Effective Feedback

21 components of effective feedback

Providing effective feedback is an intricate process that requires skill, practice, and graceful execution. If executed properly, effective feedback can have a major impact on the efficiency of the workplace, employee engagement, and the bottom line. It is therefore imperative that managers develop a comprehensive understanding of what constitutes effective feedback to impact employees and improve the learning process. In the end, it is essential for managers to understand that each employee comes from a unique perspective and that every work interaction comes out of this point-of-view. Providing feedback in the right way not only makes it more effective for employees but also fosters kindness and creates an environment of teachability within your company.

Better communication with employees through effective feedback leads to better employee engagement which, in turn, improves company-wide relationships with customers. According to a LinkedIn article on giving effective feedback, ”The benefits of effective feedback start with engagement. When people get good quality feedback and guidance from their leaders, they can feel more engaged with their role, valued by their leaders, and more included as part of the team. There is a wealth of data to support that feedback drives positive results. A recent global survey shows that 96% of employees say they want to hear feedback regularly.”

One of the best ways to grow employees into being emotionally engaged at your call center is through effective feedback.

What is effective feedback?

Effective feedback provides employees with valuable and corrective information to enhance their performance. It can be positive and negative feedback, focusing on specific behaviors or situations. Effective feedback contributes to continuous improvement and growth in the workplace by offering constructive guidance.

Components Effective Feedback

In order to be effective, feedback must be:

1. Specific.
Feedback must be concrete and relate to a specific, measurable performance goal. It should also include clear expectations for the employee and their performance. The employee’s progress and performance should be readily available in a clear, easy to understand format. It is a good practice to map out these performance goals proactively, before the need for giving constructive feedback even arises.

2. Timely.
Employees must receive the feedback as close to the event as possible. Employees who interact with customers over the phone should be monitored and provided immediate feedback once the call has finished. Additionally, real-time metrics that are readily available to the employee in a dashboard can be very effective as they provide immediate, helpful feedback about performance. Giving feedback soon after the event facilitates greater learning, and leads to better employee performance.

3. Appropriate.
Feedback should be presented in a positive, tactful and non-threatening manner. The employee providing feedback should remain calm and professional throughout the process. Although negative feedback is both necessary and helpful, it should be given in private. First and foremost, any feedback needs to respect and build up employees, without running the risk of causing embarrassment or shame in front of peers.

4. Focus on behavior, not personality.
Always provide feedback that is based on behavior, not the employees personality or characteristics unless absolutely necessary. Employees are more open to receiving feedback about the impact of their behavior on performance than they are about their personal characteristics. In fact, providing critical comments about an employee’s personality could cause them to feel defensive, making them unable to listen to any other feedback. Bringing up specific behavior is much more helpful feedback than focusing on personal traits. After all, employees are more able to change their behavior than they are their personality.

5. Proactive.
Don’t delay or avoid providing feedback. Identify issues and provide feedback before they become problems or have a large impact on the company. The sooner you bring up an event or particular situation, the easier it will be for your employee to process it and find a better way forward. Waiting for days or weeks to bring up a specific incident makes it difficult for your employee to comprehend what happened in that situation and how they can behave the next time a similar situation arises.

6. Given using descriptive language.
Describing how the employee’s behavior impacts performance is more useful feedback than using vague or broad language. Using descriptive language and actionable suggestions helps facilitate understanding and leads to greater learning. In addition, it will focus the discussion on behavior, rather than personal characteristics.

7. Not given using judgmental language.
Avoiding judgmental language will decrease the possibility that the employee will be defensive. Using nonjudgmental feedback also increases the likelihood that this feedback is objective and based on facts or observable behavior. By coming from a nonjudgmental stance, you can broach the subject as a conversation, rather than a lecture.

8. Based on accurate and credible information.
The feedback should be based on accurate information. Provide varied data to the employee and support statements with specific examples of observed behavior. Never use rumors as examples, and avoid citing other employees by name when referencing their observations.

9. Recurring.
Feedback should be recurring. Schedule performance reviews each month and ensure that managers informal feedback daily as an ongoing practice. Recurring feedback facilitates a better learning environment than waiting until it’s time for annual reviews. Employees, in turn, also get the opportunity to bring up concerns and thoughts at recurring check-ins. According to author Colin Baker for Leaders.com: “An employee shouldn’t feel nervous or fearful when meeting with their boss to discuss feedback. Infrequent communication prevents relationships from forming and growing.” Consequently, recurring feedback can lead to a more engaged team and happier employees.

