Feedback is a vital tool of Performance Management…yes, All HR professionals must know that but what we generally forget is that Feedback is not always negative or it is not related to just criticism. One must understand that Feedback is imperative for employees to know even when they are working efficiently and providing great results. For every level of employee recognition of work and getting a feedback about their performance will only enhance their efficiency.
The system of human performance improvement at the conscious level is very much like a feedback control system. The principle of performance improvement through feedback control works in all situations where there is a conscious effort to improve performance — students, teachers, athletes, sportspersons, musicians, singers, artists, writers, lawyers, managers, leaders, doctors, pastors, parents ….
While the content of the feedback can be negative, its delivery can always be constructive. If it’s not, the feedback will not be accepted or be received as an insult, which can ignite other issues and problems. How feedback is communicated is based on an individual’s communication skills.
Constructive feedback is the most useful and beneficial to the receiver because it provides encouragement, support, corrective measures and direction.
A lack of ongoing feedback can create a “them and us” culture between shop floor and management which may suddenly flare up into strike action or resignations when the employees feel they are not appreciated
The importance of feedback in the workplace cannot be over-estimated – it is a key source of employee motivation. Informal feedback can be given on the spot. However, it is also useful to give semi-formal feedback on a weekly or monthly basis. Creating a specific occasion to talk about progress and performance – and giving the learner a chance to prepare – can have many benefits.
Often managers will wait to provide feedback hoping that the employee will miraculously find the path to success. This is a huge mistake and it often results in hard feelings which are difficult to repair. Providing regular feedback, both positive and negative, is essential for the employee.
Employees who are regularly coached through feedback tend to develop a better self concept. They may take on new roles more easily and they typically have a higher level of job satisfaction than those employees who are left to guess whether they are on the right track.
Employees need to know why something is good or bad. To give an example of throwing a dart, they need more feedback than “you have missed the target”. For example, they need to know that the dart is to the left of target, and if possible, what it is about the way they throw it that makes this happen.
Remember that there may be external factors at work. Poor performance may be in part due to faulty equipment or badly designed procedures. It is important to look at the wider system within which the learner is operating. Negative feedback can be given but it should be given tactfully. The manager should be specific in telling the employee what went wrong, how can it be handled now, and what impact it had on other employees in organization and on society at large. The employees’ suggestions and views should also be taken into consideration.
Feedback should always be as balanced as possible. If you are going to tell an employee that they are not working fast enough, try and temper that news with some praise for something that they are doing well. Criticizing the employees will hurt them, they might turn rigid and they might not accept the changes required. Feedback should be given immediately after the incident/ event. It should be given timely and at right place. Use of harsh tone should be avoided.
Providing regular feedback during individual appraisal sessions also gives employees the opportunity to discuss how they feel about their own skills. These occasions can often result in an identification of a training need or a shift of focus if an employee is keen to try other areas of the business or company. Feedback sessions can also be useful to clear the air and to prevent co-worker relationships from becoming hostile, if difficulties and personality clashes are identified, and the management acts to address these issues in a sensitive way.
Most of the time, poor results do not indicate a lack of efforts or commitment, but the absence of proper measurement and feedback system. Corrections in this area have a great impact on improving performance. The impact is greater than what can be obtained by all the other efforts at motivating employees or learners. Great performance itself would then become the biggest motivating force.