We are getting close to the time when organisations go through their performance reviews. Performance development is based on the assumption that people cannot learn and develop unless they receive feedback on how they are progressing. As people are an expensive resource it makes sense to maximise their output by ensuring that every employee performs at their full potential. In performance reviews giving feedback is one of the most important skills. Either conscious or unconscious feedback is given and it establishes the working relationship between manager and employee. Any employee needs feedback to understand where they stand in the organisation. They need this information to assess their role in the team; department and how they are doing. Without regular feedback employees would drift around not knowing what, how and when to act.
Feedback is required to provide motivation and structure to the employee and let him see what the progress is in their day to day work. Feedback in organisations is positive in the sense that its aim is to point the way to further development and improvement, not simply tell people where they have gone wrong (negative feedback). Feedback must report on successes as well as failures. However, failures are treated as opportunities for learning so that they are less likely to be repeated in the future.
Feedback is always factual. It refers to results, events, critical incidents and significant behaviours which have affected the performance in specific ways.
The Key Actions for Giving Constructive Feedback are: –
- State the constructive purpose of your feedback
- Describe specifically what you have observed
- Give positive as well as corrective feedback
- Describe your reaction
- Give the other person the opportunity to respond – Am I correct?
- Offer specific suggestions
- Do not wait too long with giving your feedback
- Summarise and express your support.
Once feedback is given you might want to react on this by restating the sender’s feelings or ideas in your own words, rather than repeating their words. Your words should be saying, “This is what I understand your feelings to be, am I correct?” It not only includes verbal responses, but also nonverbal ones. Nodding your head or squeezing their hand to show agreement, dipping your eyebrows shows you don’t quite understand the meaning of their last phrase, or sucking air in deeply and blowing it hard shows that you are also exasperated with the situation.
The rationale for giving performance feedback is that it will help sustain or improve performance. However, some skill is required when giving feedback, since if it is not done correctly it could result in the employee becoming offended, confused or even de-motivated.