Section 3: Improving performance
For performance purposes there should be regular, face-to-face meetings where structured feedback is given. Feedback needs to be constructive so that employees are able to improve and develop their performance. It involves praising strengths and achievements and identifying areas for improvement with an emphasis on suggestions for dealing with the matter.
Properly done it makes employees feel both valued and clear about what is expected of them in their work.
Giving feedback case study
I went to my new job with high hopes and enthusiasm. I'd done really well in my last job and had no doubt I could rise to the challenge of the new post. Two months later I left, disillusioned and disappointed.
It wasn't the heavy workload - I could manage that. It was the fact that the boss didn't care. I might just as well have been invisible, he didn't talk to me, tell me what I was doing well or what was not up to standard. I couldn't cope with that! My old boss always gave me lots of feedback. He set high standards but the praise, and the guidance on what needed to improve, helped me along so much. I just didn't realise how much I needed it until it wasn't there.
Feedback gives information to individuals on performance against agreed targets and standards. It needs to be:
Relevant: it relates to the work situation or the skills required.
Right: it has been carefully thought out, is logical and factual, and is supported by evidence.
Rapid: it relates to current work.
Feedback also needs to be regular, constructive and consistent if it is to have maximum effect.
Giving feedback case study
There are no absolute right/wrong answers. These pieces of feedback are all deficient in one way or another.
Item one is insufficiently relevant as the standard against which complaints are measured is not mentioned. The 10% fall could be good or bad - it needs further work-based information to make it relevant for the recipient. Also, it is not rapid; it is already too late to do anything about last month!
The second item can be assumed to be 'right' - though it would be more relevant if the margin by which the deadline was missed was stated; was it a day, a week or a month? As there is no indication of when the deadline was missed, it is not possible to tell whether this feedback was rapid.
The third item is good in that it is giving praise and recognition immediately- but it perhaps falls short on being relevant. What was it about the job that was good? Only by telling the person what it was, specifically, that was good, can they work at repeating the good aspects of their piece of work. This comment was insufficiently grounded in the work itself.
Feedback can be formal or informal; it can be given in regular team meetings or on an individual basis. It should be given at a time when it will be taken notice of and understood. Private feedback may be necessary to maintain confidentiality or save embarrassment. Feedback is not one-way; you will rarely have all the necessary information you need without discussing matters with staff.