Today’s workforce is unlike any other in history. Never before have companies – big and small – had such a varied assortment of employees. Never before have those employees been spread so far and wide in proximity to one another. With the technology available today, workforces are finding new ways to communicate and close the gap that distance, and distance workers, create. That distance, while beneficial in many instances, has not eased the demand for the frequent touchpoints and peer-to-peer connections employees and employers need in order to remain engaged and productive.
The problem is, whether in close proximity or in distance employment, coaching and feedback typically come too late to benefit the employee. Worse yet, in many cases, it simply does not come at all. It’s time we change this downward spiral, and provide all levels of performers with real-time feedback that accelerates performance, builds morale, and increases productivity. In fact, employees who receive helpful, continuous feedback from managers not only perform better, they’re also more engaged. When feedback gives employees praise for a job well done or constructive critiques and appropriate next step, it leads to enhanced output for the performer as well as increased profit for the company.
While positive feedback bolsters desirable employee behavior, helpful feedback encourages employees to get and stay on track and corrects errors without destroying confidence. The biggest problem comes into play when there is simply no feedback given at all. That’s because one of the most valuable things employees can receive is guidance and direction. A lack of feedback often leaves an employee feeling bereft and unsure of what to do next.
A seller who opens a sales call focused on his or her own needs instead of using a customer-focused opening will continue this ineffective behavior in the absence of coaching. They may even be unaware of this oversight and may believe he/she is creating value with these low-value questions. On the contrary, top-performing sellers may not be aware of other areas of strength without the input and support feedback provides.
So, what are the basic components of this all-important feedback? To be valuable, feedback must be:
- Expected – establish fair, balanced and objective expectations
- Perspectives – inclusive of the employee to manager, Peer to peer
- Cadence – given on a consistent basis
The best way to demonstrate a commitment to coaching and feedback is to reinforce these characteristics as part of the organizational culture. Team meetings and one-on-one discussions are great ways to use feedback to support a culture of coaching. Feedback is one of the most powerful tools in a manager’s arsenal and one of the least used. It’s time to change this feedback dynamic and establish regular feedback at every performance level.