Why feedback?

Feedback is not a new phenomenon. It happens to a varying extent in every workplace, in every relationship, at different times, whether we are aware of it or not. At Feedwork we work professionally together with professionals and organizations implementing feedback into their everyday culture. Even though most people agree that giving, receiving and asking for feedback is a sensible thing to do, a meta-study from 1996 found that more than one third of roughly 23.000 observed feedback interactions led to poorer performance.

We have felt the effects of good and bad feedback in our own lives, we have seen it in many of our clients’ organizations, and we know from experience that with little effort and just a few good tools to improve the quality of feedback, we can avoid ending up in the wrong third. Here you will find several reasons why feedback will benefit your culture and business.

What makes you curious about feedback?

Engaged employees

Engaged employees are employees who are excited to go to work and who engage enthusiastically in the work and the workplace. Ensuring high engagement among employees is very in at the moment, and we get why. Many studies show that organizations with highly engaged employees perform better in a number of areas. Research from Gallup on employee engagement involving more than 1,8 million employees and more than 82.000 work units across the world found

Substantial correlation between high engagement in the unit and high performance.

Work units in the top half of measured engagement had nearly double the chances of success as the bottom half.

Several factors play into the level of engagement from employees, and good feedback is a vital part of this equation. Another Gallup study found that there is a correlation between the type of feedback employees experience receiving and the probability of them being highly engaged

61% of the employees who experienced receiving feedback based on their strengths were engaged

45% of the employees who experienced receiving feedback based on their weaknesses were engaged

2% of the employees who did not experience receiving any feedback were engaged

If you want engaged employees, it is relevant to have a look at your use of feedback within the organization to see whether it is done in the best way possible. Feedback is not only about frequency, but also about how we give feedback and the results we create using feedback as a tool.

Motivation is a central piece in fostering engaged employees. Read more about how to foster motivation here.

Performance

Feedback done right leads to better performance. Kluger and DeNisi’s meta-study from 1996 found a correlation between the focus of the feedback and the probability of it improving overall performance. '

Feedback focused on the task led to better performance
Feedback focused on the person led to worse performance

Another study from 2002 looked into the effect of various performance management strategies and found that feedback had a significant impact on motivation, commitment and performance among employees. In particular, the study found that formal feedback is more powerful if it is experienced as being strength-based, and most importantly, that it is experienced as being fair and specific.

At Feedwork, we believe that feedback is the catalyst to increase performance in a number of areas. Whether the goal is to have more efficient meetings, improve the quality of presentations or improve the quality of customer service, good feedback is essential in order to reach the goal. If you are a leader, your individual conversations with your employees might be a good place to start focusing on good feedback.

Additional readings on feedback: Why is feedback so difficult?

 

Meaning, well-being and work environment

Humans are social animals who find meaning through fitting in with a group, but at the same time, we strive for constant personal development and improvement. This dilemma is what sometimes makes life hard. We want to know that we are good enough, but we also want input as to how we can improve.

Good feedback is a big determinant for whether we are happy at work or not. Most of us have felt this in our own lives. Have you ever tried helping a colleague with their project and then heard nothing back? We start to doubt whether our work even makes a difference because we are not given sufficient feedback. If we experience this frequently, our well-being at work will decrease.

An American study found that 68% of employees who experienced getting continual performance feedback considered their work to be meaningful while only 33% of employees who did not experience getting continual performance feedback did. In other words, there is a correlation between the amount of feedback we get and how meaningful we find our jobs.

Furthermore, there is a correlation between motivation, well-being and feedback in the workplace. In 2007, a meta-study involving 259 studies and more than 200.000 participants tried to investigate the relationship between a number of work-related factors and their effects on well-being, motivation and commitment among other things. The meta-study found that feedback from both leaders and colleagues had a substantial positive effect on motivation and well-being.

Learning culture

The point of learning is to close the gap between current skills and performance and future goals. More simply put, we learn because it enables us to solve the challenges we are faced with or wish to take on in the future.

There are many ways to learn: we can read books, take (online) courses, listen to lectures, reflect on our own or get good feedback from others. Note the word “good” here, because as we mentioned in the section about performance above, not all feedback leads to more learning and higher performance.

If you want to establish a culture focused on learning, where we can quickly and efficiently acquire relevant skills and competences to perform better, you have to ask yourself if you are using feedback actively as a tool in your company. Feedback should not only be a top-down process from the more experienced to the less experienced, but should also work as a bottom-up process where employees give their leader feedback.

At the same time, you should ask yourself if you have the right environment for honest feedback to exist. Research from Google found that the biggest explanatory factor for team performance was psychological safety, that is whether team members felt secure taking risks and showing vulnerability in front of other group members. In other words, psychological safety is a prerequisite for your employees to feel confident giving honest feedback, asking others for feedback or asking “dumb” questions.

 

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