Did January come and go without you giving your employees feedback?

We’re a month into 2016 already. For most people that I’m talking with, the year has started as a busy one.

As a manager have you been too busy to discuss actionable feedback with your team members?

As a team member have you been too busy to thank and praise your co-workers for their great work and support?

If busy has cost you those opportunities then busy is definitely not your friend.

A month is too long to go without giving and getting feedback.

As many as 66% of workers prefer feedback at least monthly. Fail to meet that expectation and the cost to you and your business is disengagement.

One surefire way to change the priority that giving and getting feedback has in your workload is to schedule in the necessary activities for it.

Anyone in any role can do this, so don’t fall into the trap that it is someone else’s job to do it. Take ownership of your own feedback especially if you’re in an organisation where giving regular feedback is an unnatural act.

There are three types of activity you should build in to your monthly feedback schedule.

1. Manager conversation

Of course, in an ideal world feedback between a manager and team should be happening all of the time in the normal flow of getting work done, however, in reality there are many reasons why this does not happen.

We’re not talking here about a pat on the back, or a “Good job!” thrown around every now and again.

What we mean by manager feedback is firstly holding a shared understanding of what makes you tick as an individual and then orienting your work assignments, learning and development, recognition and reward, and progression towards that in an ongoing dialogue.

Some businesses and managers are struggling to transition the role of manager from boss to coach, so if necessary, employees may need to initiate the conversation and set the calendar request.

Regardless of who initiates it, employees and managers should be having a conversation (or check-in if you want to be trendy) that’s all about the employee at least monthly.

2. Peer recognition

Are you grateful for the support of your co-workers, and if so, are you in the habit of telling them so?

Importantly are you specific about the impacts (good and bad) that your colleagues have on you?

Chances are that you think about this more often than you act upon it.

Your co-workers can’t read those thoughts, and contrary to what you may think, they won’t instinctively know how much you appreciate them unless you tell them so.

Why not take a lesson from social media and use Friday to reflect and give feedback to people who have helped you that week in your own private version of  #feedbackfriday?

That’s at least four days a month where someone will be getting feedback that helps with their performance thanks to you.

Oh, and by the way, when you give feedback, it makes you feel good and increases the likelihood of you receiving feedback too!

3. Specific feedback requests 

In any given month there will be occasions where you would welcome feedback from a specific person or group and with a particular focus.

This may relate to milestones in projects, major deliverables, completion of a training program, use of a fresh skill or (and this is a big one) simply staying connected with someone you trust so as to keep the feedback channel open.

Research shows that top performers are also at the top of the charts in asking for feedback.

It’s a fact that we have a different disposition to the feedback that we ask for versus any unsolicited feedback we receive.

By definition, it’s already passed the relevancy test, since we chose who to give it, it has passed the credibility test, and since we felt the need to ask for it, it is more likely to match an area of our own concern and to lead to actual positive change.

Keep track of your feedback requests so that you are not over-demanding of any one person and also so that you can give a gentle nudge if you’re not getting a timely response.

By scheduling feedback activities such as those above, you can ensure that the rest of the year is productive and meaningful.

Besides taking ownership of your own development, you will also maximise your contribution to the development of others and enjoy a greater sense of wellbeing.

A wealth of research proves these benefits of giving and receiving feedback. All you have to do now is make time for it.

This article was first published on LinkedIn

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