Why is feedback important?
The word “feedback” has become ubiquitous in modern language speak. It is used so often; its value can often get lost. The ultimate goal of feedback within a team is to create harmony and unity through reflection and personal growth. Creating a high-performing team where everyone is working in sync takes time and effort. Successful teams aren’t created overnight. Jurgen Klopp became manager of Liverpool FC in October 2015. It has taken almost five years of hard work to build a Premiership winning team. Over that period, he has spent hours with his players, providing constructive feedback on their performance, praising them for what they are doing well and providing guidance on the aspects of their game he wants to improve to reach his ultimate goal.
Players need that communication to understand what their role is and how they can be as effective as possible. Without this clear guidance, they can lose confidence in their own abilities, start doubting themselves and become disillusioned with their environment. Employees are no different. In exactly the same way, employees thrive when they have a clear understanding of what they are doing well and how they can best contribute to the business.
“I believe feedback is important, so employees are self-aware and feel empowered to openly discuss learning and development needs”, says Sallyanne Fraser, Learning and Development Co-ordinator, ARAG Legal Insurance. “In order to have healthy, ongoing conversations, employees need to have their achievements recognised and be aware of what their growth opportunities are.”
Feedback is for everyone
Feedback is not just a one-way process. Just as employees need to know what they are doing well and what they could improve, managers need to have the same kind of information. Four in 10 line managers don’t receive any kind of management training, so feedback from their colleagues and direct reports is vital in order to hone their skills and learn how to manage people effectively. Without this valuable information, they could make the same mistakes again and again without realising where they are going wrong. Similarly, its invaluable for them to know what employees appreciate and what support and guidance works best.
The tone is set from the top
The days when senior leaders were expected to have all the answers and give directives from the top have gone. They are human and fallible and can make mistakes the same as anyone else. When it comes to feedback, their actions set the tone for the whole organisation. If they are genuinely open to feedback from the organisation, acknowledge it and act upon it, it will encourage everyone to do the same. It’s crucial that there is a supportive and positive atmosphere where employees feel encouraged to both ask for it and to give it. Without it, feedback can become negative and accusatory or employees feel put off giving any at all.
Getting it right in practice
Any business has its own unique culture and practices. The processes they put in place need to complement their environment. While employees offering extraordinarily candid feedback seems to suit Netflix, Shopify follow a more coaching-driven approach. The managers there, known as leads, spend a large amount of time nurturing their direct reports, assessing their progress each month. Both companies have grown rapidly and are enormously successful, showing there is not only one correct approach. Getting feedback right is about establishing the process that works for your organisation.
“At Clarity Travel, we are passionate and welcome feedback as we believe it’s very important, powerful and valuable”, says Neil Wainwright-Farrar, Head of Learning and Development. “The 360 approach works for our organisation. It helps an appraiser prepare and conduct a review with their team. It also helps to substantiate the work and efforts that an appraisee may do for colleagues which could otherwise go unnoticed. It allows appraisees to see their success but also any areas which they could make tweaks or improvements on, which can then contribute towards business success.”
What do employees want?
In 2019, we conducted research about 1:2:1 reviews or check-ins with employees. In that, we discovered the thing they valued most about these regular catch ups was the chance to give and receive feedback. To find out more about what employees think about the feedback they currently get and what they want out of it, we commissioned further research. The findings indicate that employees do want feedback; only 9% would not like to work in an organisation that embraces it. However, in many areas the level and quality of feedback they are receiving is falling short.
Our new report detailing the full findings and practical tips for getting feedback right is out in September. If you would like to receive a copy, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org