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power of feedback

The power of feedback

Feedback is a difficult subject to broach for many of us. We all want to give it to someone at some point. And in many occasions, we might want to get it. But if it isn’t a core part of your organization’s culture, either side of the process can be fraught with tension.

And not without reason. Even if we don’t acknowledge it, we can all sense the power that feedback holds over everyone – and over the entire business. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t have the potential to cause us all so much discomfort.

When feedback is handled badly, the results can be disastrous. But when it’s given and received in a spirit of mutual growth and learning, and with an eye to improving outcomes for the entire company, feedback is one of the most powerful forces in creating a great people experience. Becoming a key element of your culture and boosting engagement and performance at every level.

The impact of feedback on employee engagement

The effect of good constructive feedback given to your people on engagement is difficult to overstate. One 2015 survey by Zenger Found that those leaders who ranked in the top 10% for giving feedback had employees who were three times as engaged as the bottom 10%.

And the interesting thing is – feedback doesn’t have to be uniformly positive to have a positive effect on engagement. Another study by Gallup has shown that while employees can still be disengaged after negative feedback, they’re twice as engaged as people who’ve received no feedback at all.

What does that mean in simple terms? Positive feedback creates more engagement than negative feedback. But no feedback at all – simply being overlooked – causes your people to switch off.

Since around 40% of workers receive no feedback at all, that’s a lot of social capital managers are leaving on the table.

But the significance of this fact only becomes obvious when we consider just how closely feedback and engagement correlate to productivity.

Engaged teams show a 21% boost to productivity (along with other benefits like a near halving of both absenteeism and turnover.) And beyond these metrics for individual and team performance, increasing engagement has the potential to drive up whole-organization outcomes. After all, if you look after your people, they’ll look after your customers and other stakeholders. Creating a virtuous cycle that supports your organization’s long-term future.

Feedback – giving and receiving for better engagement

As we pointed out above, good feedback doesn’t necessarily mean positive feedback. Good feedback can be about things that’re going well, and things that aren’t going well. But generally speaking, it demonstrates 4 characteristics:

  • It lets the person hearing it know what they did right.
  • It lets them know what they didn’t do right.
  • It’s given with enough context for them to know why it’s important for them, you and the whole company.
  • It incorporates opportunities to discuss what might happen next.

Feedback isn’t the same thing as evaluation, nor is it an opportunity to simply correct an undesired behaviour. It’s a way of demonstrating that you care enough about your colleagues to take an interest in the work they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

Giving feedback isn’t always easy. Especially if what we have to say is less than 100% positive. It requires effort. Think of it as a “smart investment.” When you give feedback, you will receive feedback yourself faster and more spontaneously.

Setting the right example – ask for feedback yourself

If you want to make the process of giving feedback easier within the business, one of the fastest ways to do it is to start asking for it yourself.

Once you get over the threshold of vulnerability and realize the genuine benefits of asking for feedback, you’ll have access to a powerful resource for your own continuing development – and the development of the rest of your leadership team. But you’ll also be demonstrating strength, willpower, and ambition. A willingness to keep learning and growing through addressing your weaknesses and using your strengths better.

This will help you to set the tone for your culture and encourage the rest of your colleagues to ask for feedback themselves.

Just as with giving feedback, asking for feedback has its own set of rules. Or, to be precise, it has one rule: contextualize. Be as specific about what you’d like to hear feedback on as possible – this will make it easier for someone to provide you with useful and constructive feedback.

Making feedback easier to both give and receive through technology

One of the biggest obstacles to effective feedback between people, their managers, and the organization comes in the form of rigid and outdated processes and systems.

Equipping your people with a HCM system that allows them to effectively engage with each other and offer feedback at every level will make the process a smoother one across the business. Especially if it offers tips and pointers for both giving feedback to others and requesting it as part of the process.

How Unit4 HCM helps your entire company manage feedback for greater performance

We’ve built Unit4 HCM to make the process of HR – including giving and receiving feedback – easier and more intuitive. Learn more about how it enhances your peoples’ ability to engage with your business and their work and how it can help you to improve performance, reduce turnover, and create a better culture – visit our product page now.  

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