Updated January 2018
The Importance of Employee Feedback
What You’ll Learn In This Guide
- The importance of employee feedback
- How to get buy-in from your leadership team
- The truth behind the annual review
Employee feedback is one of the most important things you can do for your employees and for your company.
Without this crucial feedback, delivered consistently, growth is impossible and not just professional growth for your employees. Feedback impacts bottom line financial growth, leadership growth for your managers, employee engagement growth and even growth in your workplace culture.
It’s shocking that all that growth can be attributed to consistent employee feedback, but it’s absolutely true.
Another truth? Most managers hate giving feedback or dealing with any sort of performance conversation and many employees mistake constructive feedback with negative performance.
Taking the sting out of employee feedback and recognizing the positive impact consistent performance conversations can have on your organization is essential to moving your company forward.
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Employee Feedback Stats
- 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 age 30. (source)
- More than 75% of respondents believe that feedback is valuable. About 45% of respondents also value feedback from their peers and clients or customers, yet less than 30% said they receive it. (Source)
- In one study of 65,672 employees, Gallup found those who received strengths feedback had turnover rates that were 14.9% lower than for employees who received no feedback (controlling for job type and tenure).
- A study of 530 work units with productivity data found that teams with managers who received strengths feedback showed 12.5% greater productivity post-intervention than teams with managers who received no feedback.
- A study of 469 business units ranging from retail stores to large manufacturing facilities, Gallup found that units with managers who received strengths feedback showed 8.9% greater profitability post-intervention relative to units in which the manager received no feedback.
- 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.
- 92% of respondents agreed with the assertion, “Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.”
- 80% of Gen Y said they prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews.
- 77% of HR execs believe performance reviews aren’t an accurate representation of employee performance.
- 53% of employers said they don’t actively track improved performance.(source)
- 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week.
- Employees whose managers regularly communicate with them are nearly three times more engaged than those with managers who don’t regularly communicate.
- One in five employees are not confident their manager will provide regular, constructive feedback.
How to Get Execs to Sign off on Employee Feedback Programs
How to Get Exec Buy-in for Microfeedback System for Continuous Performance Management
If you’re ready to move to continuous performance management but your executive team isn’t quite on board yet, we have just what you need to convince them!
Before the Pitch
Do your research! Find and gather past performance management system inefficiencies that highlight how continuous feedback would have solved the problem sooner. Then provide specific examples that touch on the following points:
Specific Performance Problem: Not able to consistently reach sales goals
Outcome with Traditional System: Doesn’t address missed goals until after the fact
Potential Outcome with Continuous Feedback: Proactively begins that conversation within the first few weeks of lowered results
Potential Intangible Benefits: The employee feels safe to explain difficulties
Potential Tangible Benefits: Higher rate of sales and happier customers
Create Your Own:
Specific Performance Problem:
Outcome with Traditional System:
Potential Outcome with Continuous Feedback:
Potential Intangible Benefits:
Potential Tangible Benefits:
During the Pitch
Speak to the entire impact microfeedback will have on all departments so executives can visualize the big picture and not focus on micro-details. The point of your pitch is to get them excited and interested in this concept, not overwhelm them with the logistics of the transition. Check out our process flowchart for transitioning to a microfeedback performance system.
Personalize Your Pitch. For every member in your pitch write down their name, title and a key tie in you’ll incorporate:
Name: Title: Tie-In:
_______________ ______________ _______________
_______________ ______________ _______________
_______________ ______________ _______________
_______________ ______________ _______________
_______________ ______________ _______________
_______________ ______________ _______________
_______________ ______________ _______________
After the Pitch
Follow up with a recap of your presenttieation that outlines main points, questions that were asked and a recap of your answers. End the email with additional details, logistics you’ve researched and ask the execs what they need from you next to get the ball rolling. Make sure to ask what their major concerns are with transitioning to the new feedback system, so you can continue the cycle of getting approval.
10 Reasons to Switch to a Microfeedback System
Waiting 6 months or a year to discuss employee performance can make employees feel neglected, undervalued and disengaged.
- 58% of managers said performance reviews are not an effective use of time.
- 1 out of 5 employees surveyed believes their bosses don’t even think about the appraisal until they’re in the room.
- Half of the employees surveyed felt they had had an unfair appraisal.
- 44% don’t think their boss was honest during the process.
- 45% of HR leaders don’t think annual performance reviews are an accurate appraisal for employees’ work.
- 30% of performance reviews ended up in decreased employee performance, according to a meta-analysis of 607 studies.
- Certain performance reviews don’t always encourage development, 48% say their performance processes are “weak” in improving development and driving business value.
- 90% of appraisals are painful and don’t work and they produce an extremely low percentage of top performers.
- 81% of surveyed employees would forego high-quality workplace perks just to join a company that values open communication.
- Companies that implement regular feedback with their employees experience 15% lower turnover rates and their employees are 4 times more likely to score at the top of Bersin by Deloitte’s Total Performance Index!
Getting Budget for Better Performance Management in 2018
How can you get budget approval to build a performance culture?
Step 1: Research
You have to be able to convince your executives that there’s a problem. Harvard Business Review says:
“If they don’t already perceive an idea’s relevance to organizational performance, they don’t deem it important enough to merit their attention.”
Essentially, if they don’t see how a new performance management system is going to help, they won’t care. So find out exactly how your current performance management system is lacking, and how the new system with solve those problems.
Give specific examples, and explain how it supports a strategic goal. Your first instinct may be to rave about all the great benefits of performance management, but you also need to focus on the issues.Want to get your budget ready to better your #performancemanagement? Here’s how: Click To Tweet
Why You Need Microfeedback
- Only 13% of employees worldwide are psychologically committed to their jobs.
- 1 out of 5 employees surveyed think their bosses don’t even think about the performance review until they’re in the room.
- Only 14% of organizations are happy with their performance management system.
- Companies that implement regular feedback have a 14.9% lower turnover rate.
- 60% of Best-in-Class organizations said employee recognition is very valuable in driving individual performance.
Even GE is getting in on the performance feedback train:
“Experts say conducting more-frequent evaluations also appeals to an increasingly younger workforce that appreciates fast feedback from colleagues because they were raised on instant communication such as text and video messaging.” — SHRM
Step 2: Pitch
This is actually a two-part step, but the extra work will be worth it. You’ve got to make sure your pitch is en pointe: 70% of employed Americans who give presentations agree that presentation skills are critical to their success at work.
How to Pitch Like a Pro
Pitching a new idea for your boss can go seamlessly by implementing these strategies:
- Stay on topic: Don’t stray off to minor details that don’t address the specific case you are trying to make or it may distract from your main points.
- Inform, not overwhelm: As much as you want to give all the details and are excited to tell give every minor numbers and ideas…focus on exactly what you need them to know and get to the point. Once they approve it, then you can go over the little details and extra ideas that go along with it.
