Back to Basics: “Feedback”

From the day we are born, we are receiving feedback.  We learn that for every action there is a reaction, even before we learn to read Einstein’s theory.  We learn that if we cry, a person will come and feed us, or change our diaper, or just hold us.  Everything in the world and beyond gives us feedback.  The feedback from the turning of a door knob is that the door will open, this feedback is immediate, you can see it happen, you then know, the next time you turn a door knob, the door should open.

Humans need feedback to grow, to improve and to feel like they are making a difference.  Without appropriate feedback, we stagnate; we continue through our lives without purpose, without direction, without passion and without a plan.

In business as in life we also need feedback.  An employee needs to know if their actions are contributing to the success of the team and company.  Managers need to know if the plan they developed is working, or do they need to modify it.  The VPs need to know that their managers have the tools they need to be successful in their projects.  The president of the company needs to know if the people working for him are productive and working toward his vision and the good of the company.

Without the appropriate feedback, an individual, a team, a division or a company cannot grow.  There are many ways to provide feedback.  One way is through visual cues, we do this every day with our usual contact with people. A person’s facial expressions or body movement can tell us a lot.  We can tell when a person is nervous, hurting, bored or attentive.  Our facial expressions can tell if we agree or disagree with another person.

Another way of providing feedback is through verbal communication – we do this by talking to other people, expressing our satisfaction or dissatisfaction, verbalizing our needs and wants, providing an individual with positive evaluations or corrective criticism. This is the quickest way to provide instant feedback.

Counseling’s and annual appraisals are thought of when we think about written feedback.  There are other forms of written feedback: reports- reports provide the manager with results from their policies or processes, it allows the manager to assess the outcome of their decisions and make any corrections if needed, without the direct intervention of their supervisor.

The importance of counseling and evaluations:

Most supervisors view annual appraisals as that piece of paper they need to turn in to Human Resources every year.  Most employees see the annual appraisal as that piece of paper that their supervisor needs to turn in so they can get their annual raise.  Human Resources may see the annual appraisal as just another required form in the employees personnel file.

This train of thought takes away the value of appraisals, evaluations and counseling as a whole.  Supervisors tend to spend more time drinking a cup of coffee than writing an employee appraisal.  Appraisals have taken the tone as an added burden, rather than an important tool to the success of a company.  When supervisors don’t take the time to write an accurate, truthful employee appraisal, it sends an unspoken and sometimes erroneous message to the employee that their hard work and commitment to the company is unappreciated.  This will bring down the moral and productivity of employees.

A good appraisal benefits the employee, because it provides the employee with feedback on how they are performing their duties based on the expectations of their employer.  It provides guidance on how to improve their performance and it gives direction on the way forward to meet the company’s goals and vision.

A good appraisal benefits the supervisor.  It allows the supervisor to keep the productive employees, help improve the productivity of those employees needing guidance, and help weed out the non-productive employees allowing the team or division to meet the company goals and vision.

A good appraisal benefits the company, by retaining personnel that help the company to grow and meets its goals.

Annual appraisals need to be complete, accurate and concise:

An annual appraisal with numbers marked off, but no comments does nothing to help the employee, the supervisor or the company.  It doesn’t tell the employee how they are meeting their supervisor’s expectations, it doesn’t provide guidance and it doesn’t provide feedback.  To some employees it could give the impression that their efforts do not matter to the management, therefore no effort is required, leaving the company with a nonproductive employee.

Once we go back to the basics of counseling, mentorship and true employee evaluation, we develop an atmosphere of trust, respect and productivity, fostering growth in our employees and company.  The company will flourish with employees that seek opportunities to contribute to the success of the team, division and company.

Feedback, we all need it to grow and to become better than what we are.

What do you think?

Jorge Luis Guzman

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