Let’s Address the Employee Feedback Abyss (Part 2)

In part 1 of the employee feedback abyss, we covered why employees crave and require more frequent feedback, and why a lack of workplace feedback is becoming a seemingly insurmountable problem for organisations.

The result of this new paradigm has been decreased workplace engagement, poorly motivated employees, and increased turnover - all of which conspire to cost companies billions of dollars per year.

Today, we look for ways in which we can respond to this new paradigm. Ways which create forums for fostering both individual and company level feedback.

“Traditional performance reviews are pretty much useless as a form of providing feedback on the path to progress.  That’s true for at least two reasons. First, they’re too formal and rigid. Second, they occur too infrequently,” Says Dan Pink, famous author and leading business thinker.

1. Mentoring: Personal and informal feedback

Mentoring is a feedback haven for employees. It enables employees to speak candidly and honestly with a non-biased and objective observer, a feat which isn’t always possible via other feedback forums, whilst also allowing employees to speak about their lives and ambitions outside of work - an overlooked aspect of workplace feedback. I asked Dan Pink for his opinion on how mentoring can help fill the feedback abyss, “Mentoring is something closer to a constant conversation. The mentor can establish a relationship less bound by formality. And the mentor can establish a feedback metabolism that is far quicker - and therefore far more useful to the person being mentored.”

2. The one-on-one: Personal and performance related feedback

While simple enough, one-on-one’s are often poorly conducted - or not conducted at all. Amongst the feedback channels, the one-on-one is the most performance oriented. Employees care a lot about their progress and their job security, which means they want to know how they are doing as frequently as possible. First and most importantly, one-on-ones must become a priority for managers. And second, The conversation must be a two-way street: manager must be present, aware, and willing to listen, while the employee must be encouraged and incentivised to bring their honest opinions and concerns to the table.

3. Employee resource groups: Personal and company related feedback

Employee resource groups (ERG’s) are becoming more popular amongst all organisations as a tool for creating productive and supportive company microcosms. ERG’s provide participating employees with a forum and safe place for feedback, coordination, and the discussion of shared goals. While ERG’s are voluntary and employee led, companies can do a lot of the groundwork in helping create an environment conducive to encouraging the development and growth of ERG’s. ERG’s can also begin a tenure long feedback loop from the very beginning of an employee's time at the company, with all of the DiversityInc Top 50 companies using their resource groups as a tool to recruit new members.

4. Culture teams: Company related feedback

Culture teams are an extremely effective channel for creating a feedback oriented and inclusive company culture. Culture teams, made up of a number of employees from different divisions and disciplines, work together to come up with ideas, events, and channels for creating a better workplace. Ideation amongst the culture team, as well as the feedback and suggestions this team seeks out from others within the organisation, enable all employees to voice their wishes - and their frustrations - as well as providing them with a forum for making tangible changes to the workplace. A workplace they very likely care about.

5. Team outings/All-hands: Company related feedback which affects everyone personally

While individuals are greatly concerned with personal feedback, they are also far more concerned with the state of their company than many executives realise. Team outings and all-hands meetings create an extremely efficient and inclusive channel for company progress ‘reports’ and general feedback. How is the company doing? What is our strategy? How has our vision changed? Is my job redundant? Team outings are the perfect time for the executive team to sit down or stand-up in front of their people and provide insights into the state of the company. The more transparent, the better.

What do all of these feedback forums have in common?  

Unsurprisingly, they provide a frequent and always-there forum for allowing people to provide and receive feedback. They make employees feel cared about and important, a feeling which we all crave - with 78% of workers saying that being recognised motivates them in their job.

Implementing one, two or all five of these feedback forums or initiatives isn’t a lot of work. Nor do they require a lot of maintenance. Once started, all of these forums are self-managing and self-perpetuating, with the only real requisite being that employers, mid, and high-level managers don’t get angered or frustrated by their employees spending time giving and receiving feedback.

This isn’t too much to ask. 

This is the cost of employing human beings - your most valuable asset.

A cost which has the greatest ROI of any investment a company can make.

A cost which will keep on raising if you don’t start paying it today.

Lance works for Mentorloop, the mentoring software platform that enables organisations to address problems like the feedback abyss through a bottom-up, people-driven approach to feedback, learning, and development.

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