- Prepare the pitch & YOURSELF: You could have all the essentials, numbers and charts for your idea but make sure YOU are prepared to answer any questions about your findings.
- Reduce the risk: Show your management how the success of your proposal will increase productivity and engagement. Show the goals that you’re wanting to reach with the new software on a timeline.
- Come in with a clear plan: Show that you can take charge and use time management to take on a new software and use it to improve performance reviews. Prove that you have the leadership and management skills to handle implementing new reviews.
- Defend it: Not everyone will be willing to jump on board. You will have people asking questions and doubting your proposal. Have that knowledge to defend it, back it up with facts and show that you’re passionate about better performance reviews and how it can benefit your employees.
- WIIFM: “What’s in it for me?” Will be a question your boss will ask or how will this benefit the company? Focus on the potential of your idea and how you will get it done.
Part 3: Prep
When it comes to creating your presentation, the most important thing remember is this: Keep it simple! You don’t want your execs to be bored to death, and 46% admit that they’ve been distracted during a co-worker’s presentation. Make sure that presentation is easy to follow. It’ll help to come up with a basic thesis: something small you can say in 15 words or less that will make your pitch stick in their minds.
Next you’ll want to design the presentation itself. Despite the bad press PowerPoint gets, it’s an effective tool to get your information across: 80% said that PowerPoint helped them identify the most important information in a presentation. It’s recommended to follow the 10-20-30 rule when it comes to PowerPoint. You should have no more than 10 slides, the presentation should last no more than 20 minutes, and your font should be no less than 30 point. Finally, it’s a good idea to put all the data you’ve collected into visuals. Graphs and charts linger in your exec’s minds, while raw numbers go in one ear and out the other.
Part 4: Present
First of all, take a deep breath and relax. You’re trying to help your business perform better and save money, and everyone is rooting for you to succeed. After that, you’ll want to focus on being direct and concise. You can’t hope that your bosses are going magically know what you’re getting at; you have to come right out and say, “This will help. I need money for this.”
That and using the word “imagine” during your presentation will help engage your viewers. “Imagine” pulls people out of the board room and into your beautiful future where a better performance management system has lead to high productivity and employee happiness.
Step 5: Follow Up
This is the easy one. All you have to do here is follow up on your presentation! You’ll want to wait a few days (2 or 3 is recommended), and then send an email. In the email, remind them of some specific details from your pitch; a few main ideas or data points should suffice.
Recap any questions they might have had and what your responses were. Finally, ask if there’s anything more you need to do to get the ball rolling. This final point shows you’re passionate about implementing a new performance management system, and willing to do whatever it takes to get it working.
Aligning Employee Feedback with Corporate Values
Only 12% of employees in a Gallup study “strongly agreed” their boss helps them set priorities at work. This is alarming, considering employees don’t always have the high-level view of the organizational goals and strategy like its leaders do.
Define & Align Company Values with Employee Feedback
Step 1: Define Company Values
From administrative assistants to executives, company values reach all roles within an organization. List 5 company values that you believe your company possesses:
(examples: innovative, resourceful, determined, equitable)
Now, ask your entire team to contribute 5 top company values that come to mind. Prompt them with questions to think about like “What makes our company unique?”.
To Do: Make sure everyone responds anonymously without influence from others. Take all of the values and tally them to see which 5 are mentioned the most. A global study found that a commitment to an employer’s core values is a top driver of employee engagement. How can employees be committed if they don’t know what your company values? Make sure the entire company is aware of the company values decided upon.
Bonus: If you have extra time, segment them by seniority level or department to see if commonalities exist within the subcultures of your organization. These can be used later on in the employee feedback process.
Step 2: Align Company Values with Feedback Goals
Sending feedback to employees whether it’s positive or negative is communicated more effectively with attached goals. 85% of employees in a survey said they look to their CEO to reinforce values and 77% say this reinforcement is one of the “most effective” practices for ensuring the company’s values are carried out.
To Do: Even if the CEO isn’t giving out continuous feedback, senior level and management level employees are. Consider tying performance feedback to company values to help organize and align feedback with what matters in your organization.
Bonus: iRevü makes it easy to align company values with feedback. Feedback goals can be customized by organization, department, team or even specifically for individual employees.
Step 3: Report & Make Continuous Changes
Company values can shift over time, and can be different depending on the subcultures or various departments or functions in your organization. The best way to ensure reporting accuracy is to make giving employee feedback a continuous thing.
To Do: Set a weekly goal to provide feedback attached to a company value. 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week.
Bonus: Remember, tying performance feedback into company goals (or feedback goals) gives your feedback sustenance.
“If performance appraisals nominally include values, but there is no senior support behind them, then they are likely to be empty words on a piece of paper. And if the CEO is communicating a set of values, but performance appraisals undermine his or her message, the CEO’s communication is less effective.” – Booz Allen Hamilton
|Core Values List:|
|Accountability||Craftiness||Fresh Ideas||Personal Growth|
|Attention to Detail||Determined||Integrity||Realistic|
|Competitive||Focus on Future||Patience||Stability|
Change is good. It can be a sign of progress, moving forward, and is inevitable in every aspect of our lives. But try telling that to a gang of frustrated employees who just found out their company is being restructured! The task of managing change is a difficult one and will most certainly be resisted, which is why it’s so important for managers to do everything in their power to have a workforce that is conditioned to expect, accept and embrace change. But how do they do this?
Well, in a broader sense, it begins with relationships and how managers instill trust in their people. The greatest way to instill that kind of trust? Ongoing, constructive communication AKA continuous feedback! But, the benefits don’t stop there. Feedback of any kind can be extremely beneficial to both you and your employees in more ways than one. Aside from helping your team to manage and accept change in a productive manner, continuous feedback also helps with:
- Performance reviews
- Improved performance
- Better communication
- Continuous learning
- Employee satisfaction
- Employee engagement
To drive these points home, here are just a few reasons continuous feedback is the way to go.
Continuous feedback is the new performance review
According to recent CEB research, 77% of HR execs believe performance reviews aren’t an accurate representation of employee performance. What’s even more startling is that there is no verifiable evidence to prove performance reviews have an effect on business goals. And this has been a business norm for how long?
So, basically performance reviews, at least done traditionally and once a year, are a huge waste of resources. This is the reason companies like Adobe, Microsoft and Google are reevaluating their current processes and switching to monthly or quarterly performance reviews. With continuous feedback, managers can assess and correct performance as it’s happening, saving employers a lot of time and money. Not to mention your employees hate it.
For a second, put yourself in their shoes. Twice a year, you go see a manager you rarely talk to and get told what you’re doing wrong and/or what you’re doing right. That doesn’t exactly seem fair does it? But, allowing for this continuous feedback means you are always in the know about what your employers are thinking and they can easily provide you with insight and advice so you can work to improve.
