Improve Performance by Providing Feedback

Employees value feedback at work, but not everyone receives it regularly. Eagle Hill Consulting offers five small steps to improve critical feedback between supervisors and employees.

While the vast majority of employees in U.S. organizations crave feedback on their job performance, most organizations don’t foster an effective feedback culture.
These are the findings from a new national survey conducted by Eagle Hill Consulting. The survey of 1,700 professionals across a range of industries and career levels was undertaken to gain a deeper understanding of how employees view feedback in relation to their performance and professional development.
The survey data reveal that 87 percent of respondents believe feedback is important to career development, and 85 percent say they feel valued when someone takes the time to provide feedback on their work. Yet only 60 percent of respondents reported that their work environment supports a culture of feedback. Only 44 percent said that they receive regular feedback on their work.
“Providing employees with real-time, actionable and constructive feedback can be one of the most effective ways to improve an organization’s overall performance,” says Melissa Jezior, president and CEO of Eagle Hill Consulting. “Waiting until the annual performance review to have conversations about strengths and areas for improvement just doesn’t cut it in the fast-paced, competitive environment organizations face today.”
Given the feedback gap, Eagle Hill Consulting proposes five small steps that organizations can take to improve the practice of employees and supervisors giving, receiving and soliciting feedback:
• Provide frequent feedback. Organizations should create formal and informal channels that facilitate frequent peer and supervisorial feedback instead of relying exclusively on annual or semi-annual performance appraisal cycles. Nearly 60 percent of survey respondents reported that they would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis, a number that increased to 72 percent for employees under age 30.
• Deliver feedback in person. The majority of employees, 78 percent, preferred to receive feedback in person. Emailing feedback or discussing it over the phone may be the only option in a time-crunch or with a geographically dispersed staff, but these should not be the go-to methods of communication.
• Recognize when changes are made as a result of feedback. It takes practice to develop a comfort level with constructively soliciting and receiving feedback. A key way to support feedback is to recognize when employees make improvements as a result of it. Of respondents who indicated that their company had a “comfortable feedback environment,” 83 percent said they are recognized when they make changes based on feedback.
• Encourage peer and “360 degree” feedback. More than 85 percent of survey respondents stated that they receive feedback primarily from their supervisors, and more than 75 percent believe that feedback is valuable. About 45 percent of respondents also value feedback from their peers and clients or customers, yet less than 30 percent said they receive it. Organizations can address this gap by fostering a supportive, comfortable workplace with appropriate systems in place that enable employees to receive additional feedback from their peers or clients.
• Offer feedback training for both supervisors and employees. Company-wide trainings help to set expectations, promote and reinforce best practices, share helpful resources and rally a workforce to take steps to change together. However, the survey showed that only about a quarter of organizations provide any feedback-related training for employees or supervisors, and less than 10 percent offered trainings on how to receive and solicit feedback. Organizations can start small with an introductory training session.
“It’s important to make a clear distinction between feedback and reviews,” says Jezior. “Feedback is about large-scale information sharing, which encompasses, but is not limited to, reviews. When information is given honestly, constructively and regularly, it results in competent and confident employees that drive organizational success.”
The findings and corresponding recommendations are detailed in a new whitepaper, Feedback on Feedback, Five Ways to Create a Constructive Feedback Culture.
Eagle Hill Consulting LLC is a woman-owned business that provides management consulting services in the areas of business strategy, organizational transformation, human capital transformation, process improvement, program management and change management.