Too Much, Too Little: How Much Feedback is Right for an Employee?

October 25, 202111:45 am3601 views
Too Much, Too Little: How Much Feedback is Right for an Employee?
aleksey-martynyuk via istockphoto

New employees on a steep learning curve, like those in consulting or law, know that communication and coaching are critical to their success. While sharing positive feedback can help employees grow in their role, how can a supervisor minimize the impact of negative feedback on the employee and the organization at large?

What is Employee Feedback?

Employee feedback is the process of communicating with employees on their job performances, capacities, or behavior. Contrary to popular belief, feedback is not just about being critical. Feedback is intended to guide employees in the direction of practices and resources that can help them accomplish their job more efficiently. It should also be focused on recognizing and rewarding employee achievements. For employee feedback to be effective, managers must listen as much as they speak because employees are more attentive to feedback once it becomes a two-way process. More than just being told what to do, employees are aware when their voices are being heard and that their contributions are being acknowledged.

Why is Employee Feedback Important?

Employee feedback is essential since it informs employees about where they stand and what they can do better. Employee feedback, when delivered carefully, enables people to thrive at their jobs. It also strengthens communication between the employees and company while allowing for a continuous, mutual two-way relationship. Effective employee feedback is significantly related to increased employee morale and productivity. Once the appropriate feedback is executed properly, it can have a huge long-term impact on retention, job satisfaction, and overall business success.

Read Also: What to Do When An Employee Shows Up Late

How to Give an Effective Employee Feedback

Although there is no completely foolproof tactic for doing so, there are some recommended practices to follow when offering feedback.

1 . Give Timely Direct Feedback

As you wait, little faults can become bigger ones, and the individual getting the criticism is more likely to become hostile if you point out problems that date back weeks, months, or years. You can also limit employees’ opportunity to improve during the period of feedback. It is also simpler to fix difficulties when they are addressed as soon as possible. Remember not to be in such a rush when you deliver the message by email or text, because written communication contains considerably less subtlety than speaking activities.

2 . Try Not to Communicate Vaguely

When addressing a problem, it is critical to provide concrete details of where the problem lies. Be as specific as possible about when and where you observed the problem, as well as why it is deemed as an issue. Both employees and managers are prone to act ‘vaguely’ when explaining sensitive issues as a defense mechanism. While this is a natural response, try to give employees safe space so they can specifically explain their thoughts. Asking open ended questions is one way to give effective employee feedback. Specific, practical input is significantly more beneficial, because it drives everyone toward a genuine solution. 

3 . Keep an eye out for any power imbalances.

HR managers must constantly remind themselves that there are unconscious prejudices and unwritten power structures at work. For example, newer employees may feel frightened from a simple “Can I call you after office to discuss something?” compared to employees that have worked longer in a company. Despite having a good intention, this fear is unbearable for many due to imbalance of power. So, this is critical to keep your social status in mind as you prepare to offer feedback, especially if you are in a position of authority. Taking this into consideration allows you to give better psychological well being, allowing you to bring out the best in everyone on your team.

Key Takeaways from Dmitry Orlov

Expert from the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester, Dmitry Orlov, offers a view on how transparent a manager should be. Their research titled “Optimal Design of Internal Disclosure” explores the design of performance evaluations and internal communication within organizations. The research determined that messages related to good performance are shared more frequently with employees than messages associated with bad performances.

Sharing all feedback with employees is ideal, although the optimal design of well-managed communication is only partially transparent. If information indicating a negative performance is disclosed, employees are aware that they have done poorly and offering incentives for hitting certain performance measurements can be interpreted as punishment.

Within companies that utilize pay for performance incentives, disclosing positive performance leads to higher productivity and better allocation of resources and effort. However, bad performance messaging causes less information sharing in later evaluation periods, making it difficult to motivate employees in the future. This can leave employees discouraged and on the hunt for a new job, all while paying less attention to their current job. Orlov suggested that partial transparency about employee performance is the way to go for companies.

In the end, well-managed firms are neither fully transparent nor fully opaque with their employees. While it is clear that giving feedback to employees can improve productivity, it should be noted that greater the feedback is, the higher the cost of compensation over time. While employees know more about how much effort they exert, their supervisor controls the verifiable result of that effort, measuring and designing both a compensation plan and the flow of information.

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