Putting our HR hats back on, this helps not only in the resources department, but it helps with your profits. Companies who implement continuous feedback and employee engagement instead of annual performance reviews experience a 22% increase in profitability as compared to those who do not invest in those areas. Continuous feedback pays for itself and then some, in addition to all the other benefits!
It’s a two-way street
Another valuable benefit of continuous performance feedback is that it is less formal than the aforementioned horrible performance review. Continuous feedback allows employees and their superiors to exchange organic conversation and forge better relationships.
Managers can provide performance advice to employees and in exchange employees can share their own suggestions about processes and such with managers, which is great for improving morale. It’s a win-win scenario. For example, when John tells Melissa she’s falling behind on deadlines and she is able to work with John to clarify his expectations for completed work, both manager and colleague can remedy the situation in almost real-time.
Another form of this can be seen through peer to peer feedback as well. Sometimes, no one knows more about your employees than those who sit right next to them day in and day out. That’s why taking into consideration what peers have to say, and letting employees communicate with each other is so important.
For example, if Susie and Matt sit in the same office area and Susie is noticing that Matt has been distracted or slacking off lately, she can use that peer to peer feedback aspect to let him know in a constructive manner. Then, she may even offer ways to help him or ideas that will help him focus more on his work and be overall more productive.
It conditions the workforce for continuous learning
Continuous feedback goes hand-in-hand with continuous learning and continuous learning teaches employees to regularly reevaluate their strengths and weaknesses. What this does is create a performance-driven culture. Learning from mistakes, becoming self-aware and self-improving all lead to an adaptable, high performing workforce.
Recent research shows a direct relationship between self-awareness and the probability of success. If you are unable to address Bo’s withering criticism of Dylan until March of next year, how likely is it that he, or you, will remember? The one person whose work it can affect (Dylan) will though but without continuous learning and feedback, Bo will never learn constructive criticism, while Dylan will silently seethe about the unfair treatment, leaving a festering wound in the team.
Aside from these amazing benefits, it also helps you to help your employees grow and develop. Not only are they being self-aware, but you as a manager are able to provide them with the resources they need to make the necessary improvements. This means your employees will always be enhancing their skills and working to be better, faster, and more productive in the tasks at hand. And, this helps you to create leaders within your company.
Instead of hiring out, you can work to build up the employees you already have to shape them into being great at both their job, and the possible opportunities in the future. This, in turn, helps you save money and resources along with aiding in any strengths and weaknesses that arise
It improves employee satisfaction, which improves engagement, which improves performance…
Perhaps at the core of all the benefits of effective continuous feedback is employee satisfaction. According to the Society for Human Resource Management 2015 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report, 55% of employees reported that communication between employees and senior management was very important to them. It’s difficult to feel connected to senior management when your only contact with her is once, or maybe twice per year!
What’s more is that employees who have regular meetings with their managers are three times more likely to be engaged than employees who don’t and employees are seven (yes, SEVEN) times more likely to be engaged when their managers hold them accountable for the projects and tasks they are working on. Since we’re keeping score, let’s end on this note: according to the 2015 Strengths @Work survey, 71% of employees who believe their managers can name their strengths feel more engaged and energized in their work. What more could you ask for?
The truth is, if employee engagement and satisfaction isn’t a main focus of yours – it should be. Not only are you missing out on all these awesome benefits, but you’re decreasing your retention and recruitment abilities. And, these all create a whole set of problems that should be saved for an entirely different blog post. Today’s employees is all about loving where they work and what they do. And, if you can’t compete with that, you and your company are going to get left behind, making finding talent and keeping it all the more difficult as time goes on.
Change is good. What’s even better? Continuous change. As Winston Churchill puts it, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” When it comes to managing change and managing people, the benefits of continuous feedback certainly seem to outweigh the costs of not doing so.
Giving and Receiving 360 Feedback
How to Give Feedback:
There is no denying that employees want feedback, but that doesn’t mean they are craving reviews. Even HR leaders and managers are catching on to the disadvantages of waiting for an annual, or even bi-annual review. The best way to help employees thrive is to give them real-time feedback. This on-the-spot direction and redirection helps your workers adjust their performance immediately for the benefit of their career and your business. Take a look at these 6 steps on how to give the most effective employee feedback.
Effective employee feedback is specific. Make an effort to chat with employees once a week or at least once a month. It will help them grow individually within your organization and help foster a relationship of trust. Take time to bring a specific instance of good or poor performance to discuss and always end the conversation with an invite to provide their own feedback. Employees need something to act on, accomplish or work toward. Providing an employee goal-oriented feedback will help make the conversation more valuable and actionable. And don’t be afraid to point out the positive behavior you hope to see more of!
Make It Happen In Real-Time
There are many perks to real-time feedback. One of them is easily fixing mistakes in the present. Real-time feedback ensures fixes happen quickly and efficiently instead of waiting for a review, potentially risking development of bad habits. It can also act as a positive reinforcement of good habits, something everyone benefits from. In fact, implementing real-time feedback lowers turnover rates by 14.9%. Plus, if you have praise to give, why not give it right away? This type of feedback promotes efficiency, productivity and growth.
Prepare Prepare Prepare!
Don’t schedule a performance conversation with nothing prepared. Write down what you want to cover. Reviews can be long and it’s important to cover everything while your employee is there. Without a plan, the meeting will undoubtedly be a waste of time for everyone involved and leave your employees confused with no real direction moving forward. In fact, 67% of employees feel engaged when their manager focuses on their strengths and positive characteristics. However negative feedback is just as crucial. If this meeting is one focused on critiques and redirection, don’t let your emotions overflow. Be sure you have calmed down before you begin the conversation. Giving negative feedback poorly will only cause an employee to have negative feelings toward you and possibly the company.
Be Constructive and Supportive
Be a mentor to employees. As a leader, your job is to show workers how to improve. This is important to remember when delivering feedback. Actually, 57% of employees prefer corrective feedback over praise, so as long as you’re tactful, there’s no need to sugarcoat things. Be sure to show support and give specific details on what they did wrong, as well as brainstorm ways to improve.
Listen to Employee Feedback
Have your employees write their own review/feedback before the performance conversation. Be sure these questions are open ended so the discussion is as valuable as possible. This will help them consider their own performance as well as how leadership is affecting their development. Listen to what your employees have to say. Their insight is just as important to improving the company as the performance management feedback you provide. This is a mutually beneficial conversation that will improve performance or set goals as well as explore how your company can better manage them.
End on a Positive Note
It’s important to give negative feedback, but always start and end on a positive note. This will help balance any negative feelings and lower the defensiveness an employee may feel. If you are at a loss of how to do that in a more tense time, consider ending with future goals for your employee. Goal-setting will help focus the attention and improve behavior. Even better, employees are more motivated and engaged knowing exactly what is expected of them within the workplace. Success depends on the productivity, satisfaction and engagement of your employees.
