How to Use Feedback to Improve Performance
Remember playing “Marco Polo” in the pool as a kid? You were paddling aimlessly in the dark until you heard your buddy call out “Marco- Polo” to orient you to the direction you should swim to tag your friend. Without feedback, you’re swimming blind. At best, you’ll accidentally reach your goal. At worst, you’ll wander aimlessly through the dark, never hitting your target.
Providing effective feedback to employees based on progress towards their goals is the most effective approach to improving employee performance. People need to know in a timely manner how they’re doing, what’s working, and what’s not. According to the government Office of Personnel Management Effective feedback requires the following elements:
Feedback works best when it relates to a specific goal. Establishing employee performance expectations and goals before work begins is the key to providing tangible, objective, and powerful feedback. Telling employees that they are doing well because they exceeded their goal by 10% is more effective than simply saying “you’re doing a good job.”
Employees should receive information about how they’re doing as timely as possible. If improvement needs to be made in their performance, the sooner they find out about it the sooner they can correct the problem. If employees have reached or exceeded a goal, the sooner they receive positive feedback, the more rewarding it is to them.
Feedback should be given in a manner that will best help improve performance. Since people respond better to information presented in a positive way, feedback should be expressed in a positive manner. This is not to say that information should be sugar-coated. It must be accurate, factual, and complete. When presented, however, feedback is more effective when it reinforces what the employee did right and then identifies what needs to be done in the future. Constant criticism eventually will fall upon deaf ears. (Excerpt from- https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/performance-management/performance-management-cycle/monitoring/feedback-is-critical-to-improving-performance/)
Consistency- If we provide feedback on week 1 to the employee regarding an area that needs improvement, and the improvement doesn’t change, yet we say nothing in response to the shortcoming in week 2, you may as well have told the employee that the goal you are working towards is no longer relevant. We need to be consistent in the message to drive the point home. Your consistent feedback provides predictability which believe it or not alleviates stress for your employees. The consistent message shows that you are a reliable, trusted, and dependable leader that can be counted on to shine the light on the key priorities and are best positioned to help them succeed.