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Five tips for giving better feedback

April 19, 2011

Employee engagement is undoubtedly one of the key management phrases of the moment. So it should be, with Hay Group research reporting that just 15% of the workforce is ‘highly motivated’.

The vicious and virtuous cycles of feedback

Aim for the Virtuous Circle rather than the Vicious Circle, this can positively impact productivity & profitability.

Blessing White’s 2011 Employee Engagement Report surveyed over 10,000 employees and found that 18% wanted greater clarity about their role whilst 14% wanted regular and specific feedback on performance. Both results suggest that if managers were to give regular face to face feedback morale would rise.

Gallup has found that engaged workgroups show stronger productivity and profitability, while safety incidents and absenteeism are reduced. They have calculated that these engaged organisations can achieve 3.9 times the earnings per share (EPS) growth rate compared with organisations with lower engagement in the same industry.

Engagement is not just a ‘nice to have’ it’s now a commercial imperative, as disengaged employees can and will sabotage an organisation’s bottom line, as can be seen at British Airways.

Far more effective than an ‘Annual Employee Engagement Survey’ is an old fashioned one to one. With email and efficient meeting agendas restricting so much of our communication to specific subject headings, it’s more important than ever to take time to talk to team members without a set agenda.

Here are five suggestion for giving better feedback:

1. Give praise in person – even if you are just saying thank you for a small contribution do so face to face rather than by text or email.

2. Ask for advice and opinion – high ranking managers can always learn from those who are closer to the customer. Being asked to share our insights is highly motivating.

3. Talk about the future – ask the other person what they hope to achieve the long term, taking an interest in an employee’s potential builds loyalty and gives an insight the motives that drive behaviour.

4. Discuss recent highs and lows – What went well? What can be improved? How can you improve? Is it clear? When discussing areas for improvement be sure to finish with a dose of sincere praise. This way the other person leaves knowing you are on their side, reflecting on how they can improve and not angry with you for finding fault in their work.

5. Set goals together – all too often targets are presented without discussion with the person whose job it is to achieve the goal. By talking through objectives not only will your colleague feel engaged but they may well tell you that their target could be exceeded.

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