Attaching Goals to Feedback
Feedback is no longer a management nice-to-have, it’s fundamental and necessary to engaging and retaining employees. The annual performance appraisal has moved past its shelf life and is now relegated to the land of fax machines and the personnel department. In its place sits real-time feedback, constructive criticism and focused career paths. The art of microfeedback, however, can be derailed when management, employee and technology fail to ask the all-important question: What is the goal of this feedback?
Feedback can come in the form of accolade or constructive criticism, it can focus on strengths or weaknesses, but if it has no goal, it can be worse than worthless. Feedback without a purpose can be detrimental. Whether feedback helps reinforce positive behaviors, nip bad habits in the bud, or to improve employee performance, setting a goal for specific feedback can help give it even more meaning and attach it to an overarching goal. We don’t grade performance once a year anymore because it’s not specific enough nor helpful in today’s fast-paced learning and working environments. Why repeat the same bad practice in giving feedback?
iRevu: Employee Feedback in Action
There are varying degrees and levels of feedback. Every piece of feedback must be placed within an appropriate category.
Constructive: An employer or manager might select this option when they are giving criticism that is not chastising the employee for any wrongdoing, but rather showing them the proper way to do it in the future.
Employee: “I want to know my employer sees me as part of a larger picture than just my immediate deliverables. Receiving feedback with the Career Goals attached tells me my boss is thinking about me as integral to the company as a whole, and someone who will grow with it.”
68% of employees say their managers aren’t actively engaged in their career path’s development.
Manager’s Perspective: When I build out a constructive feedback review, it’s important to me that my employee knows that it’s not an indication of misbehavior, but a piece of feedback designed to prepare them for the career paths we’ve built together.
Employee: “A Career Paths indicator on an iRevü shows me I have the opportunity to move up in the organization and contribute in a bigger way than I previously thought. A simple nudge towards a different department, or an added responsibility means my boss is thinking of possible future promotions like I am.” The 2015 SHRM Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement report found that 42% of the workforce views an organization’s commitment to professional development as very important, yet only 23% are currently satisfied with their company’s development policies.
Manager: “When I build out an accolade within the iRevü system, attaching the Career Paths indicator helps me to focus on what I want this employee to achieve and aspire to. It helps cement goals and future positions as something to work toward together rather than just being another useless “atta boy”.”
“Feedback is an opinion, grounded in observations and experiences, which allows us to know what impression we make on others.” ― Sheryl Sandberg @sherylsandberg
Employee: “Am I the right person for the job? It may be hard to hear, but feedback in the Career Paths department can help guide me towards a job or department more of my style and speed. They know more than me, and if they see my potential in a different area, I want to hear it!”
Manager: “I’ve used the Career Paths feature to guide employees who are struggling into a department or onto a team that is a better fit for their skills, aptitude and working style. Instead of pointing out that they are failing to meet goals in Dept. A, I can show them how their skills will work a little better in Dept. B. We’ve also used the feature to create a plan over months or even years for employees to move from one place to another within the organization, and frequently reminding them of those goals so they don’t get caught up in the day-to-day.”
Pointed and specific feedback goals can help shape how opinions and evaluations are delivered and received. Helping to guide career development, internal promotion and the age young questions of cultural fit are all outcomes of Career Path feedback goals. When giving feedback do you categorize your goal? For employees, this option creates a better frame for the picture of feedback managers are often trying to create. For managers, it’s helpful to view feedback in the context of a specific internal goal, stripping feedback down from any emotional or in the moment entanglements.
When you conduct performance reviews, do you take the time to discover what goals it sets for you and the employee?
Accepting Critical Feedback from Employees
If your organization has implemented 360-degree feedback, you’re likely feeling effects like better communication, team development, career development and more. While 360-degree feedback has many positives for the team as a whole, it may be odd or difficult to receive upwards feedback from your employees at first. This is especially when critical feedback comes into play. Negative feedback does not have to be a bad thing, though. How can you turn it into a positive? Follow these steps:
Control Your Emotions
It’s difficult to not feel some sort of negative emotion when receiving criticism from an employee, but it’s important to remember that this is not an attack on your character. Just like when you deliver critical feedback to an employee, this is a way to better the workplace. This type of team communication is important, as 33% of employees say a lack of open, honest communication has the most negative impact on employee morale. Avoid defensiveness as a default, step back and try to see it from the employee or colleague’s perspective.
Assume Good Intentions
As you take the time to see the feedback from the employee’s perspective, don’t automatically jump to conclusions about their intentions. Default to believing they are not “out to get you” but are instead interested in seeing you succeed further. Creating a workplace with open communication means receiving negative feedback sometimes since no one is perfect. In fact, 92% of respondents agreed with the assertion “negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.” It’s important to accept this for what it is and not assume underlying harmful motivation.
Own Your Mistakes
Deflecting is a tactic everyone has a tendency to use when it comes to criticism. Assuming responsibility, though, is part of what it means to be a leader. Let your employee know you’ve heard their concerns and understand where they’re coming from. It will help develop a stronger connection and open the lines of communication so comfortable approaching you with concerns in the future.
Take Time to Clarify Expectations
These feedback and performance meetings are mutually beneficial conversations that will improve performance, set goals as well as explore options for improving employee satisfaction. If your team feels like their feedback is being heard and addressed in future situations, they’ll likely be happier to work with you as a manager. Use the feedback to make improvements accordingly and navigate what a good employee/manager relationship looks like.
Use It to Better Yourself as a Leader
Use this opportunity to think about how you can improve your overall behavior and attitude as a leader in the organization. If one employee has these concerns, it’s likely others do, too. Make a commitment to be conscious of your leadership style moving forward and how you can improve it altogether, not just in accordance to the feedback you received. Consider all feedback as a stepping stone to realizing greater success in your career.
Making 360-degree reviews work for you and your team is a process and having the right tools is essential to its success. Only 44% of organizations do an effective job of using technology to deliver the performance management process itself.
Annual Reviews: Outdated Dinosaur or Necessary Evil?
Annual performance reviews are becoming a thing of the past especially since Millennials are racing into the workforce and it’s time to learn real-time performance feedback is and will increase your employee performance. Millennials are active learners and NEED constant feedback to make sure they stay on track and are keeping up with the expectations that their managers may have.
While 61% of employees say they would welcome immediate, on-the-spot feedback from bosses and peers about how they’re doing, only 24% say they get it. Meanwhile, 54% of CEOs believe they do give it. You read that right.
Something tells me CEOs, managers and employees aren’t all on the same page. It’s time to wake up, smell the coffee and dive into real time performance feedback, managers! Realizing how this can improve your employee’s performance is a must-have to being successful and moving into the future of your business.
