The leadership development programmes we run are completely bespoke. One module that always gets selected by leaders is feedback. They know it's important, but can't seem to nail it, because at first it is hard, uncomfortable and needs a little courage.
So Why do feedback in the first place?
The way like, I like to think about it is as if you had a car or a machine that wasn’t working. It may not be listening to commands or controls or getting you into trouble in some way, so you want to fix it. So, you listen to that feedback, get information, and then try and do something to make performance increase. Humans are no different except that the reasons behind poor performance or mistakes might be really complex and challenging. And the response to the feedback is going to be different for each person depending on the relationship that you have with that person.
But we need to do feedback to improve performance. Here are the top seven reasons to build a culture of feedback.
- It keeps everybody on track. If you really care about what good looks, are clear about what the goal is, what needs to be done and by who, then it's really easy to be able to track that performance and know when people are achieving, and when they're not. When things are working the feedback is obviously going to be positive and you need to let people know they are doing well. Of course, when it's not so great, you need to handle it in the most appropriate manner and as quickly as possible, so that you can stop poor performance, failures or mistakes stop happening.
- Stops longer term big mistakes. If you don't address a behaviour or a mistake when it happens, then other people will think that it’s OK and that’s the standard or norm around here. If you let poor performance or mistakes go unaddressed, others will too. And if you don't tell the person that their behaviour or their performance is not on track, then they will think everything's okay and they're going keep on doing it. You're almost stacking up all those mole hills and making a huge mountain - basically you're not even managing which is basically your job.
- Builds relationships. Feedback becomes so much easier when there is trust and feedback in turns builds trust. When everyone knows that they on track, what you really think about them, whether they're pleasing you or whether they're disappointing you, there is no second guessing. People feel safe. Everybody wants to fit in to your tribe and and feel like they're doing a good job and adding value and giving them feedback helps them do that. So, by having that honest, transparent, trust-based feedback, you can really strengthen relationships.
- Motivates. Everybody always wants to improve. We are a species that loves to evolve. We want to know if we are doing a good job and hate to disappoint. By giving that feedback, especially the praise and the regular recognition feedback, you motivate others to do more. You are giving them a dopamine shot and that feels good, so they want to repeat. Equally when negative feedback is received with an action or plan then it gives somebody something to go for, a new challenge with direction and purpose. It's incredibly motivating.
- Growth and development. Feedback helps people grow, develop, and learn, especially when you're reflecting on lessons learned. In your regular check in sessions reflect on a piece of work or a situation, ask “how did it go, what went well, what didn't go well?” Share what you saw, heard, or experienced and then coach them on how to take even bigger, better, or bolder steps. It’s all about incremental gains and continuous improvement.
- Creates a friendlier work environment. If everybody knows that they're being held up to the same high-performance standards, and everybody knows that they will be held to account for their work, their behaviours, and their performance, then conflict and resentment is minimised. Name calling and gossip stops because you are leading a completely fair and transparent and inclusive environment.
- And finally, number seven is that performance increases. If everybody is performing a little bit better, standards are raised and behaviour improves, results surely follow. You are continually raising the bar rather than creating a rush to mediocracy. When everyone strives to gain a little bit more knowledge and feels free to take a little bit more personal responsibility because of the feedback culture, then ultimately your business is going to perform better. Your team is going to generate better results and isn’t that what you want?
Next up, I will share how building a feedback culture is essential if you want to achieve high performance.
If you would like focus on creating a feedback culture in your business, get in touch and we can create a series of virtual workshops and online courses to meet your needs.