Probably the most common issue I see in my work as HR Consultant is people who complain about not knowing how they are getting on at work. These are people who work in otherwise busy environments but who seem to feel they are working in a vacuum due to a lack of feedback on how they are going and what they need to do to stay effective within their organisation.
Feedback is critical to the success of an organisation because it enables staff to understand how they are performing in their roles as well as having an appreciation of what kinds of developmental work they can undertake to ensure their performance meets and exceeds expectations. It also provides staff with an opportunity to connect with their team leaders, go through any concerns they may have and receive support in a range of different areas.
Large organisations go to great lengths to ensure that they have a formal performance appraisal system in place to ensure staff are developed and that meetings are held to plan and implement development activities. In my experience this activity often happens once a year, in some cases twice a year and in rare cases quarterly. Below this formal level of feedback however is the day to day and (hopefully) ongoing contact staff get with their immediate team leaders. I use the word hopefully, because not everyone gets this kind of feedback in an ongoing fashion. This is an issue as such ongoing, informal feedback is critical if people are to be nurtured and supported properly in their jobs.
Most people in the workforce today expect to know how they are going on a regular basis and this is particularly true of what we call Generation Y or the Millennials. This is a generation which is familiar with instant and regular contact with friends and peers via Social Media. They like to know how they are going at anything and everything and the organisations in which they work ignore this at their own peril.
A good workplace encourages a proactive feedback culture where staff not only expect regular feedback from their management and peers, but actually encourage it. Nurturing this culture is a great start, but we also need Managers who are able to give feedback in a constructive manner. In my next article I will look at how we can use feedback effectively as part of leading and developing people.