Every new business has multiple development tasks and objectives. In addition to all the KPIs, GMVs and other numerical metrics, business founders must remember the nonnumerical components: namely, the level of satisfaction and empathy and the proper feedback mechanism.
This article will analyze feedback as a critical element of productive work. Starting with the general considerations (why do we need someone else’s comments on our work), we’ll move to feedback types and their influence. Next, we will analyze the potential drawbacks of praise and punishment in work efficiency. Closer to the end, we will pay some attention to the possible feedback structure: what can it look like to be both efficient and inoffensive?
Why do we need feedback?
Feedback plays an essential role in the working process. Each step of the process is connected with others; thus, results achieved on each stage can help or hurt the whole workflow. With a transparent feedback system, the information about the (un)desired outcomes is freely available and can serve as the basis for personal planning. Without such a system, all work activities would be somewhat random: People do whatever they want (or whatever their evaluation system deems “good” or “useful”). Extending the topic, let’s name a few general reasons why feedback is helpful and needed for performance and growth.
No doubt, feedback enhances the overall working transparency. Without it, employees don’t have any clues about the evaluation of their tasks (and, subsequently, about the whole mechanism they’re part of). Did it go well? Shall they proceed, or is it better to alter something? Can their attitude harm the company? Too many questions, no answers. Tension grows, the nervous system wears down, productivity falls. In addition to this, feedback-driven transparency helps employees understand the mechanics of promotion (curbing anxiety and stimulating optimal behavioral strategies). Undoubtedly, all this boosts the overall performance of the company.
The reasons for happiness at work are too diverse and individual to list them all. Nevertheless, some of them are undoubtedly tied to proper feedback. Getting the appropriate comments about your work enhances confidence (leading to happiness). Not only do you know what you are expected to do, but you also get the evaluation of possible and actual digressions. The line between violation and innovation is sometimes too thin to get it right without feedback.
Efficiency depends on properly maintained processes and is tightly bound with transparency. If everyone knows their field of responsibility and the immediate repercussions of their working strategies, work becomes more efficient. Feedback is the most appropriate way to transfer this kind of information. If the feedback is regular, it is even more helpful since it refers to particular fragments of the working process (easier to correct and improve).
Many people — many feedbacks. First, let’s mention the core types grounded on the most straightforward psychological mechanism of penalty/award balance. They can be divided into two main groups — verbal and nonverbal. Criticizing and praising are verbal techniques; financial penalties and bonuses are nonverbal.
Why is this most straightforward kind less effective for growth stimulation?
First, one should remember that happiness (due to money or praise) doesn’t necessarily boost productivity, whereas the reverse connection between productivity growth and satisfaction is always valid. Moreover, punishment as a growth stimulus is also flawed since it frequently causes silencing of the problems.
The most effective kind of work feedback should be oriented toward the desired changes (leading to productivity growth) or highlighting the patterns that are already in place, fulfilling their growth-boosting function.
One of the efficient feedback models deals with situation analysis. Let’s analyze it more profoundly.
Possible feedback structure
One of the possible feedback patterns has four major structural elements. What are they?
Asking if the timing is appropriate
If the person is somehow distracted, all you have to do before expressing your feedback is wait until they are ready to listen. Unless they are prepared to actively accept the information about possible improvements actively, your words will miss their mark. So, asking for a convenient time for feedback makes people realize their schedule is essential for the company — and potentially makes them think of corporate growth goals and timing.
Highlighting the undesired behavior
Describe the unwelcome patterns in detail. To change, your employees should precisely know what is frowned upon.
Asking for improvement + highlighting its consequences
Ask your employees to alter their behavior + describe what will change afterward. Such a scheme enhances the feeling of agency (one person’s behavior is crucial for the whole team).
Don’t forget to thank your employees for their time. Even if the person you’re talking to won’t change after the first feedback session, they won’t be reluctant to get the second one if you are polite.
Business growth depends on multiple factors and circumstances. The proper feedback system would undoubtedly be one of the first listed. Before collecting the GMV or composing the KPIs, remember the principle “people first” — it is valid for every kind of business.