Want Feedback to Really Work? Start Giving It a Lot More Frequently

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Last year, Globoforce CEO Eric Mosley launched his book Crowdsourced Performance Review. The primary thrust of the book is the annual performance review is broken, but it does serve a valuable purpose.

The opportunity lies in fixing the broken elements, which are largely centered around feedback coming from one person given on a very infrequent basis. The fix is adding informal frequent, timely, detailed positive recognition feedback from peers, colleagues and managers – “the crowd” – to the formal, annual performance appraisal process.

Because of this approach, I’m often asked, “So, do you collect constructive feedback as part of the employee recognition program, too?”

Fielding feedback takes practice

The answer is “no” because the point of social recognition is creating a positivity dominated workplace, which becomes much more difficult when the recognition experience becomes clouded with negative feedback, too.

However, that doesn’t mean negative or constructive feedback isn’t critical to employee performance, productivity and success. But giving constructive feedback isn’t particularly helpful if the employee receiving the feedback isn’t processing the feedback for various reasons.

Check out this Wall Street Journal article on why feedback is often ignored and how to help recipients accept the feedback better. As the article points out:

Many employees don’t get much practice fielding negative feedback, managers say. It is out of vogue, for one thing: Some 94 percent of human-resources managers favor positive feedback, saying it has a bigger impact on employees’ performance than criticism, according to a 2013 survey of 803 employers by the Society for Human Resource Management and Globoforce. Performance reviews are infrequent, with 77 percent of employers conducting them only once a year.”

Frequent feedback yields less defensiveness

Don’t forget the research showing it takes five positive messages of recognition and reinforcement to mentally balance one piece of constructive feedback. And that’s why creating habit of feedback is critical.

The WSJ article also pointed out:

Employees tend to become less defensive if they receive frequent feedback, says Catalina Andrade, training and benefits manager at Tris3ct, a Chicago marketing agency. Tris3ct trains managers to give frequent, direct feedback and to show empathy while doing so.”

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The fact of the matter remains, when we know our work has value and the good we do is also noticed and appreciated, then it’s easier to hear the course corrections we all need to stay on track.

Does your organization offer a balance of positive and constructive feedback? What’s the most useful feedback you’ve received?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.