If you are a leader in an organization or in your own small business, it falls on your shoulders, the responsibility for giving feedback. We all know the importance of doing so, but if you are like many, giving feedback can often fall down to the bottom of the “things to do” list.
Did you know that according to a survey conducted by OfficeVibe, 65% of employees said they want to receive more feedback on their performance and 4/10 workers are actively disengaged when they get little or no feedback.
If that weren’t enough to get your attention, how about that companies who implement regular feedback into their management systems, have 14.9% lower employee turnover. In other words, if you want a better chance of keeping your employees…you need to talk to them.
So why can giving feedback seem so hard?
There are a couple of reasons. The first one is, in general, people are more apt to tell you when you are doing something wrong, instead of when you are doing it right. You might laugh, but you know it is true. We are conditioned to point out when things are going off the rails, in hopes that by pointing it out, someone will be able to fix it. When things are going well, we don’t even really notice it, because there is nothing to make us stop and question that it is. We just go along our merry way and never give it much thought.
The second reason is for most leaders, when someone isn’t producing the result we expect to see, it is easier to question ourselves (at least initially). Did I give them the right instruction? Did I make the right hire? Is the work too difficult? Did I not explain myself correctly? They fall into the trap of questioning, rather than engaging with the other person to understand where the communication breakdown exists. They don’t want any sort of conflict, so instead they avoid.
Finally, we are not open to feedback ourselves. If you are an individual who hates to receive feedback, because for you it means you have somehow failed, then you will be less likely to give feedback to someone else. You will not want them to feel what you feel, when you get feedback, so you simply won’t do it. It comes down to your experience with feedback. If you have only ever heard negative feedback, then that is how you will see giving feedback…negative.
So, what is the answer?
There are a couple of things you can do, to turn this around. One of the easiest is to take five minutes at the end of each day and write down two things that went really in your organization, department or company that day. Just two, but make sure you do it regularly. After you identify those two things, figure out who was responsible and go give them feedback related to it. Tell them specifically how what they did, created such a great result. Make it about giving positive feedback, so when you do naturally correct them at other times, there is a balance.
If you do this often it will change your own beliefs about giving feedback. You will engage with your employees around the positive things going on, rather than only when something needs to be corrected. Finally, you will see how the performance in the organization will get stronger and stronger, over time. People want to do a good job and when you help them to see how they can, it will make all the difference.