"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." ― George Bernard Shaw
WHY DO WE NEED CONTINUOUS FEEDBACK?
The need for continuous feedback has been a longstanding part of the review process. However, for it to be genuinely fruitful, it should be given and received continually. If used efficiently, it provides a substantial positive impact on performance.
Feedback and coaching exercises enable managers to procure information and also contribute insights into how a particular employee is performing. It and gives a clear perspective to the employee on their performance and also provides them a platform to seek resources that may be beneficial to improve their performance.
How to prepare for giving feedback?
According to this research article before the process of providing feedback, the manager must oversee the responsibilities of the employee to understand the requirement on which to base his input. Monitoring should be a regular activity of the manager, which starts as soon as the employee has interpreted the needs and the responsibilities of the role. The expectations must be communicated to the staff member in case a thorough understanding is not reflected.
A few key metrics to base the feedback are:
- The timing of collecting performance information
- The accuracy of the information
- Collection of performance related information
- Allowing time for enough amount of work to give feedback
- Collecting data from the employee
Though the majority of the people are enthusiastic about giving positive feedback, the enthusiasm considerably fades away when one has to start an unpleasant discussion that may involve critical and constructive sharing of information. It is imperative that these communication barriers are to be overcome to aid a person’s career growth. Feedbacks can be categorized into three different types and be reduced to objective sharing of facts so as ease the discomfort.
Positive and corrective feedback
It encompasses feedback that is aimed at appreciation and course correction, where the work is deemed to be satisfactory, but there is scope for improvement.
Feedback focused on identifying obstacles to performance
It involves input that addresses limitations that prevent an employee from achieving the desired level of performance and may include every kind of constraint from personal shortcomings to circumstantial impediments.
Feedback to share information
It involves sharing of pleasant or unpleasant information regarding the process of the performance and constructive criticism on how to improve it the next time around.
“The culture the leader creates impacts the feedback a leader receives.” ― Ron Edmondson
HOW TO DETERMINE FEEDBACK OUTCOMES?
It is important to acknowledge that, feedback may either support a desirable performance or indicate a desire to improve performance. It can be given to employees either through periodic check-ins or at specified milestones of progress. Often, the feedback is provided is mostly on a needs bases and is either given by the manager or requested by an employee. Feedback is best when shared immediately after a performance, and in small bite-sized chunks of information, as opposed to a massive assault of details at the end of the performance. To increase the positive outcome from feedback, it is advised to understand the difference between:
Evaluative feedback - It is an impersonal and apathetic dissection of the performance and the work done, which reflects detachment and avoids any display of emotional quotient in the remark. Example: Your reaction to my comment is an example of your problem in making clear and accurate interpretations of information.
Descriptive feedback - It is a personal and observant remark, that associates the performer with the expectations of the evaluator and expresses genuine positivity.
Example: your reaction to my comment surprised me, I expected a different response.
It is advised for managers to be more descriptive as opposed to evaluative to enhance the outcome of the feedback and bring out results.
Key highlights of sharing positive or negative feedback:
- Recognition of performance
- Pinpointed example of a good performance
- Relevant and timely feedback that reinforces a positive note
- Asking the employee to contribute his views
- Addressing minor shortcomings whenever possible
- Ensure the input has been communicated
- Reinstate the belief in the employee's capability
- Limit feedback to the performance and not the performer
- Explaining the shortcomings and the advantage in overcoming them
- Share clear expectations of future performance
- Borrow the employee's inputs to tackle the issue
- Reiterate the consequences of an undesired performance
“There is a difference between judgment and feedback. Your critics use you as a mirror for their own hidden darkness. Your teachers hold up a mirror to yours.” ― Vironika Tugaleva
WHAT IS 360° FEEDBACK?
A 360° feedback process is merely an approach to the performance appraisal of an employee that considers input from multiple sources. These sources can be managers, colleagues, subordinates, customers or the employee themselves. The process entails the collection of a person’s behavior and the repercussions of those behaviors from multiple sources. Modern organizations have embraced this system, as it has liberated feedback from the shackles of organizational hierarchy and has provided a perfect common ground for unbiased evaluation. It has also been lauded for its uniformity across various levels in the corporate ladder as it also includes upward feedback, wherein the subordinates also evaluate the employee in a higher authority.
