Performance is the gift that keeps on giving. Leaders who learn the skill of giving quality performance feedback see higher productivity, fewer mistakes, and increased efficiencies.
Whether I’m teaching leadership skills to first-time managers at a sand and gravel operation in Blair, WI, facilitating a workshop on leading change at a corporate retreat for a commercial real estate firm in Minneapolis, MN, or speaking at a conference for administrative professionals in Fargo, ND, they all say the #1 challenge in the workplace today is communication.
I’ll take that a step further. What I’ve seen, what I’ve personally experienced, and what I firmly believe is the #1 problem facing organizations today is failure to provide adequate performance feedback.
When people don’t know how they’re performing they’re not as productive, they make more mistakes, they’re less efficient, morale dips, there’s more stress, more conflict, higher turnover, and decreased motivation. The list goes on and on.
These are symptoms, not the real problem. And while organizations throw money at the symptoms, the real problem continues to persist.
It’s like taking cold medicine. Yes, you get relief from the coughing, sore throat, and itchy, watery eyes but it’s only temporary.
‘Feedback is the breakfast of champions.’ – Ken Blanchard
Do you think that’s true? Most people do. Most people want to know how they can get better, how they can get to their next level. And they need their manager to guide the way.
It seems like there’s a gap between what employees want and what they’re actually getting from their manager’s. We can look to the Gallup organization for backup.
The Gallup organization is the gold standard when it comes to measuring employee engagement. Engagement means people enjoy what they do and they like coming to work.
The Gallup survey asks 12 questions. The following three questions highlight the desire employees have for receiving performance feedback:
- Does someone encourage my development?
- In the last 6 months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
- In the last year, have I been given opportunities to learn and grow?
How you would respond? And, who would you have in mind when you were responding? Most likely your direct manager.
Year after year, the percent of engaged employees hovers around 30%. The number doesn’t change much. Not for lack of trying. Organizations have spent billions of dollars trying to move the needle on employee engagement. But it doesn’t change because they’re treating the symptom instead of the problem.
Organizations see these low numbers and think we need to improve morale! We need to increase engagement! So a committee is formed and the next thing you know there’s a ping pong table in the break room, monthly potlucks, and team building exercises.
There’s nothing wrong with those things but they are no substitute for a one on one conversation with the direct manager about progress and development opportunities.
I can honestly tell you that I have never heard someone say ‘I would be so much happier if they would just put a ping pong table in the break room.’ Or, ‘This would be a great place to work if we just had monthly potlucks.’ Or, ‘I’m going to apply for a job at XYZ Company because they have the best team building events.’
Imagine how much money organizations would save if they would focus on solving the right problem.
Here’s a simple solution… use the C.O.R.E. Feedback Formula to deliver stress-free, conflict-free performance feedback.
C = conversation starter. Begin the conversation in a way that makes it clear that your intent is to be helpful.
O = observed performance. Be factual and provide specific data.
R = required performance. Refer back to the stated performance expectations for the job.
E = end the conversation. Get agreement on next steps and wrap up the conversation.
(For more tips, examples, and strategies, request a free copy of the C.O.R.E. Feedback Formula.)
If this formula is followed with the intent of helping the employee succeed, the feedback can be received as a gift. However, since you have no control over how another person will react, remember this: you are responsible for the effort, not the outcome.
If leaders were given the opportunity to learn how to give valuable feedback (the real problem), the symptoms would disappear. Productivity would skyrocket, quality would improve, efficiencies would increase, morale would go up, good people would stay, more people would want to work there, and there would be less stress and less conflict.
That sounds like a gift everyone could benefit from.
Liz Uram is a leadership trainer specializing in teaching leaders how to give quality performance feedback that is received as a gift.