Most people in the workplace suffer from a lack of performance feedback and as a result questions remain unanswered.
- Am I achieving my goals?
- Am I contributing to the team?
- What am I supposed to be achieving in my role?
- Why does my role exist?
- What am I currently doing well and where do I need to improve?
- How am I impacting on others in the workplace?
- Do I contribute to the overall strategy?
- Am I a team player?
- What training do I need to improve performance?
- These are my concerns, is anybody listening?
Why is Feedback Important?
Feedback is the cheapest, most powerful, yet, most under used management tool that we have at our disposal. Feedback is powerful as it helps people get on track; it serves as a guide to assist people to know how they and others perceive their performance.
Feedback can also be very motivating and energising. It has strong links to employee satisfaction and productivity. People like to feel involved and identified with their organisation. Feedback can help achieve that state.
Some of the most effective leaders have the ability to understand the impact that their behaviour has on others. We do not have to agree with people’s perceptions but it is important to be aware of them and that they may influence decisions and strategies and management approach.
Working without feedback is similar to setting out an important journey minus a map or signposts. You may have a great sense of direction but this may not be sufficient to keep you on track. When people receive little feedback they tend to either be overly self-critical or self-congratulatory. This is because they are relying upon events rather than specific feedback to measure their performance and impact.
For example, Anne’s manager had not ever told her that he found her too inclined to agree with him. It was not until the third time that she had been overlooked for promotion that her manager eventually told her that he felt she lacked decisiveness and was not assertive enough to be a senior manager. Anne was left wondering why she had not been given this feedback during a three year period. Unless she had asked for verbal feedback, the only feedback she would have received indirectly was the fact that she was being overlooked.
How Feedback Helps
We often shy away from feedback because it is personal, can be seen as critical and yet is such an important leadership skill. These are some of the benefits:
- Builds effective working relationships
- Promotes getting things done
- Airs concerns from either party
- Influences people to do things differently adopting approaches to meet targets and strategies
- Provides recognition and encourages motivation
- Provides a forum to give truthful information about performance and behaviour fostering trust and support
- Improves quality of work of individuals and teams
- Shows people that they are valued and their input is important
- Helps people to get back on track
- Builds and maintains relationships
- Sets expectations to meet working objectives
- Coaches successors
- Promotes efficiency and reduces time wasting
It is difficult to be very self-aware without feedback from others. Self-awareness and monitoring provide a good platform but feedback from others informs us in ways that enriches our self-knowledge. We no longer need to waste energy on explaining our behaviour and people do not waste energy on trying to predict our behaviour. It’s called open communication!
Feedback is the information we all need to be truly effective in the workplace. In fact the most effective leaders actively seek feedback to enhance their performance. These leaders intuitively recognise the power of feedback.