Keep The Motivation Up. Nobody has ever loved doing annual performance reviews. They drain you and your employees and honestly they are time consuming. Plus, you put in the hard work to hype up your employee with new goals and ideas for them, but that excitement lasts maybe a week? With real-time performance reviews you can keep that excitement up and fresh. Take a look at what happens when you keep motivation flowing within your company:
- Real-time reviews help employees understand how their contributions are seen in the organization, and they make it easier for the organization to effectively recognize and reward top performance.
- Employees are more engaged in everyday work and are willing to add to their ideas and goals.
- Recognition from peers or managers serves as a reminder of individual goals. Which helps your employee stay on track and ask questions.
Continuous Learning And Development . You can learn a lot about your employees during performance reviews but it’s also easy to overlook a lot of what they do and contribute to the organization when you only have reviews once a year. Real-time reviews help you stay up to date with each of your employees and their performance. See what happens when you give them immediate feedback:
- Both managers and employees can maintain a continuous understanding. Meaning, you should always be on the same page and idea level as your employee and what to expect from each other.
- New ideas can be brought to the table and put into action when you have that constant feedback discussion. Collaboration like this only really happens if employees are given the opportunity and what better way than when giving feedback?
- A culture of feedback allows managers to recognize top performers and provide course correction early on. Catching those mistakes before it’s too late can save you time and money.
Don’t Manage, Coach Your Team. Now, I’m not saying go and throw your title or position out the window but when it comes to managing your team, you are essentially their go-to advisor and they look to you for answers and guidance. With real-time performance reviews you are a constant coach, teammate and sometimes cheerleader. Building your team up, instructing them and correcting when needed. Learn what benefits come along with coaching your team while using real-time reviews:
- Some of the latest data suggests the direct reports of managers who check in on progress towards weekly goals are up to 24 times more likely to achieve them.
- As a manager or a peer you’re able to recognize the softer skill set in your employees when you use real-time feedback that are often overlooked or altogether forgotten during annual reviews.
- Having those regular conversations about performance and development helps change the focus to building the workforce your organization needs to be competitive both today and years from now.
Assuming you have been inspired by these reasons to use real-time performance reviews in your business, all fingers point to “yes” for using it. While it won’t be an immediate transformation overnight you can start to weave it into your company and through different departments. Whether you’re a huge corporation or even the smallest of companies, each needs real-time feedback.
The question you need to ask yourself as a CEO or manager is, “Why do I continue to put myself and employees through a long and painful annual review process when I could improve their work right now?”
Objectives and Real Results
“A good manager is like the conductor of an orchestra… He/she does not look as if he is doing much but waving a stick, but he can usually play many of the instruments, has a deep understanding of the score, and most importantly, how the instruments play together. When I see a bad manager, he is usually grabbing an instrument and trying to play it, rather than coaching the player and drawing the best performance from them.”
-Scott Lewis, GM/CEO
Technology is merely a tool and when it comes to managing a team, leaders will be required to do far more than input data within a system. Providing successful and efficient microfeedback is so much more than frequent critiques and praises – and that’s where human managers come in…
Approach Confrontation Gracefully. If technology ruled the world, all communication would be emotionless text blocks and robotic verbal responses. An email or text lacks severity or includes too much severity. Managing a team with microfeedback is far more than sending a message of praise or critique. Leaders should be willing to take it a step farther, especially in the instance of employee performance problems. Tech tools can give you means of monitoring performance and notating changes, but it cannot do the hard, yet effective role of sitting your worker down and discussing what is and isn’t working. And a great leader will not shy away from confrontation, no matter how difficult. If discussing tough subjects give you the chills, then relax a little knowing 92% of employees believe properly delivered negative feedback is effective at improving performance.
Observe Employee Passion. Sure, psychometric technology can tell employees what they are good at on paper, but what actually motivates employees to be successful? A great manager not only notices the efficiency via numbers and aptitude for written language, but will actually observe employee passion and interests. iRevü gives managers the ability to determine the goal of microfeedback, one of which is focused on leadership and providing positive reinforcement for career building behavior (or negative for the opposite). While this feature is great for employee development, it isn’t the only step necessary to see what will push employees to be their best and grow within the organization. It takes an astute and observant leader who is also open to conversation with their team. That attention to your employees can make all the difference. Employees are more motivated when they are trained to their strengths. 61% of the employees who said their supervisors focused on their strengths were engaged. Technology can help identify or train, but it can’t see the employee for who they are past the data.
Allow Feedback to Flow Both Ways. Feedback is a two way street. For it to work at it’s full capability, the workforce needs to give as much feedback as management does. On the other side of the coin, management needs to be willing to receive the feedback given to them. The beauty of feedback is the growth of both sides. If employees don’t receive feedback, they will at best continue to produce the same caliber of work. Likewise, if management doesn’t receive feedback, the company’s growth is stagnant. Technology provides a means for this conversation, but it is up to the employee/employer relationship to dictate the comfort at which each party actually uses it. In other words, it is up to the manager to encourage their team to be open and honest in the workplace. If managers don’t know how to receive feedback as well as they can give it, then you can bet their team will not feel confident discussing their honest feedback (specifically critiques) with them.
Performance Feedback: Real Talk
This is a wonderful time of the year. As the new year begins, many practitioners and experts start sharing their ideas and predictions for the upcoming months, creating buzz around the industry’s greatest challenges and newest practices.
According to ADP’s Linda Mougalian, the top two talent trends to look out for are:
- “A rethinking of the annual performance review.”
- “Improving corporate culture and employee engagement.”
At the root of these trends is the employee and more specifically the relationship that employee has with the company. We’ve known for a while now that annual performance reviews are not a sustainable or effective way to manage employee performance and that directly impacts company culture and employee engagement. See the connection?
It may seem like a broad, complicated web of problems when we think of management, engagement and culture and all the other things we think it takes to solve those problems. But, it’s much simpler than that. With the right leadership and approach to performance management, managers can begin to gain the “affection” of their employees (professionally speaking of course!). Here are three performance management practices to get you started:
Communication Is Nothing Without The Right Delivery. You also can’t expect communication to mean anything if it isn’t frequent and followed up on; and trust me, employees want meaningful, regular feedback (AKA real-time feedback). In fact, 85% of Millennials (you know, the largest growing generation in the workforce) would be more confident in their current role if their manager had more frequent performance conversations with them.
The cost can be exponential. Large companies spend roughly $9.3 million because of communication failures that are riddled throughout their company. That’s $26,000 per employee that could so easily be avoided.
So, as someone who manages people, what are you doing to ensure your communication is heard, received and will influence employee performance?
Use these communication tips to help yourself in check:
➔ Start providing employees with real-time feedback. This means frequent communication (depending on company structure, once a week or biweekly) that is a combination of constructive, strengths-focused and goal-oriented conversations.
