Feedback is, and always has been, essential for growth, collaboration and motivation. Even more so in today’s ever-changing workplace environment. However, unless it is delivered in a way that communicates value, feedback can break down relationships, instil fear and promote disengagement.
Feedback is also a powerful tool that lets employees know how they are progressing. It motivates them and provides insights and suggestions to become their best selves.
Feedback, however, needs to be effective and goal-oriented. Effective feedback is essential for leaders to reach organisational goals by motivating and developing others. There are numerous ways in which feedback can benefit an organisation and an individual if delivered effectively. Goal-oriented feedback focuses on specific behaviour and desired outcomes. This allows employees to take ownership of their behaviour and encourages them to generate pathways towards set objectives.
One way feedback also impacts an organisation is through productivity. How so depends on its delivery.
If employees feel supported and view feedback as an opportunity for growth and personal development, the results will increase productivity.
On the flip side, if employees’ efforts go unacknowledged, they may feel condemned and demotivated. Feelings of failure can creep in, hampering productivity.
From a psychological point of view, a leader‘s emotions influence the team’s emotional contagion. During a feedback session, if the employee feels that the leader is unprepared, unstructured, anxious, stressed or worried, the employee will pick up on the leader’s energy consciously or subconsciously, making the exchange ineffective.
Remember that the objective of feedback is to elevate the other person, not bring them down.
We highlighted the impact feedback has on productivity above. But feedback has a rippling effect in other areas as well. Let’s explore a few:
Besides the negative cultural stigma attached to giving feedback, most leaders aren’t adequately trained to provide constructive feedback. There are massive downsides to feedback delivered in an ineffective or unstructured manner.
Apart from being counter-productive, it often makes both the giver and the receiver uncomfortable. Conventionally, when one gives or receives feedback, there could be an element of criticism and a tendency to highlight weaknesses. Negative emotions associated with feedback often result in defensive behaviour and disengagement.
For starters, a perspective change is required, with managers and teams shifting their mindsets to appreciate feedback as a gift. This perspective shift will make leaders comfortable giving input and employees realising that feedback can be positive and inspiring.
A perspective change doesn’t happen overnight. Concrete steps will have to be taken by organisations to offer leaders suitable training to build the skill of giving feedback and embed the habit within the organisational culture.
Once these steps are in place, the resulting change in the narrative will help build more confident leaders. And as emotions are contagious, this confidence will exude to employees. Ultimately, by providing effective feedback, leaders can not only promote the development and engagement of their employees but also achieve organisational goals.