Any organization, whatever be its size, needs to establish a system of constant feedback. The culture of giving and receiving feedback is what makes it easy for organizations to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses timely and grow stronger. When organizations do not see the importance of feedback culture, they tend to entrap themselves in the same place as they are currently without significant growth.
Many first-time managers or freshers might not understand the immense value feedback brings to the table. But with time, they are sure to realize its value and implement it. Before we go any further into the discussion, let’s understand what employee feedback means.
Employee feedback refers to any information exchanged between employees and the management or vice-versa. This can often be amongst the employees themselves or from the management. It could either be formal or non-formal, but the purpose of such feedback is to analyse an employee’s performance, skills, etc., during their tenure in the company and how that helps or hinders the team’s growth as well as the company’s overall success.
Most companies, especially multinational, engage in yearly reviews as part of their protocol. But more and more companies are discovering the benefits of more frequent reviews or at least formal or informal feedback sessions. The key here is that yearly reviews are good but do not always work out in the best way possible for everyone — it is too late for employees to know where they could have improved and too late for companies to have implemented any suggestions from employees to benefit the company.
The relationship between employee feedback and company culture
While employee feedback frequency tends to vary from company to company, everyone knows their benefits. As mentioned earlier, the feedback mechanism is an indicator of a more inherent factor — the company’s culture. Yes, we can say a lot about a company’s culture from the way it handles its employee feedback.
The first thing we need to remember is that feedback mechanisms are all about listening and it indicates another essential quality that all companies must have — empathy. The consensus is that the more frequent and action-oriented the employee feedback cycle is in a company, the better is its culture.
To drive the point home, we need to realize that companies with regular employee feedback cycles are more likely to listen to their employees and take care of them because they know that for an organization, people are its most valuable asset.
How to collect employee feedback the right way
Yes, there is a right way to collect employee feedback. Managers need to make sure that they initiate discussions with their employees without criticising them. They need to establish the idea that employee feedback is not for criticising but to improve a company’s culture and drive the company towards a more sustainable future.
Whatever your role is, whether you are an HR, a first-time manager, or an entry-level employee, everyone must be aware of the right way to collect and give employee feedback. Take a look on some strategies which might help you to drive healthy employee feedback in your organization.
- Conduct employee feedback discussions regularly
Yes, stick to the routine employee feedback procedure. It is common for most managers to think that feedback is only necessary when something’s broken or there’s some discord within the team. But it’s not at all true. You must show consistency to your team by following the timeline established for the feedback process.
If it’s a weekly employee feedback process, then do that. By keeping the feedback frequent, you can keep discussing the immediate achievements and concerns of each employee without overlooking anything. Regular feedback gives both the employee and the manager the right amount of time to work on the feedback and improve if required. Most importantly, sticking to the routine helps establish a culture of trust and reliability within the team.
- Prepare before employee feedback discussions
Don’t just walk into an employee feedback conversation while still thinking about a project deadline. You must give your full attention to your team members and need to make sure that they are prepared for the process as well. Employee feedback discussions are really important and, when a manager organizes such a session ill-prepared, it sends the wrong message to the whole team.
It shows that you, as their leader, do not take your team seriously and don’t think they deserve your attention. If required, prepared a checklist of things you have in mind before each discussion so that you don’t go astray but make sure that you don’t just read the list out to your employee in a robotic voice. The checklist is to prepare you for the discussion mentally, not read out of it.
- Be specific with your feedback
Each discussion needs to be specific about an employee’s achievement and failures. Your job as their leader is not to judge them but to guide them in the right direction. In certain situations, you might need to point out the not-so-positive aspects of an employee’s performance. In such cases, don’t just say statements like- “You are slacking” or “I have noticed you are not taking responsibility.”
Stay precise and avoid vague sentences that only make them confused. You have to be specific about why you think so and point out cases when the employee must have displayed such traits. This aspect not only helps you explain the situation to your employees but also benefits them immensely because they would now understand what they need to improve about themselves to perform better.
- Stay relevant throughout the discussion
A leader needs to make sure that they don’t keep deviating during employee feedback discussions. Employees take them very seriously, and almost everyone devotes a lot of their time and energy during such sessions. So, as a leader, one needs to value their time. If the discussion is brief then let it be. It is better that you don’t waste their valuable time by talking about something your teammate might not be interested in and wouldn’t help him or her in any way.
- Be constructive, not critical
Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. And the core idea of employee feedback discussions is to talk about an employee’s strengths and weaknesses. While appreciating an employee’s strengths and achievements is easy, pointing out their shortcomings isn’t. It requires equal amounts of tact and honesty for one to explain to somebody how they can improve and be a better version of themselves if they can do certain things differently.
When a manager or leader is constructive, employees are more eager to improve and benefit themselves. They then see it as an opportunity to become better. But being negative or overly critical during such discussions would be belittling employees, and it isn’t a star manager quality.
- Employee feedback discussions must be actionable
As mentioned before, the chief purpose of the employee feedback cycle is to initiate employee improvement and company success, which would be possible only when such discussions are directed towards things that can impact the development of an employee. The key to this is to avoid personal comments and objections.
Remember, your team members are part of your team voluntarily. The moment they realize that they aren’t respected, they will leave. It’s as simple as that. Even when an employee doesn’t perform as well as others in the team, they don’t deserve any kind of personal attack. Instead, one should always try to suggest ways and means to them so that each employee can keep improving during their tenure in the company.
- Stay involved during the feedback process
An employee feedback discussion might bring up many concerns that the employees have. One must pay attention to what they are saying — it is a leader's job to listen to them and help them. It is also important to be receptive and stay open throughout the discussion and ask follow-up questions if required so that you have a better context and understand where the feedback is coming from. This aspect will not only help build trust within the team but establish a transparent culture that encourages similar and honest discussions in the future.
- Take notes during the feedback process
The very fact that you are taking notes of the discussion shows that you are willing to make the required changes for the betterment of the employees and the company. Taking notes will help you remember the points discussed, in case you forget them in your busy schedule. You can always go back to the notes taken, make comparisons, and track the employee’s performance as well as your contribution to their improved performance. This process would make your job easy, and you can go back to the notes and come up with better review processes if required.
Follow these employee feedback strategies and initiate regular and honest employee feedback discussions within your team and in the company at large too. Remember that such discussions are essential to improve employee engagement in your company. Employee feedback discussions will help you discover unexplored faults in the system and create a better ecosystem for your team not just to survive, but to thrive.