➔ Encourage feedback from employees (AKA listen). Managers must practice listening, paying attention to nonverbal cues, tone and body language so they can have a genuine connection with the employee that leads to a stronger bond and, hopefully, a better idea of where performance problems truly lie.
➔ Be genuinely interested in your employees. Today’s employees want transparency and resist inauthentic gestures. Mix up communication by inferring their personal life, interests, or casually discussing career goals. Building this trust goes a long way.
Recognition. When the opportunity arises, recognition is a great way to engage and motivate employees. The power of recognizing employees’ accomplishments has great influence on their performance, attitude and engagement. In fact, according to the 2015 Trends in Employee Recognition Report by WorldAtWork, 68% of organizations who have implemented employee recognition programs report a positive effect on employee engagement and 38% report an increase in employee retention.
How can you improve employee recognition? Try these:
➔ Reach out on social media when recognizing employee performance, rewards or even simple things like someone’s birthday.
➔ Make recognition a team effort. Gather the troops every Friday and have each person share something a co-worker did that they feel was outstanding.
➔ Incorporate appreciation and recognition every day. Even small successes are worth recognizing. Work to be more appreciative daily by being more aware of employees’ contributions and setting reminders for yourself.
Development Helps Employees See Where They Are Headed. As humans, we like control. That’s no less true when we walk into the workplace. Employees want to know what the future holds, where they are headed and how to get there. The Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends of 2015 found that companies with high-performing learning environments ranked the highest in employee engagement.
For managers to create this kind of environment, more conversations about career goals need to be had, whether that person’s future places them with their current company or not. Being able to visualize where they are headed will provide employees with a sense of purpose, goals to work towards and, consequently, they will be more engaged in their work.
How do managers create this environment of learning? You guessed it, communication.
Real Questions, Real Answers.
Today’s performance management practices are going through big changes, but evolving with those changes doesn’t have to be difficult. Using the right tools, keeping themselves accountable and seeking to fulfill professional relationships with employees will provide managers with the organizational outcomes the company desires.
George Bernard Shaw said:
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
That statement is entirely accurate, especially in performance feedback. Feedback can be meaningless, misinterpreted or missed altogether if it isn’t delivered the right way. So, let’s take a look at what these professionals think it takes when giving feedback that influences employee performance.
This question originally appeared on Quora. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: What steps are important when giving feedback to an employee?
“…I’m not a fan of canned answers and step by step processes when it comes to leadership development. We’re mentoring people, not programming them. The first place I would start would be in my own heart. Do I want to genuinely develop this person or do I want to label it feedback just so I can tell them how poorly they are doing? Explain why their actions were wrong, not why they were wrong. Give them examples of what would have been right and what would have made it right. Offer your support, everyone needs different support, so make sure you’re speaking about an individual’s needs…”
–William Powell is an organizational development consultant for the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
“The key to successful sharing of positive or critical feedback is to always start from a place of caring about the other individual…a demonstrated interest in the success of the other person will help the feedback be much better received…Likewise, even positive feedback can be viewed skeptically if not delivered sincerely with appreciation and attachment to an individual’s growth, a team goal, or an organizational mission.”
–Eleanor Biddulph is founder of Leading Fully Present Consulting, a leadership development consultancy.
“Be honest, direct and have supporting facts or data to reinforce what you are saying. If the feedback is negative always have a suggestion ready for how the employee can remedy the situation…proactively follow up on the employee to monitor changed behavior…”
–Roland Amm is Head of Professional Services for South Africa-based software solutions company Saratoga.
“Don’t try to mix positive and negative feedback too much…positive reinforcement is what really gets people to get more done…If someone is deserving of positive reinforcement it should be given clearly and without any asterisks. When you have to give negative feedback, which is unavoidable, resist the temptation to over-temper it with praise. It “feels better” to say things like, “you’re the best and, here’s 11 reasons why we really like you” but we have this real problem to address. It’s best to make the negative feedback clear, short, understandable, and accompanied by at least some info on how they can change it…make it shorter and to the point, and save the positive feedback for another occasion. The ratio of the two should be overwhelmingly slanted towards “positive” as much as possible.”
–Nick Baily has worked for over 15 years as a digital strategy expert.
What’s the best way to deliver feedback that will elicit change in the workforce? There isn’t one right answer, but by taking a look at what the experts are doing or saying can help you decide how to approach the topic.
- Be direct and honest
- Give feedback as soon as possible
- Focus on the positive when warranted
- Care about the feedback and the person
- Support with facts
- Try to mentor, not reprogram
Giving Frequent, Consistent Employee Feedback
Now more than ever is the opportune time to focus on leading, providing feedback, and listening to your team. As the need for attention, support, and communication increases among your staff, you need to remain mindful as a leader. This creates relationships and connections with your employees that may otherwise have suffered. But, why is this important?
Well, supportive relationships can help employees stay engaged. Studies have even shown that those who are recognized and provided some form of relationship are proven to be 77% more engaged and 81% feel more valued within the company.
So, what can you do to improve your own leadership methods for the sake of your employees? Below are 4 ways to get started:
Be Empathetic. As a leader, it’s important to understand your employees and their struggles. Especially in high-strung workplace environments where stress and the normal pains of everyday life can weight-down on your team. Recognize when someone is having a bad day and be understanding that sometimes performance can suffer.
This doesn’t mean to let their lack of productivity slide. Instead, provide reassurance and lend a listening ear for those who may need it. Let them know that you are aware of any changes or setbacks and will be there to help if they need it. In fact, a study featured on ScienceNordic found that humble leaders who have increased self-awareness and insight experience greater commitment and performance from their employees.
Be Engaging. Besides showing that you care and are supportive of your team, you need to actual exert yourself to engage with them – even if it’s just over morning coffee in the break room. When employees come to you with concerns, ideas, or questions ask them to expand on their thoughts and ensure that there is full understanding of what they need or want. It is equally important to not only understand, but also follow-up and be responsible for what they are asking or concerned about. This means that they will know that you are indeed listening, and interested in what they have to say. Creating this type of relationship is important considering that companies with engaged employees generate 2.5x the revenue than those companies with low engagement levels.
Be Focused. When listening, giving feedback, or even just interacting with your team you need to stay focused and let those talking have the floor. If you’ve worked your way up to the management position you hold, you may be familiar with others interrupting your thoughts and ideas without fully hearing you out. This is what you want to avoid. Embrace true two-way communication, and know that when you interrupt you are creating a disengaging environment. Stay focused, stay in the moment, and be a compassionate leader.
