“How many of you received appreciation or praise from a colleague, manager or client in the last seven days?”
Only eight of the 16 new hires in the room raised their hands.
“How many of you would like to receive feedback at least once a month to help you know how you’re doing in your role?”
This time everyone raised their hands.
I was sitting in at a ‘Group Lunch with the CEO’, a tradition for new hires at one of our clients in Malaysia to help improve their on-boarding process.
We all crave feedback, consciously and otherwise and in all the different forms that it comes in; verbal, actions, visual, recognition, and written.
And that can be a good thing. 69% of 899 employees surveyed by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman indicate that they’ll work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.
Even constructive negative feedback is welcome. 92% of respondents agreed with the assertion, “Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.”
In a poll of employees using SelfDrvn, we discovered that 95.3% of employees want feedback regularly, at most once in six months. Almost 70% of the respondents want feedback at least once a month.
We recommend verbally giving positive feedback for good performance and taking corrective actions immediately or as soon as possible, rather than later.
A more thoughtful and detailed performance review (based primarily on overall performance and not an individual event) can be given later as written feedback.
Written feedback has proven to be more impactful in helping employees improve their performance. Because, unlike with verbal feedback, employees can re-read written evaluations at any time and continue to get positive boosts from the feedback.
Unfortunately, if the feedback is negative or badly written, it also lasts for a long time.
Writing effective feedback
What we must do is to craft and give written feedback that is constructive and meaningful even when it is a critique.
That way, employees can use it as a guide to stay on track. It is important that written feedback meets eight crucial conditions:
- Outline what you’re trying to say —with a topic—and the desired outcomes that you want to achieve in the long-term.
- For every critique, your written feedback should contain six positive messages. Studies show that if the number of positive feedback is less, employees ignore the good feedback and only pay attention to the bad review.
- Feedback must include the impacts (why it matters) of their positive or negative actions. This allows employees to understand that they are a crucial part of the team and are contributing to a larger purpose.
- It should also include examples and metrics to back up why you are giving them feedback—especially but not limited to a critique. This helps employees know what behaviours and actions to repeat to continue to perform well or those to avoid.
- Your written feedback should explicitly encourage employees to undertake more of the behaviour that you want to promote. Be generous, you can’t say it too much.
- In giving negative feedback, ask for the employee’s perspective before you offer solutions. Then, suggest corrective measures, an action plan and a timeframe to encourage employees’ accountability.
- Invite feedback from the employee. Schedule a meeting or a time to discuss your feedback—particularly with negative reviews.
- We all crave feedback. However, no one likes hearing negative feedback. No matter how constructive it is. Always thank employees and make it clear that you value their efforts and contributions.
These eight steps create an emotional connection by allowing employees to understand that the feedback is not a personal attack on them. Rather, it helps them grow to be better people.
With that understanding, employees are more likely to increase their performance in areas that they have received positive feedback while improving in areas that have negative feedback.
Measure and improve
The eight steps are only one (important) part of ensuring that employees have the necessary feedback that they require to perform optimally. It helps leaders connect emotionally—one person to another—to show employees how important they are to you and the organization, and that the relationship is more than a single, one-off task or project.
However, feedback should not be restricted to only written reviews. And certainly not an annual occurrence. A good feedback culture should include all the different types of feedback from various sources and contact points within and outside the organisation.
As studies show, the more regularly employees receive impactful and constructive feedback, the better their performance at work. Employee recognition should not be kept for special occasions.
Ideally, the entire feedback process should be structured as a campaign—with phases of coaching, development and performance management—rather than one-offs. It should also include a system to track and measure the impact of given and received feedback, and improve as necessary.
In summary, written feedback is more impactful for long-term employee motivation as they last longer and your reports can easily refer to the feedback for frequent boosts. It also contributes to—but should not be used as a complete replacement for—regular ad-hoc feedback which have been shown to significantly increase employee performance.
However, it must be created strategically in line with the eight points highlighted here to deliver the right long-term emotional connection, even for negative feedback.
Want to encourage, track and measure feedback in your organization and not sure where to start? Contact us to get started with a free demo account today.