Imagine someone blindfolds you, drops you off at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and tells you not to be late to your 5 o’clock meeting in Arlington. You have no map, no car, and no money. Sure, it might be possible, but the odds are gravely against you.
While this scenario is extreme, it is representative of an employee who receives no feedback from their manager. According to a study by Watson Wyatt Worldwide Inc., more than 60 percent of employees said they don’t get adequate feedback from their managers. Of those participating, 43 percent said they don’t get enough feedback to improve performance.
Effective and timely feedback is critical—and not only for the feel-good factor. Feedback gives employees guidance and helps managers shape behavior and boost performance.
According to Gallup, there are powerful links between employees who are engaged in their jobs and the achievement of crucial business outcomes. Gallup studies have shown that companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings and share. Those companies also experience fewer quality defects, fewer safety incidents, less turnover and less absenteeism.
Employee engagement can determine if a company will thrive or not. When employees are engaged, they buy into the mission and values of a company and work hard to not only meet the goals set for their work, but also for the objectives of the company.
So, how do companies get there?
The first step in employee feedback is to establish a positive professional relationship with employees. Employees need to know they are more than a cog in the wheel and that they are appreciated and valued.
Setting goals: employees and managers should work together to develop performance goals and expectations. These guidelines will serve as the roadmap for how an employee performs the duties of their job, and in a way that meets the expectations of the manager and company. Goals need to be tangible and measurable so that conversations can focus on concrete information rather than ambiguous objectives. This feedback will reduce confusion and give managers the opportunity to help employees improve the quality of work.
Timely and often: effective feedback must take place often and timely. Once a year performance reviews do not count as effective feedback. Managers need to meet with employees frequently to discuss project status and performance. If there are issues to address, they can be dealt with promptly. Accordingly, if an employee has met or exceeded expectations, timely, positive feedback will demonstrate the manager’s gratitude and value for the employee. According to the Harvard Business Review, 69 percent of employees said they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.
Employees look to their managers for coaching and mentorship. Feedback provides a critical opportunity to teach and engage employees, and can deliver a significant boost in performance and to the bottom line.