The process of 360° feedback
A 360° feedback process usually includes multiple stages:
Decide on the purpose of the feedback
There are two primary use cases for 360°- feedback, which is employee development and performance evaluation. It is imperative all requirements are assessed and communicated explicitly to all stakeholders involved.
Choose the data collection source
These could be simple surveys, questionnaires, or an extensive performance management solution, which serve as a single repository to source the evaluator’s comments and relevant supporting data for future reference.
Decide the factors that need to be assessed
It is suggested that the focus is on the performer’s capabilities in the workplace as opposed to general shortcomings. The assessment should take into account all work-related responsibilities and the factors that influence performance. The organization’s value and culture can also be used as a comparative standard.
Decide the feedback participants
In a growing company, it is usually everyone; however, selective or continuous feedbacks can also run across a team in a span of few weeks, where there is a personal one on one interaction is included at the end of every feedback cycle for each nominee.
Many organizations tend to fall short at this stage of the feedback, where the data is. For a continuous feedback system to succeed across the team or an organization, it is imperative that the outcomes are communicated to the nominees as well as raters to reiterate the positive results and to reduce the barriers for self-improvement within the organization.
Benefits and shortcomings of 360° feedback
360°- feedback brings many benefits to the organization supported by empirical studies. It is a proven and effective method of enhancing two-way communication within the organization. It takes into accounts the skillsets and personal dynamics of employees that bring value to organizations, which were initially overlooked in the hierarchical review model. It builds better workplace relationships, instills a positive attitude towards self-improvement within the organization, and employees develop a healthy relationship with the organization.
One of the primary hindrances towards 360° feedback is that many employees tend to feel threatened by the limelight and may induce friction within the adoption process. Cannot be established organizations with a legacy hierarchical system. The feedback may or may not always be positive, and people of higher authority within a hierarchy may push back against it. The employees also tend to face survey fatigue which may not always result in accurate and critical feedback.
Sources of 360° feedback
The potential raters of 360° feedback would be:
Managers - Usually people whom the employee reports to directly or the employee was directly involved in responsibility under that person’s watch.
Subordinates - Employees who report to the particular employee.
Self - Employee’s assessment of their performance.
Co-workers - Colleagues and collaborators who have co-owned stakes in the job responsibility.
These multiple sources of feedback evaluation give rise to more stakeholders within an employee’s evaluation apart from the manager, and this gives rise to:
- Upward feedback - Feedback given by subordinates
- Peer feedback - Feedback is provided by co-workers
- Self-feedback - The employee himself gives feedback
Benefits and Drawbacks of upward feedback
Amongst the many advantages of upward feedback, one of the principal benefits is the inclusion of subordinates in a feedback process that in-turn strengthens the quality of the input. Employees more often give their managers an outlook from a different lens, which may prove very useful to grow one’s managerial capabilities. Studies have shown that organizations with higher participation in upward feedback have a higher percentage of employees feeling valued and share a healthy view of management.
However, it also has a fair share of shortcomings which include with the drastic change in the setting and the subsequent mindset in adoption. Employees accustomed to a hierarchical model of management may suddenly feel cornered when forced to give feedback on their managers. Employees may also feel concerned about their feedback being used as leverage in their performance reviews and might settle for a safer option that promotes plausible deniability as opposed to honest feedback to improve the growth of the organization.
Benefits and Drawbacks of peer feedback
The most frequently noticed advantage of a peer feedback system is the discussion of problems involving the top-down appraisal within a team. Many employees that collaborate closely with their peers ten do observe the team dynamic and performance as a single unit. This team dynamic places them in a position of extremely suitable evaluators. Peer feedback instills a sense of collaborative culture, and fellow collaborators will also have more context towards the quality of performance as opposed to someone not dealing with similar responsibilities. Studies have shown that peer evaluated feedback has presented the highest accuracy in terms of measuring the future performance of an employee.
This approach is sometimes criticized due to the loopholes within the system. Colleagues may feel tempted to game the system by establishing a quid pro quo culture and start providing higher ratings to colleagues who have a more significant influence in providing them the same. Individuals and employees may also succumb to inflating the grades of fellow friends and acquaintances giving rise to a culture of pseudo-nepotism. There are also issues of feedback acceptance, especially in the case of negative feedbacks and may result in unprofessional backlashing or retribution mentality.
