“Who gets too much feedback at work?” asks a facilitator at a conference about employee engagement. The room is silent.

It’s a common sentiment shared by both managers and employees alike – workplace feedback is in short supply and this is a problem.

In a study conducted by the Corporate Leadership Council (2003) results found that employees who received feedback from their manager on a consistent basis, that was both fair and accurate, performed up to 40% better than the counterparts who didn’t receive any feedback on their performance over a set period of time.

Giving effective feedback is one of the most fundamental tools to help manage and improve your employees’ performance. According to another recent survey on workplace engagement, conducted by Gallup (2013) which reported the ‘State of the American workplace’, 70% of US employees were disengaged. Gallup furthermore shares data which supports that feedback is key to employee engagement, and in turn increases a better bottom-line – the main goal of any business.

Some performance problems can be costly to fix. It might require upgrading your technology systems or investing in extensive retraining programs which are not only costly, but time consuming. But there is something one can do in between time and might even stop more desperate measures that doesn’t cost you or your company anything – it’s feedback.

What is feedback?

Feedback is information about past behaviour, given in the present, with the hope of influencing future behaviour by choice. When done effectively it can improve results and strengthen relationships.

In a work context, feedback is an essential element for everyone. Giving feedback on work performance is part of every manager’s job. It lets people know where they are and where to go in terms of expectations and goals – encouraging and guiding people back on track toward successful performance.

Why does feedback have a strong impact on performance?

People aren’t usually aware or don’t see their own performance or behaviour objectively or accurately from the outside. Feedback shouldn’t be limited to the times you do Performance Evaluations. It’s an ongoing process between manager and team. When you want people to hear your feedback and to make changes (or to continue to do something), focus on information—and keep judgments on character to yourself.

An ongoing process

When you make the conscious decision to give and receive feedback on a regular basis you demonstrate that feedback is a powerful means of personal development. When done in the right way and with the right intentions, feedback communication is the avenue to stellar performance. Employees have to know what they are doing well and not so well. For them to really hear your thoughts and suggestions on ways to improve, feedback needs to be delivered carefully and consistently.

Useful feedback is directed toward the future. Though feedback begins with consideration of past and current behaviours and job performance it doesn’t end there. Useful feedback uses past actions as way to develop effective plans for future actions. With regular practice, an open mindset and continuous learning about how to give and accept feedback effectively, you can become a more informed, respected and effective manager and leader.

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