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The critical importance of workplace feedback (and the challenges involved in giving it)

Employee feedback can come from organizational stakeholders of all sorts, but two key sources directly tied to employees’ performance are their managers and peers. Providing feedback is one of a manager’s most important tasks, but managers vary greatly in their ability to do it. With competing priorities, busy travel schedules, and pressing deadlines, finding time to offer employees guidance and encouragement can be tough. Plus, some managers often feel awkward about providing feedback. They don’t know how to do it right, so they don’t do it at all or leave it until an employee’s annual performance review. In a 2016 study, when asked why they didn’t want to give employees feedback, 43% of female managers and 35% of male managers said they were “concerned about seeming mean or hurtful,” and one-quarter of managers surveyed were concerned that employees would no longer like them. Plus, most employees say they meet with their manager infrequently, sometimes as little as less than once a month (56% of millennials and 53% of non-millennials).

A drawback of peer-to-peer feedback in the workplace is the difficulty employees can have in soliciting a meaningful critique-especially if peers are concerned about how their feedback might be received, which could possibly damage peer relationships. And, to top it all off, it can be tough to receive feedback. Reception depends on the messenger-just 19% of millennials say they receive regular feedback, and only 17% say the feedback they do receive is meaningful. Not only that, it’s difficult for employees to know what to do with feedback when they get it if there’s no clear picture provided for how to improve.

Despite these difficulties, employers still highly value the importance of developing critical soft skills. According to LinkedIn, soft skills are the second most important skills to train for among learning and development professionals, and the vast majority of employers (77%) believe that soft skills are just as important as hard skills (which are learned to perform a specific job function and can be measured).

Social Assessment offers employers a feedback framework that’s grounded in the creation of a culture of trust, where negative feedback can be received in the interest of growth. Not only does this help overcome the difficulties involved in soliciting constructive feedback, it also helps improve the quality of the feedback process.

Quote symbol
There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.
– Jack Welch

5 key steps for giving productive feedback

Create safety.

Be positive.

Be specific.

Be immediate.

Be tough and fair,
not personal or mean.

*Source: Entrepreneur

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