We live in a feedback-based society. If it’s not your mechanic or rideshare driver asking you to leave a rating, it’s the hotel, dog groomer or banking app. And before we buy a product, choose a new restaurant to dine at, or read a book, we check the reviews. These evaluations are powerful. They shed light on real customer experiences. That way, management and leadership know what to keep doing and/or what to change for the better. Not to mention, they help consumers decide where to spend their time and money.
So, if we all understand the importance of reviewing businesses and products as necessary for improvement and growth, then why is there such a disconnect when it comes to giving and receiving feedback at work?
Feedback for blindspots
We all need feedback. At work, at home, and in friendships. Wouldn’t you want someone to tell you that you have spinach in your teeth? Sure, the feedback may cause momentary pause and embarrassment, but wouldn’t you rather know in the long run?
We tend to avoid anything that makes us uncomfortable. That’s why building the practice of ongoing feedback in the workplace can be such a challenge. For the same reasons that you would let someone talk all the way through lunch with salad in their teeth…you don’t want any tension or awkwardness. Think of how mortified you would be if they let you head into a post-lunch meeting with a giant parsley leaf in between your chompers. You’d want to know the same thing when it comes to your blindspots at work.
Feedback for growth
Just like anything else, management practices evolve and change over time. Gone are the days when management only spoke to you when you were “in trouble.” More open communication between leadership and employees is starting to become the norm.
There are definitely generational gaps to consider. Baby Boomers and Generation X have often described Millennial employees as “entitled” and having a lack of commitment. In reality, it all comes down to communication and feedback. Millennials grew up with the internet, which delivered constant and immediate feedback. Let’s face it, you said, “goo goo ga ga” and they said, “Google.” Because of the hard work and technological advancements of the generations before them, Millennials were able to communicate more easily and frequently – through emails, instant messaging, and social media. So, when it comes to work, they crave more than just the standard annual review. They’re looking to build real relationships with their employer. They want an open dialogue to make sure they’re meeting the company’s expectations, as well as checking the boxes for their own professional development.
Giving feedback that helps
More frequent feedback can be beneficial for a number of reasons. Here are a few:
- Course Correction: If an employee is missing the mark, you can discuss the issue as soon as it comes up instead of waiting until their annual review. They might feel embarrassed or confused as to why it wasn’t brought up sooner. Adjustments can be made in real time.
- Retaining Talent: Continuous feedback ensures that all employees are heard. Even small issues can be addressed quickly. Nobody up and quits for something that could have been addressed in a weekly or monthly meeting.
- Increased Engagement: When employees receive frequent feedback and feel seen and heard, they feel more engaged and valued in their roles. It shows that their contributions are noticed and appreciated, which can boost morale and motivation.
Feedback to build trust
But feedback can and should go up and down the chain. Having employees be honest about how they like to be managed and how they prefer to receive feedback can be mutually beneficial. This builds trust between leadership and employees. It can improve relationships, increase productivity, and reduce conflicts. Especially in our remote/hybrid environment, the more communication, the better, as there is no immediate feedback loop in a hybrid environment. This can look like scheduling recurring virtual meetings or check-in calls. Even a 15 or 30 minutes to catch up can do wonders for deepening the relationship
As with all things we do at Orange Leaf, we recommend approaching feedback (giving and receiving) with kindness and gratitude. Managers, be thankful that employees are looking to improve their performance. Employees, be grateful that your manager is receptive and listens. The relationship is symbiotic. Fostering a communicative and open working environment creates a more satisfied workforce, ultimately benefiting both employee and employer. You’ll become each other’s mirrors – this way, nobody leaves the room with spinach in their teeth!