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Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Employee Feedback But Were Literally Afraid To Ask

David Mizne
David Mizne

Woah! What an April! More articles about continuous employee feedback were published in this one month than we’ve seen in any other month over the last half-decade.

Amazon and Nike both made headlines, the former for a company-wide roll out of Connections, a daily Q&A feedback program that is being received with some employee skepticism. Amazonians are far more excited about Forte, introduced last year to simplify and improve their performance review process with a focus on employee strengths.

As for Nike, news regarding the introduction of employee feedback software was bittersweet. The launch of their feedback system is meant to allow “employees to confidentially report workplace concerns as it continues an investigation into complaints of inappropriate behavior”.

So whether you are trying to remedy a toxic culture of harassment, improve productivity, or are motivated by the bajillion other reasons to communicate with your employees, this post is for you. Below are a selection of the latest and best employee feedback articles from around the web:

1) Employee Feedback Strategy: Your Guide to Success

By Fresia Jackson

Our friends at Culture Amp friggin’ nailed it with this one. Some have never heard of the phenomenon of soliciting quantitative and qualitative information from employees. Others are unfamiliar with the practice of providing people with your perspective on their performance. For those folks, this piece is a great place to start.

Fresia suggests building a “culture of feedback” by developing a comprehensive employee feedback strategy. To be effective this strategy must be part of an overall process and must be used to improve employee performance in a timely manner.

A successful employe feedback strategy focuses on all aspects of the team experience, from employee learning and development to management effectiveness. One critical component is the human element–anonymous feedback shouldn’t replace the all important in-person conversations between people at your company, especially between managers and employees.

Ready to take your one on ones between managers and employees to the next level? Try our best in class 1-on-1 meeting agenda software.

2) How to Give Feedback That Actually Works, Without Hurting Anyone More Than You Have To

By Leah Fessler & Khe Hy

In 2016, The New York Times published abundant research from Google regarding what it takes to build effective teams. They found that “more communicative, honest cultures drive increased productivity, innovation, and employee satisfaction”. Because many companies look to successful tech giants like Google and adopt their management systems and strategies, these findings helped to fuel the feedback revolution.

Quartz created this guide to add more fuel to the feedback fire, because the authors recognized that the practice of communicating reflections about employee performance can be complicated. Research by Zenger/Folkman found that nearly half of all managers dread giving negative feedback. And employees can have a hard time accepting critical feedback because of the conflict that exists between the drive to grow and develop, and the desire to be accepted as we are.

Fessler and Hy offer tons of advice in this guide for managers, including losing the “feedback sandwich”, being direct and candid, and knowing the purpose behind your feedback. Managers must also remember to give constructive praise, since many of us are quick to notice what’s wrong but employees need to know what they are doing right.

3) Mastering the Art of Negative Feedback

By Arlene Hirsch

As I stated above, many managers are afraid of giving critical feedback. How fortunate that clinical professional counselor Arlene Hirsch offers advice for company leaders in this article.

She explains how many companies still use the dreaded annual performance review as the primary means for managers to provide performance feedback. Because these reviews are so remote, “people being evaluated can feel unfairly judged on things that happened months earlier and don’t seem relevant.”

So Arlene suggests using developmental feedback which is more forward-looking and relationship-oriented. Real-time feedback, along with coaching and guidance can actually influence future employee performance instead of criticizing what has already occurred. She quotes Linda Richardson’s book, Sales Coaching: Making the Great Leap from Sales Manager to Sales Coach:

“Developmental feedback looks forward to what we [the coach and the person being coached] can do to improve and create a better picture for the future… Developmental feedback empowers because it helps people identify obstacles they face and reinforces their role in removing the obstacles each day.”

4) Increase Employee Engagement by 300% With This Daily Practice

By Christine Comaford

Christine is also not a fan of annual reviews and she offers a new approach to standard performance management, called Performance Motivation. Managers can inspire maximum performance not by grading it but by using a process that creates intrinsic motivation and benefits both the employee and the company.

Employee feedback therefore needs to be more frequent and informal, and Christine advises the use of a tool called The Feedback Frame. The first step is to build rapport because unless employees feel safe and genuinely supported they won’t be able to receive the feedback managers provide. One way to build this sense of safety is that everyone throughout the organization gives and receives feedback without exception.

5) Why HR Can’t Expect Continuous Learning Without Regular Feedback

By Riia O’Donnell

Et tu HR? Yes, Human Resources (or People Ops for you progressive types) has a huge responsibility to create the structure and strategy of employee feedback at a company. This article begins by luring us in with some eye opening employee feedback statistics:

– According to PwC, 60% of employees want feedback on a daily or weekly basis (and that number is much higher for younger employees)

– Gallup reports that employees who received strengths feedback had 14.9% less turnover than employees who received none

– LinkedIn found nearly 70% of employees said they would work harder if their efforts were recognized

According to Riia, employee feedback is actually a form of learning but for many employees the term is synonymous with criticism and censure. To change that impression, the when and how of providing feedback is as important as the what. For example, employees should never be criticized publicly. And even positive feedback like employee appreciation might be best when offered behind closed doors. It all depends how the individual likes to be appreciated.

Given the performance review revolution, it’s no wonder that continuous employee feedback is on the top of everyone’s minds lately. We have said for years that soliciting and providing feedback are vital business practices for building genuine, trusting relationships between employees and managers and influencing desired business outcomes.

Today the stakes are even higher because employee’s crave growth and development. Companies that wish to retain their best and brightest should be providing these learning opportunities. Managers can simply discover these opportunities for individual growth via a comprehensive performance management strategy that includes direct and continuous employee feedback.

David MizneDavid Mizne is Marketing Communications Manager at 15Five, continuous performance management software that includes weekly check-ins, objectives (OKR) tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and reviews. David’s articles have appeared on The Next Web & TalentCulture. Follow him @davidmizne.

Image Credit: Ben White on Unsplash