The Importance of Feedback to Improve Performance- Part 1
Many people might think of the word feedback as a negative thing, but feedback can and should be both positive and constructive. Every conversation, email and discussion we have with anyone at work or outside of work will contain feedback and it is valuable in helping individuals to grow and develop.
Feedback should always be given from a place of wishing the receiver to learn, develop and be brilliant. Yes it is the strapline of Jarrold Training, but essentially it is true for feedback as well. It should be given from a place of helping the other person to grow and as such should never feel like a difficult thing to do. It should always be to drive performance.
Feedback is Motivating
Constructive feedback motivates people and organisations to make changes and improvements which ultimately results in higher performance and better results. Positive feedback helps people to feel that their contributions and good work have been recognised and this gives them the drive to continue not only doing what they are doing but working hard to achieve even better results which will earn them more positive feedback.
Many people have internal motivational drivers which can easily be accessed by providing feedback. At Jarrold Training we like Francis’ 9 Career Drivers as a tool to discover what your internal driver preferences might be at different stages of your career. As such, if you have an individual in your team who is driven by, say The Search for Meaning, then feedback can be provided in a way which illustrates how the receiver can achieve that. Even if your key driver and motivation is to progress your career and earn more money, then feedback may show you areas to improve or develop which could ultimately result in a promotion or pay rise. If you had never received the constructive feedback to help you develop, then you cannot develop to reach your desired position or salary.
Feedback Drives Performance
Feedback is essential in helping organisations to push forward in performance and gain the edge over their competitors. If an organisation is made up of a long-serving workforce who are all focussed on simply getting the job done, then it may well be performing at a good level but it will not continue developing and may get left behind its competitors. If an employee gives feedback by making a suggestion for an improvement or new idea and this then gets implemented by the organisation it could ultimately result in that organisation developing a new product or service which may well help them gain market share over their competitors.
Say you work for an organisation that sends out lots of email communication and briefs. Proofreading of such communications leads to feedback which is essential. If a quarterly newsletter is mailed out to 50,000 customers and no one has spotted a number of spelling mistakes and typos then this could severely undermine the organisations reputation, reducing credibility and therefore potentially leading to loss of business. The ‘fear’ which might exist in not wanting to give feedback to the person who originally made the error is something which must be avoided. All organisations will have their own similar areas of operations and feedback given from a positive place to help someone to develop and improve therefore becomes essential.
Feedback Encourages Collaboration and this Generates Positive Results
A team member inviting and being receptive to feedback from their fellow team members helps to bring about a spirit of collaboration which results in higher performance. One team member working in isolation to come up with ideas or resolve a problem is unlikely to generate as many ideas or solutions as a group of three or four team members working together. One person’s slightly off-the-wall idea might not have the desired result if they run with it exactly as they imagine but add into that the views of two or three others and you are much more likely to lead to better ideas to be implemented. This very much fits in with some classically recognised feedback models like SAID or STAR/AR which weave in a coaching element to generate new ideas and ways of working.
Without Feedback there is no Drive or Need to Improve
Without feedback it can be very easy for individuals to simply continue their work at the same level with little impetus to improve or boost what they are doing. We have all experienced days where we come into work feeling tired and lacklustre, focussed on just getting things done and getting through the day so we can go home and enjoy our dinner or favourite TV programme at the end of it. Of course this is human nature and the odd day or two feeling this way is most likely going to be fine, but imagine if no one ever questioned whether your work could be improved or gave you positive feedback on an idea or service you delivered – would you still continue to strive for improvements in what you do? If an individual is always allowed to simply do the bare minimum to scrape through each day of their job then they will have little motivation to try any harder, but if a colleague or line manager encourages them to try something new or change their processes then they will be much more likely to perform highly. Feedback can give that more instantaneous externally driven boost of motivation.
Feedback can be motivating to improve the good performance that is already happening or it can be constructive criticism with the aim of driving underperformance back to reach the required standard. Feedback is essential in bringing about change and innovation, without it things just stay the same and standards drop. Feedback must be encouraged to take both teams and individuals to the next level of performance – it is about evaluating and always looking for how things can be improved. Feedback in the workplace has a sole purpose which is to drive performance – helping individuals, teams and organisations to gain the edge which keeps them ahead of their competitors.