10. Embedded in the culture.
Foster an environment of continuous feedback and professional development. In order to accomplish this, feedback must be an integral part of the job experience, encouraged among employees and supported within the company.

By turning feedback into a continuous 2-way conversation, employees will feel heard and appreciated, rather than lectured to or corrected.

Indeed explains how a culture of ongoing feedback fosters loyalty amongst employees: “Providing feedback to employees in an effective way helps them to feel supported in their roles and positions within the company. Employees who feel supported by management are less likely to seek employment elsewhere. This saves the company time and money spent on hiring and training new employees often.”

11. Focused.
Feedback should be channeled toward key result areas. Managers should choose specific areas that are most important to the company and provide feedback that only relates to performance in those areas. Feedback should also be linked to corporate or departmental goals, and touching on other topics will just dilute any feedback that really matters to your bottom line.

12. Guiding.
The information given to the employee should be used to either confirm or correct their performance. A simple, “good job” is not sufficient. Employees need confirmation that they are on the right path, or corrective explanations of how they can perform better. It must be specific and guide the employee in the most desired direction with clear, descriptive feedback.

13. Tied to an action plan.
When providing feedback, managers should also give actionable feedback to the employee. The employee should know exactly how to increase their performance and what steps they need to take to get there. It’s also the manager’s job to check in with the employee periodically and keep an open dialogue about how the action plan is going.

14. An appropriate amount.
Too much feedback will overwhelm and confuse the employee, leading to an environment of less than optimal learning. They will be less likely to remember the feedback or engage in corrective action. Too little feedback is not sufficient to elicit a change. It is also important to include an appropriate amount of positive comments, alongside any critical ones.

15. From multiple sources.
Feedback from multiple sources is more valid than single-source feedback. When only one source provides feedback repeatedly, it can cause tension, and the message can get lost after a few times. In order to internalize the feedback and elicit change, employees should receive feedback from multiple sources such as customers, co-workers (peers and subordinates), managers, upper management, and objective measures.

16. In many forms.
Graphs and charts that track individual and group performance are imperative to the feedback process in the workplace. Visual representations of performance can be helpful for employees and encourage them to either continue in a behavior or change behaviors to grow over time. Feedback should also be qualitative, such as excerpts from customer surveys, and direct, such as real-time management feedback.

17. From data.
Quantitative measures of performance such as units sold, days absent, money saved, projects completed and customers satisfied are imperative to the feedback process. This data should be presented in a meaningful way and should be used as concrete examples. Again, graphs and charts provide helpful visuals for encouraging employee growth and improvement. Constructive feedback comes from facts, rather than general sentiments of how an employee is performing.

18. Tailored to the recipient.
The individual’s characteristics, level of performance and cognitive processing style should influence the type of feedback they receive. Average and below-average performers should receive extrinsic rewards for their performance. High performers respond better to feedback that enhances their feelings of competence and personal control.

19. Easy to understand.
Beating around the bush, complicated or sugar-coated feedback may result in confusion and misdirection. It’s not delivering effective feedback but rather, convoluting what you want your employee to actually hear. Feedback should be easy to understand and the employee should repeat back the information discussed, to ensure that they comprehend the discussion.

20. Specific to the employee’s performance.
Managers should not include factors that are beyond the control of the employee in the feedback process. Before giving the feedback, they should evaluate whether or not the feedback directly relates to the employee’s performance, or if it’s an extraneous factor that does not warrant a conversation with that particular employee. Bringing up something that’s out of an employee’s control can make them feel overwhelmed and frustrated.

21. Collaborative.
Allowing the employee to contribute to the feedback process and offer solutions will help them accept the feedback more readily and self-assess why they might have caused the specific situation to happen.

According to Indeed, feedback should solicit a dialog because “Part of the challenge of performance reviews might be from the employee’s notion that this evaluation is one-sided. If you do most or all of the talking, employees may feel like you are scolding them and could respond negatively to the review. Ask employees questions and get them to talk about ways they can improve and what they like about their jobs. You could also encourage them to set their own goals for their position.”

Employees should discuss their personal problems, express their personal feelings, recognize their own performance shortcomings and discuss their job performance objectively during the feedback process.

The most effective feedback will contain many (or all) of the aforementioned components. By providing helpful, timely, and focused feedback, management will encourage employees to either continue performing well, or improve in their performance. Employees will also appreciate actionable, clear feedback, with a roadmap of follow-up steps to improve their performance in the future. Managers seeking to increase performance with effective feedback should incorporate these 21 steps into their feedback processes. In turn, good feedback can lead to significantly more engaged employees, a better-performing company, and happier customers.