All of us like to know how we are doing when we are in the process of doing a job. This is true whether one is a very senior executive or the lowest ranked employee in a government organization. Feedback is part of the essential communication protocols that underpin business performance management. This article aims to show some of the benefits of feedback and also highlight some of the loopholes.
Feedback is not only a function of managers but can extend to employees and customers. Although they might be fearful of the managers it is important to encourage employees to talk to their managers in order to resolve any outstanding issues. Once a culture of communication is established it is easier to motivate workers and deliver good business practice.
The type of feedback given may not be as important as the way it is given. If a manager is rude and dismissive, it is likely that the employees will stop thinking about the feedback is but merely concentrate on the curt manner of the manager. It is also important to note that feedback can be both negative and positive. The manager should not hesitate to compliment the subordinate if there is evidence that they have done something well. This helps to re-enforce good behavior. Even where the manager is giving seriously bad feedback, they should endeavor to do it in a sensitive manner so that it is seen as a learning experience rather than as an insult.
The frequency of feedback can also be an issue. Some people take the attitude that no news is good news. However one of the characteristics of good performance management is that it is pro active and does not wait for things to get out of hand before it intervenes. A responsible manager ought to be able to set up a schedule with whatever team they are supervising and provide them with constructive assistance.
It also pays to be aware of how power structures can affect the effectiveness of feedback. If a very senior manager is supervising a very junior employee there is a possibility that that employee will be so overwhelmed by the seniority of the manager that they will not be able to put in suggestions that they would have otherwise undertaken. A career minded ambitious executive might want to tell him supervisor what they want to hear rather than what they ought to hear. However if the manager is diligent and is aware of the potential problems, they can take steps to ensure that the feedback is accurate.
An often overlooked aspect of good feedback is confidentiality. Employees have a certain basic expectations of their managers and their leaders. If this trust is betrayed even once, it is very hard to build it back up. If there are problems with a particular process it is better to speak to the employees concerned directly rather than resorting to gossip and communication delegation. Your employees will have more respect for you if they believe that you stand by your convictions.