Be Supportive. This means not just in listening and understanding, but with feedback as well. Don’t be negative to someone who is attempting to grow and develop within their position and career. Instead, take the time to mentor them and recognize any areas they may need help in. The truth is, 57% of employees actually appreciate corrective feedback. So, it’s not that your employees don’t want it, but it’s in how you give it to them. Be that supportive leader who offers up ways to improve to practice certain skills they are struggling with instead of fully criticizing and undermining their efforts.
HOW TO: Here are five simple tips to giving feedback in your organization.
- Know your purpose for feedback. If you’re here, you already understand how important feedback is to the performance of your team. But did you also know that research bears out how important it is for individuals, your own managers, productivity and ROI? Read more about the importance of feedback in a healthy, productive and efficient organization. If you don’t know why you are giving feedback, your feedback will be vague and unhelpful. Perhaps your goal is to align your employees with company values, or to re-engage a bored and frustrated workforce. Whatever your goal, write or record it somewhere so you can see it when giving constructive feedback as well as accolades. iRevu allows you to place your personal and corporate values and goals in the system, so you can tie every piece of feedback back to them.
- Be consistent. You don’t have to give feedback every week, but your employees will be happier if you do. Studies show that millennials especially crave constant feedback from their managers, even if that feedback is constructive. But millennials aren’t the only ones who need feedback. Every generation in the workplace can use a performance conversation that is consistent. Experiment with frequencies before rolling out your feedback program. If you can write and send reviews for ten employees every other week, then perhaps that’s a good frequency. Remember that face to face feedback counts too! iRevu offers built in reminders so you can send consistent feedback even when it gets busy!
- Be SMART. At iRevu we use the SMART method when reviewing each other. It’s also what we’ve based our technology on.
- Specific. Does your feedback focus on a specific thing the employee can work on? If not, you may be guilty of vague and unhelpful feedback. Instead, pinpoint a problem to focus on, rather than general traits that are bothering you. “Keep up the good work!” is not bad to say to a high performing employee, but it’s more helpful to say “You were extremely prepared for that call this morning, I appreciate you having all the information we needed to answer their questions.”
- Measurable. If the employee improves on feedback, how will they (and you) know it? Good feedback is measurable, meaning improvement will be easy to see. For instance in our example above, we might say: “You were extremely prepared for that call this morning, I appreciate you having all the information we needed to answer their questions. Normally, calls with this client last two hours, but this was just 45 minutes long.”
- Achievable. Giving feedback that is unreasonable won’t work. Both you and the employee will be frustrated when the goal isn’t met. A goal is achievable if that person and others at their level have been able to achieve the goal in the past.
- Results-focused. Make sure your feedback is results focused. When giving feedback to an employee who struggles to be succinct, you might show how this affects his team and give him a result he can see if he does the opposite. Example: “When you go over time in meetings, we often don’t get to Pamela’s needs and her work gets put on the back burner. If you can keep your contributions to five minutes, we’ll be able to push some of Pamela’s projects forward.” iRevu is built so you can attach a personal or corporate goal to every piece of feedback, making results-focused feedback a built-in feature.
- Time-Bound. All great feedback gives the employee time to make adjustments. Leaving it open-ended can make it feel the feedback is not very urgent and must not need immediate attention. Letting your team know you need to see a change or results by a certain achievable date will give your feedback the attention it deserves.
- Open the door for others to give feedback. Often the hardest thing for managers, allowing feedback can really help you grow as a manager. If you refuse to allow feedback, your employees may feel that your feedback loop is more of a one-way situation. By teaching your employees the SMART formula as well as other best practices, like consistency, you can get feedback you need to be a better boss, while engaging your staff and training up future leaders.
- Remember that both kinds of feedback are needed. iRevu allows you to select accolade or constructive. There’s no category for “mean”. If you notice yourself only leaving “constructive” feedback or whipping out feedback only when your employees screw up, you’re not going to get the most out of a feedback. Try to find times to send accolades when an employee does something really well to balance out constructive feedback. Conversely, using feedback as a way to only convey positive information isn’t useful either. In order for your team to grow, both kinds of feedback are important.
Employee Feedback Starter Phrases
- Improved or Increased production or deliverables
- Improved upon deadlines or project parameters
- Needs little direction to start a project
- Meets or exceeds requirements and/or results of his/her teammates when it comes to (x)
- Struggles to match the results of his/her teammates when it comes to (x)
Motivation and Respect:
- Respects others’ time by arriving on time for meetings and conferences
- Show initiative and commitment by attending non-mandatory training and meetings
- Did not meet attendance or punctuality goals set out
- Struggles to manage time well or meet deadlines
Productivity and Time Management:
- Has greatly improved deliverables or projects managed since last review
- Has not displayed improvement since last review
- Works well on a team, both contributing and allowing others to contribute
- Can be depended upon to complete his or her portion of a project
- Forces production for teams back based on poor production or time management
Communication and Transparency:
- Actively listens in meetings with colleagues and managers
- Communicates questions and expectations to those he/she manages
- Struggles with making defensive explanations or taking accountability for errors
- Delegates when necessary and assists team members who are struggling
- Brings issues to manager or supervisor in a timely manner
- Shows cooperation with team members
- Needs improvement delegating when overwhelmed
- Excels at training and sharing knowledge with coworkers
- Often takes credit for overall success of project, even when working in a team
- Is inconsistent with reactions to questions from newer coworkers
- Is not afraid to suggest innovative ideas and solutions
- Tends to resist working on new projects and spends time arguing on how to do it
- Displays improvement in changing workflows to scale with production
- Refuses to change techniques when old methods no longer work
- Take criticism well and applies it to future work.
- Frequently asks for more responsibility, and harder projects
- Willing to “go the extra mile” or stay late for important work
- Frequently tries new methods to ensure they are on the right track
- Rarely takes on more complicated tasks or projects
- Has unreasonable expectations for those who report to him, while frequently falling behind on his own work
- Shows little discernment when disciplining or discussing issues with employees
- Allows for other employees to flex their leadership skills
- Gives appropriate tasks based on skill level
- Always works later than her team
- Responds well to questions and fully explains things to employees
- Takes creative risks that are outside the box
- Understands our corporate values and lives them out daily
- Fails to contribute any ideas during meetings
- Rewards those under her management for innovative suggestions
- Adapts easily to changes or new information
- Comes with a possible solution to every problem or issue identified
- Shows focus when tackling large problems
- Makes excuses when problems arise instead of working to solve them
- Implements solutions proactively and efficiently
- Creates training manuals and processes so we don’t solve the same issue twice
Power Words for Employee Feedback
Power words aren’t just for content marketing. The words you use when giving employees feedback are just as important. Certain phrases and words are used so often, they lose their meaning after a while, while other, more useful and descriptive words are left by the roadside by harried managers. Here are some power words you can use in your employee feedback communications to get your creative juices flowing and give feedback your employees will remember and act upon!
