Why feedback is important and how to use it correctly
In general, the term “feedback” refers to a useful evaluation of someone else’s work or behaviour with the objective of changing or improving their way of working in the future. It generally takes place at all levels of the corporate environment. While “customer feedback” refers to a customer’s assessment of a service or product provided by the company, “feedback on employee performance” refers to the evaluation of employees by their managers.
There are many ways in which feedback can promote the development of an engaged and committed corporate community. Aside from the importance of feedback itself, there are effective ways of giving feedback to achieve the best results.
Why should you care about feedback?
The key to continuous improvement
Effective feedback, both positive and negative, is useful. The best performing companies are so successful because continuous improvement goes beyond making a greater impact on their environment. Feedback facilitates learning, promotes personal growth, leads to more diverse opinion forming and better decisions. Ultimately, it leads to demonstrably better performance from people and the company as a whole.
In addition, the best performing companies don’t just receive feedback passively, they also actively seek it. They understand that criticism is most effective if it also brings weak points to light.
A tool for self-reflection
As well as improving overall performance, feedback is a crucial tool for self-reflection. The human psyche unconsciously employs double standards. People condemn certain patterns of behaviour in others without recognising the same faults in themselves. This may be because we literally don’t see our facial expressions when we communicate or hear our own voices when we speak to others. The brain can’t evaluate the aspects of someone’s behaviour that it doesn’t recognise. As such, feedback acts as a mirror for the recipient.
How can you create effective feedback cultures?
The role of CEOs
We are now all aware that feedback is an integral part of a successful corporate environment. But who should initiate it? As with many other aspects of the performance of companies, the stimulus required to create a feedback culture must come from the top. The CEO decides the tempo and is responsible for the final decisions at the company, which is why they must also take responsibility for nurturing a thriving community. This demands that directors take feedback seriously, actively request it and understand the inequality that arises as a result of the unequal power relationship between them and their employees.
Receiving constructive feedback
No one likes receiving criticism. Research has shown that an unexpected and critical comment has the same effect as being physically assaulted. Imagine yourself in the following situation: You have given up many hours of your time, you have put your heart and soul into making a product, training programme or a quarterly summary, but it still “isn’t good enough”. No one likes being told their work isn’t as good as they thought.
This can cause the recipient to become upset and demotivated. This means managers must take responsibility for creating a safe space for giving and receiving constructive comments or feedback. In a safe environment, employees have “psychological freedom”: everyone is free to give feedback.
The door is always open! And what do we do with that feedback?
Creating a feedback culture doesn’t stop when the CEO opens their door. This is just the first step. Feedback demands active listening, attention and a change of culture, which requires the top of the organisation to take the initiative.
The benefits of creating a fertile ground for positive and constructive feedback are endless. It can improve an organisation’s performance by facilitating continuous learning from previous mistakes, as well as highlighting the blind spots in employees’ perceptions of themselves. One thing is certain: the initiative for the creation of a safe environment for giving and receiving feedback must come from the top managers.
Make it your mission to foster a working culture in which leaders prioritise giving and requesting feedback. Regularly asking for feedback is an effective way of improving employee commitment and an opportunity to learn from one another.
Contact Krista Beilschmidt for more information about how you can improve your feedback culture.
Call: +31 70 346 92 05 or +31 6 41 27 30 20
Send an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.