Leadership, Talent Management

The Power of Frequent Feedback: It’s a Key to Driving Better Productivity

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“Listen, I want you to take the lead in LA on the next project. You are doing an amazing job and deserve it. You continue to impress me. Keep up the great work!”

If you got this note from your boss, would you be pumped?

Well, the recipient of that note was. She shared that with me and was very excited. A written note sharing some feedback — how powerful is that?

What’s a cheap, fast, and easy way to stoke employee productivity and interest? Just tell them how they’re doing and provide some feedback. It took just a few seconds to send that note over, but the employee’s ROI was through the roof.

What is this thing called leadership?

This executive who took the time to send the note showed what true leadership is about.

No classes needed. No books to read. No off-sites needed. If she treats her team this way, they will walk through walls for her.

The recipient of the note was so proud of her work. When I remarked about the type manager that she had, she said, “Oh, she sends them to me all the time when I do a great job on a project.” When there is a concern, she also sends a note.

If you go to Amazon Books and search on the word “leadership,” you will get approximately 100,000 results. They all boast giving you the skills needed to motivate you, your team, and your company.

However, there are some basics that you have to know and that is dealing with and motivating people. If you have to read a book to get a sense of how to get that right, you may just have a little problem.

It is about the people

In the end, it is all about the people. We all want to be treated with respect, and for the most part, we want to succeed. How do you help your people do that? University of Michigan Professor and HR author Dave Ulrich said in an interview that HR’s role within the organization is to help the company succeed.

Yes, a manager’s role is to help their team succeed. And that my friend is done one peep at a time.

You need to help them to be successful. Coach them when they are struggling and mentor them when they need it. It is your job to get them on board and keep them on board.

A coach’s role is to increase performance, whether that is on a field or in an office. If you are leading a team, your role is to bring out the best in your people. Great coaches look to increase performance any way they can, and some of the best coaches in our world have proven over time when they have.

There probably is no one single attribute that all excellent coaches possess. Great coaches can be comprised of many stripes, but they all connect with their charges, they all know how to make changes with them, and they all know how to get results.

Bottom line: they get the work done through their people. More importantly, they care about the people across from them. That is why feedback is so important.

Feedback is an essential element

Feedback is an essential element for everyone in an organization’s workforce. Giving feedback is a task you perform again and again as a manager. It’s about letting people know where they are and where to go next in terms of expectations and goals — yours, theirs, and the organization’s.

This CAN’T wait until some performance review. It has to be done on a consistent basis. Would the coach wait until mid-season or season’s end to have a one-on-one with a player? I think not.

Your objective in giving feedback is to provide guidance by giving information in a timely manner, either to support effective behavior or to guide someone back on track toward successful performance.

There are two approaches that I love in this situation.

Feedback should be given as soon after an event as possible. Otherwise, the input isn’t memorable and may not come across as sincere.

If someone was very helpful, creative, or insightful at a meeting, say so before you leave the room. Tomorrow or the next day or week may not matter. Whether it is in an email, handwritten note, or one-on-one, it does not matter. The important thing to remember is give it up as soon as possible.

You gotta make it frequent

Always look for feedback moments. Don’t wait until performance review time to bring it up. Don’t wait for annual or quarterly appraisals.

On a regular basis, start thinking about the key people you work with. Be more observant, and when you notice, let them know. Become known as the type of manager who develops people, because that is always the sign of a great manager.

And I’ll say it again: the type of communication does not matter, as long as it comes frequently and is sincere.

Without feedback, we are all left wondering. We want to know how we are doing, otherwise, we feel invisible and insignificant. We may feel that our hard work is being taken for granted. We may also feel that we are doing OK when we are not.

Feedback builds and reinforces the connection between you and your direct reports. Without it, you might as well wait for performance review time, tell them once a year, and see where that gets you.

That is, if they are still around to hear it.

Ron Thomas is CEO of Great Place to Work-GCC countries, based in Dubai. He formerly was Chief HR Officer of the RGTS Group in Saudi Arabia. Ron is also a senior faculty member of the Human Capital Institute. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as a Master Human Capital Strategist (MHCS) and Strategic Workforce Planner (SWP). Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living. Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia. Contact him at ronaldtthomas@gmail.com or on Twitter.
  • Rory Trotter

    Ron, no one champions the frequent feedback path like I do. Thanks for sharing this, and I 100 % agree.

  • JR

    Feedback on a regular basis is critical ,good or bad to help employees develop and exceed in our work enviroment .

  • neeraj pathak

    A timely feedback, good or bad explained well will always bring in productivity. I agree with your views.