In today’s team-based, fast-paced work environments, the ability to communicate effectively over several channels and provide ongoing feedback is key to success. Feedback makes you aware of how you are doing and what you can do to develop and improve. It builds trust in your relationships.
The topic of feedback is hot in today’s marketplace. Employees are eager to know what is expected of them, how they are doing, and what they need to do to receive greater responsibilities and rewards. Employers are also eager to implement feedback tools and systems so that they can determine how they are doing in the eyes of their customers and employees. Best-of-class organizations also use feedback to help identify areas of success and developmental opportunities for their upcoming leaders. Here are five reasons why:
- Feedback builds trust with others both professionally and personally. Seeking feedback from others shows that you value input and are secure enough to hear how you can be more effective. Consider how this works: You solicit input either through a formal evaluation process or in a casual setting such as a meal. Once your strengths and growth areas have been identified, you let key people know that you want their help to improve in the growth areas and encouragement to do more of what you do well.
- Feedback facilitates personal growth and prompts change. Remember the story of the emperor who wore no clothes? No one wanted to make him feel bad by telling him an embarrassing truth that was obvious to all. The result was that the emperor never became aware of his blind spot—his unawareness of his inappropriate nudity—while those in his kingdom lost respect for him. We all have blind spots.Feedback from those who work closely with us will help us discover what they are. Most of us want to do more of the things that encourage others and less of the things that hinder our effectiveness with others. One man received personal 360-degree feedback for the first time at an FMI Leadership Institute. More than a dozen people confirmed that this man treated subordinates as having little or no value. As the message sank in, he began to reflect on a personal history of pain and relational emptiness. For him, it was an “aha” experience that eventually led to changing how he approached others.
- Feedback is useful in determining future action plans. Constructive feedback helps us find out what others value most about our contributions. We are tempted to throw our energies into overcoming personal shortfalls. Although we do need to work on these areas, especially if they are interpersonal communication weaknesses, there is generally a greater payoff in developing our areas of strength, and it is usually easier to leverage a strength than to improve a weakness. After all, these strengths are why we were hired to begin with and are the major contribution we make to the organization.
- Feedback is critical for the coaching process. Most successful people can usually point to a key person in their lives who took a personal interest in them and became a role model or mentor, able to offer words of encouragement, wisdom and instruction at pivotal moments. All of us need someone who sees our potential and is willing to invest in us. We should seek to be that person in someone’s life and, conversely, to have someone who is that person in our life.
- Feedback builds self-esteem. People who are sincere in their search for self-improvement and seek to foster growth in others do not rely on shallow communication techniques. Instead, they opt for the arduous task of learning about themselves and developing personal integrity. Improvement in performance and relational skills—and therefore self-esteem—emerges as a byproduct of the real changes in character that take place.
Research has shown that leaders and managers who give consistent, authentic and helpful feedback are perceived by others as being much more effective than those who give poor or no feedback. Make feedback a natural part of the daily environment of your workplace and watch morale and performance improve.