Quality and quantity of work: accuracy, thoroughness, productivity, and goal attainment
Growth, Leadership, Responsibility: Importance, Crucial, Critical, Prime, Paramount, Vital, Momentous, Essential, Must-have
Communication and interpersonal skills: teamwork, cooperation, listening, persuasion, and empathy
Planning, administration, and organization: goal setting, prioritizing, and profit orientation, Detailed, Painstaking, Meticulous, Impenetrable, Essential, Practical
Leadership: accessibility, responsiveness, decisiveness, collaboration, and delegating
Job knowledge and expertise: knowledge base, training, mentoring, modeling, and researching
Attitude: dedication, loyalty, reliability, flexibility, initiative, energy, and volunteering
Ethics: diversity, sustainability, honesty, integrity, fairness, and professionalism
Creative thinking: innovation, receptiveness, problem solving, and originality
Self-development and growth: learning, education, advancement, skill building, and career planning
Employee Feedback Questions
Questions are fundamental to continued learning and growth, no matter the stage of life. For leaders who want successful companies and satisfied employees, feedback is key, and the right questions can lead to honest feedback.
Employees are often hesitant to voice their real opinions about their company, and about their manager (which may be you.) They fear negative consequences or loss of favor. However, cultivating a culture of honesty will go a long way toward the betterment of your company.
At first, when you request direct feedback from your employees, they may not be very enthusiastic. But if you ask for their input through inquisitive and specific questions, you will find people much more willing to open up, especially since 39% of employees say people in their organizations don’t collaborate enough.
Ask specific, but open-ended questions, things that will allow your employees to openly express their opinions and insights:
- Some questions should be general: What is something your company could do to improve?
- Follow up by asking for specifics: Which company processes are efficient and which are inefficient?
- Ask for feedback about yourself: How can you, as their manager, work to be better?
- Ask how your employees are doing with their work: What are they enjoying about their work right now? What are they finding difficult about their work?
- Ask your employees if they need anything: What can we do for you as our employees?
Ask why a lot, try to get answers that go deeper than the surface. Why? Because employees need to feel comfortable enough to voice their valuable insights and ideas. Those who define the company and know it best are those who do the daily work.
Your employees are your most important resource, and a goldmine of information and knowledge. If you are not listening to them, you are flying blind. Plus, 55% of employees reported that communication between employees and senior management was very important to them.
These questions should be a MUST when you talk to your employees. While being a manager, you’re also a coach, a team member and while you might be the one asking questions, you are also the person they look to when they need answers. Take a look below and ask yourself… are you fully engaging in these types of conversations each month with your employees?
How can I help make your job easier?
This doesn’t mean take over their job but simply ask if they are feeling overwhelmed with their workload.
Which part of your job do you like best?
Find out what they really love to do and work with that. They might like to do something that another team member hates doing. So, figure out what parts each employee loves doing and try rebuilding how you delegate projects with this in mind.
What would you like to learn?
This is basically an open-ended question… get to know your employee in the workplace and what they want to learn but also what they are interested in learning in life. You might also be able to apply this to succession planning. For example someone who is interested in music or foreign languages may be a match for learning a new language or process. Someone who enjoys travel and risk may someday be a great sales person or a natural to open your new office in Quebec.
What is your best accomplishment this month?
Go over what they did this past month and learn what they do daily. However, don’t turn this into a performance review. This is just a way to get to know your employees and show them that you genuinely care how they are doing.
How can I help make work more fun?
We aren’t saying to build a jungle gym in the middle of the office (however, that would be a great stress reliever…don’t you think?) but by asking this you want to understand how you can make your employees look forward to work and be happy while at work.
What processes need to be improved?
As a manager, you don’t always see EVERY process that goes on within your teams. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday work, we all do it but while your teams are working, some employees can find out a better way to work on a project or use a software more efficiently. Ask them if things are working the way they are, if they need improved or if they have a better process to share with other team members.
Are you crystal clear in your position and what it entails?
Sometimes we forget, that while our onboarding system might seem perfect, we will always miss something. Whether it be major or minor, an employee will always come across something they don’t know how to do or were never taught. This is your time to ask if they have questions about anything and let them feel open to ask you. Take time to set them up with another team member to help them learn what they need or explain whatever they need to know, yourself.
How are you doing in life?
You shouldn’t look at your employees and only see them as workers, they have personal lives on top of their work lives. Which in some cases, can affect one another so feel free to ask them how they’re doing or how their family is doing. However, this doesn’t mean pry into their personal lives but a casual conversation like this can create a better connection between you and your employees.
Listen attentively. You can ask the right questions, but if you are not really listening to the responses and acting on them, your employees will quickly become disengaged and lose interest in answering questions and giving critical feedback.
Instead, pay attention, and even take notes on their answers. Do your best to integrate their feedback and implement their suggestions. Make sure everyone feels like part of the team, like they can contribute and be taken seriously. You can build a culture of honesty and open contribution at your company, and watch as your employees and organization flourish, remembering that companies that implement regular feedback with their employees experience 15% lower turnover rates.
Take the time to sit with your teams or even each employee to really get an understanding of their work ethic and goals. As a manager you have a lot of employees to look over so it’s only natural to sometimes forget certain things about each of them. When you sit down with them and actually listen and pay attention you create a deeper connection and engagement with your employees this will also help you retain what you discussed.
If you continue to do this monthly or every other month you will continue to build on your relationships. When relationships are built on continuous feedback, employees feel included and more comfortable to voice opinions and give insight within the company. All together this creates a more engaged company culture for you and your team.
Set Expectations. Your employees may all have different ideas about what is working and what isn’t. And you need to make it clear that while you value their feedback, not all of it can be implemented at once (or even at all). Tell them you will look for patterns in their responses and try to address the issues or concerns that seem to impact many of them.
Setting these expectations will not only help your employees understand and know what’s expected from them but will also help you stay on track. Being a manager means setting the tone for your teams and company. You are the role model for your employees, so while implementing new ideas is great you still have to set the tone for them and how it will work.
Encourage Solutions. Asking questions is crucial to learning how well your company is doing at addressing employee needs, but if you’re constantly asking open-ended questions, you may find yourself with more problems than solutions. So, nudge your employees toward a solution if they present an issue. Use probing questions to help them identify a solution alongside you.
You need your employees’ feedback for the growth of your company, just like kids need their questions answered for their continued development. Don’t be too easily satisfied. Every good leader knows you can never stop learning, never stop adapting, and never stop finding ways to be better.
So go ask some questions. Here are a few more to get you started:
- How would describe our culture?
- Which company values do you think you exemplify and why?
- Which value would you like to improve upon?
- Name your biggest frustration right now.
- What could have gone better for you this week?
- What is inspiring to you professionally? How can we bring more of that into your workday?
- What is most “fun” work task you do?
- Do you feel you get enough “floor time” in meetings?