Benefits & Drawbacks of self-feedback
Self-appraisal is often associated with the possible edges regarding its use. Primarily the self-appraisals are more accurate as opposed to alternative sources of rating in certain aspects of performance. The other positive takeaway is that the employee tends to perceive a greater sense of fairness and feels satisfied within the system. It also influences the employee outlook towards the organization and is not afraid to admit mistakes while highlighting their accomplishments.
While self-appraisal provides benefits to employees, it is also criticized as being more speculative and definitive. There is a higher chance of rating error in self-evaluation due to an inflated sense of contribution. Studies also show that self-appraisal ratings are often most inflated as compared to other sources of evaluation. Employees may also try to compensate for possible negative feedback from other sources by increasing their contribution in a self-appraisal.
Radical candor has been a viral buzzword that has caught up recently. However, many misinformed managers still tend to use Radical Candor as impunity against being a mean person. Even though the term sounds like something that demands unflinching honesty, what it tries to convey and the motive behind it is entirely different.
In the official website of the book Radical Candor, a few key points are highlighted to explain what the term stands for.
Practicing Radical Candor is the art of challenging directly while you care personally.
Which to elaborate, means to highlight someone’s shortcoming honestly while displaying empathy, understanding, and kindness. This candor, however, is achieved by the way one actively provide feedbacks and realizing where they deviate from Radical Candor. To make this simpler the book also introduces us to four types of feedback which constitute of:
Obnoxious Aggression - Here the manager challenges the subordinate, but they don’t feel cared for and may get hurt or offended.
Ruinous Empathy - Here the manager cares for the subordinate, but does not challenge them, which may ultimately lead to unsatisfactory performance.
Manipulative Insincerity - Here the messaging is crafted with the intent of plausible deniability, and hence becomes unclear without any takeaway, which does not help either party in any way.
“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” ― Marilyn vos Savant
HOW TO RECEIVE FEEDBACK WELL?
One of the toughest exercises in receiving feedback is opening our perception to our blind spots. Mainly because it feels instinctive to believe that we DO NOT have a blind spot, but such blind spots are also instinctively evident when we are in the position of critiquing another performer. This ambiguity in blindspot is very much the nature of blind spots, and they are very elusive, just because when we fail to acknowledge something, it means we lack the expertise to recognize the absence of virtue, as opposed to the presence of a flaw. The easiest way to overcome blind spots is to keep an open mind and pay heed feedback that comes from a different sense of perception.
Since we most often than not, have no control over the people who give us feedback, and all of us unfortunate enough to be born as humans come pre-packaged with a plethora of flaws. Like it is human to err, it is also human to get “triggered,” and it helps in identifying the source of these triggers to counter where they affect us.
Truth trigger - This is profoundly perturbing to us because we fail to acknowledge the core message of the feedback as true. In our desperate need to hide the retaliation, we cannot help but feel wronged and accused.
Relationship trigger - This trigger is more to do with the relationship shared with the person giving the feedback by the receiver. Though we try to compartmentalize our emotional quotient and try to handle it with our prefrontal cortex, we subconsciously associate input with the source from which we get them. A person who continually gives negative feedback may come across as extremely nitpicky even if their efforts are aimed at genuinely helping us.
Identity trigger - This trigger is caused when a person giving the feedback fails to take into account a part of your own identity. This kind of feedback feels instantaneously repulsive as we deem the person as an incapable evaluator or a biased judge of our actions, and may feel better to neglect their input altogether.
Receiving feedback well does not imply the necessity to take input always. It is about involving in a feedback related conversation out of one’s own volition and making well thought out choices on how to utilize the information provided from to us. It also entails managing emotions and uses the knowledge to open our self-perception. Taking feedback well empowers the person giving the feedback, helps us feel more confident and secure in our ability to analyze an issue and seek a solution as opposed to getting emotionally perturbed. The art of receiving feedback also includes knowing when to say no and recognizing toxicity which may not nurture your professional growth.
Giving and receiving feedback constitutes a tiny part of performance management and helping your employees reach their full potential. However, a well implemented continuous feedback system may help you reap benefits in the long run!