Before we delve into the details of the topic, let’s take a quick look at a few figures:
- Every year US businesses waste over $105 billion dealing with employees who perform poorly. Compare this figure to other countries: $1.4b in Sweden, $5.1b in Hong Kong, $10.9b in India and $24.7b in the UK.
- US managers spend 16% of their working time correcting or redoing mistakes made by other workers – this equals to over 1h every day. This activity equals 9% in Sweden, 25% in Hong Kong, 21% in India and 12% in the UK.
Could employee feedback change the described situation for better? What does the term Two-Way feedback mean? Could productivity and relationships between co-workers be improved with the help of constructive feedback? This article will let you take a look at the reality of today’s working processes, offer a few considered strategies that have already proved their effectiveness, and let you draw your own conclusion.
What’s Two-Way Feedback about?
The meaning of the term “give feedback” is simple: a person is told how they go at work. Two-Way feedback is not about just that – a person accepts what the surrounding tells them, without becoming defensive or feeling resentful if what they hear is no all good. They also consider the ways to improve their performance that others suggest.
A lot of people associate feedback with criticism. Yet, it definitely should include encouragement and be reasonable.
The good news in feedback
Positive feedback means telling someone they manage well. To praise someone you can:
- Thank a person for a certain job they’ve done well;
- Commend a person for being initiative and helping you to solve a problem;
- Discuss with people their plans and opportunities regarding career;
- Discuss the progress of a whole team;
- Celebrate important achievements of a team.
Positive feedback should motivate everyone to keep performing well. Unfortunately, the reality is different:
- According to a recent large-scale study that has involved over 140,000 employees working in 950 major organizations, 91% of employees are surrounded with the negative culture of conformity, indecision, and blame at their workplaces.
- According to another year-long study which involved 1200 senior executive workers, managers tend to focus on their employees’ flows rather than achievements. This leads to the rise of passive and defensive culture at a workplace; employees tend to avoid extra responsibility and pass the blame.
Bad news in feedback
Sometimes we can’t avoid delivering ‘bad news’. Yet, it’s important to mind the limits and not substitute positive criticism with rebuke and end up distressing a person.
Before you start an unpleasant conversation, it’s best to think through what exactly you’re going to say. Very often, the one who initiates such talk may go too far because they don’t know what they have to say and how they should do it. Those who have a bad experience of making other people feel too stressed, sulked, cry or become defensive, can get nervous and make the situation even more awkward.
Building a Culture of Feedback
To reduce the level of stress in relationships between staff and managers, one should build such kind of culture at a workplace, where each person is comfortable with feedback regarding his/her performance.
How does a leader should think and act?
Taking and giving feedback should start with business owners, managers, and team leaders; they should look at their business from a wide perspective.
Workers should be inspired to follow their leaders, and build a strong business together. Here’s what you should know, to lead the staff effectively:
- Where the business is heading;
- What should you and your staff do to become successful;
- In what way the staff can help their leader;
- How should the staff behave – at the workplace, with the clients, and amongst each other.
These questions define real importance behind all efforts. You should take some time to think them over. Once you know the answers, you can take steps that helped other owners to make their businesses successful:
- Involve your staff in discussing your plans and ideas.
- Explain to them the importance of customer service, and suggest the ways to improve it.
- Develop a list of standards, common for workers, that covers: customer work, time management, teamwork, relationships between workers, professional ethics, etc.
- Make feedback culture common and acceptable for all workers; help them understand that giving and receiving feedback helps the company to evolve.
Learn to Understand the Needs of Your Staff
While having big expectations on your staff, you should pay them back with the ability to listen, understand and be ready for changes. Here’s a list of five top essentials that workers appreciate most at their workplaces:
- Perfect leaders – those who have integrity, are trustworthy and supportive;
- Clear goals and values – having purposes, and a workplace culture acceptable for everyone;
- Quality of relationships – working in a team where workers have mutual respect and trust each other;
- Being able to express one’s opinion – participating in decision-making;
- Feeling safe – psychologically and physically.
Constructive Feedback Is not about Criticism
If you don’t explain to people what they are doing wrong, they may not realize it themselves. ‘Unpleasant’ talks are essential; otherwise, your business may suffer.
What you should avoid is criticism and reproaching targeted at a person; always stick to the constructive feedback of one’s actions.
Instead of reproaching someone with the words such as: “You are late again!” or “You always miss deadlines!” provide this person with concrete examples and explain the effect of such behavior on other workers and your business in general. Involve them in finding a solution together.
Even if in certain cases reason and negotiating just won’t work, a positive attitude is what you should start with.
An established feedback culture implies accepting feedback yourself. Remember that some people might not know how to be constructive. So, be patient, control your emotions, and try not to act defensively.
- Don’t interrupt the speaker;
- Discuss what you disagree with, don’t rebut it;
- Clarify what’s wrong by asking questions;
- Acknowledge what’s true; don’t immediately change own position though if you have a good reason;
- Take time to think before acting.
Tips for staff
Some bosses may take staff’s feedback as criticism, become defensive, or even worse – await a chance for retribution. Guidelines below may help workers:
- Always stay polite and patient;
- Suggest step-by-step improvements;
- Prepare thoroughly for giving feedback;
- Show you are ready to help change the situation.
Two-Way feedback may be helpful if done right!