It’s no coincidence that the word “feedback” contains the root “feed.” Many business experts consider it “nourishment” for workers, and note that without a steady diet of it, the interest and enthusiasm of employees will wane. When dished out frequently (and digested properly) feedback provides talent with the substance they need to develop and grow on the job.
So, if feedback is indeed like food for employee growth, what’s the best way to serve it up?
Serve it fresh
Feedback delayed is progress denied. To be useful, comments, coaching or kudos need to be served up fresh. As time passes, memories fade. People remember and interpret situations differently. You don’t want feedback (that’s meant to be actionable) to grow stale and spoil over time.
How does the timing of feedback impact long-term performance? When employees receive it repeatedly, they are less likely to leave a company and more likely to stay engaged while they are there. Conversely when feedback is put off, the financial benefits of providing it evaporate as well. The lost revenues associated with not fixing behaviors can mount quickly, while the costs of learning new methods and tactics increase in direct proportion to the time conduct goes uncorrected.
Companies are always looking for new ways to make the assessments employees receive more timely. That’s why many have done away with annual performance reviews in favor of systems that provide faster feedback. With social recognition, the ongoing, positive commentary employees receive is fresher, and thus, more actionable.
Serve it often
Employees say they don’t get enough constructive feedback from their direct supervisors. In fact, the idea that a manager is offering frequent advice, insight and guidance is more likely to be false, than true, in most environments. Just 23% of workers feel the feedback they get from superiors is meaningful. Only 20% feel that their performance is managed in a manner that motivates them.
Those ratios are way out of whack and need to be corrected immediately. It’s no accident that the level of an employee’s engagement is directly related to the amount of feedback they receive. 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week compared to just 18% of employees who have low engagement. Without frequent feedback an employee’s commitment fades.
Manger feedback is critical to employee motivation but it should not be the only source available. Not all feedback needs to come from a direct boss. In fact, peer participation within the feedback loop can be just as (if not more) valuable.
Serve it across a bigger table
When it comes to feedback, more is better. By more I don’t just mean more instances, I also mean from more sources. For employees that means hearing from their colleagues.
Employees relish positive relationships with co-workers. It’s what keeps them anchored at work. Over half feel that a strong sense of community with coworkers has kept them at their company longer than the appeal of the job alone.
Social recognition provides the mechanisms by which employees can recognize one another. It widens the feedback circle by allowing employees the means and opportunity to congratulate co-workers or comment on the praises their work mates have recently received.
Not only does that expand the number of people who participate in the feedback process, it positions them as active players in it. Employees want to be recognized more often. The key to effectiveness is to create a social environment where recognition can flow from peer to peer.