to accept mistakes and work on improving them. Set a
self-discipline of not repeating any mistake. This is a journey towards growth.
6. Know that “Man is the maker of his destiny”.
We are the masters of our life, we must take charge, create interventions to transform our future & redefine our destiny. The above points are purely based on my personal/professional experience in the industry. Hope these learnings will be helpful in dealing with performance feedback. It’s not easy to handle feedback but if we learn the art of dealing with it, it’ll go a long way in transforming our lives.
About the Author
Naganagouda SJ is the Vice President & Head – Human Resources at GlobalEdge Software, He is an avid speaker and motivator, and has been awarded multiple times for his leadership and vision. He can be reached at email@example.com.