Take Your Employee Feedback From Good to Great

May 21st, 2024 – SkillCycle

Employee feedback is critical in achieving performance goals, yet many organizations aren’t leveraging it properly. Improving how your leaders approach feedback (and how often they deliver it) can be a game changer in how well your team members perform.

Employees are 3.6 times more likely to strongly agree they’re motivated to produce outstanding work when their manager provides daily rather than annual feedback, according to Gallup.

Offering and receiving feedback are two of the more important human skills in management, but many people aren’t well versed in either. This skill gap leads to managers avoiding feedback conversations and employees viewing their annual reviews with trepidation. 

“Any leader who’s going to be enacting any kind of continuous feedback structure must ensure their team has the skill set to give and receive feedback effectively,” says Andrew Hibschman, VP of Customer Success with SkillCycle.

In this article on improving employee feedback, we’ll explore:

  • How to give employee feedback that impacts performance
  • Fostering a culture of open communication and ongoing feedback
  • Why a culture of continuous feedback starts at the top
  • How the right tools enable continuous feedback in your organization


How to give employee feedback that impacts performance

If all your employees receive is a single point-in-time feedback experience that covers 12 months of work, the likelihood of it influencing their future performance is slim. Worse, their likely response to such feedback will be defensiveness.

Why doesn’t feedback offered in annual performance reviews have more impact? It’s the review of past behavior and its delivery that most employees find intimidating. Plus, it’s unlikely any manager will be able to give a fair, balanced review unaffected by recent happenings — also known as recency bias, which can drive down the effectiveness of feedback. 

A better solution is a continuous feedback loop that creates meaningful interactions between employees and managers. This helps to address small, manageable challenges without stress.

“With continuous feedback, growth happens sooner,” says Hibschman. “Giving feedback in the moment enables employees to directly tie it to the action or behavior so they can change it.”

For example, imagine you’ve observed an opportunity for improvement in how an employee handles a sales call. In this case, the solution isn’t to allow them to make sales calls for another six months before you mention what you’ve noticed. This approach doesn’t help anyone involved, or drive positive change.

Instead, with a continuous feedback approach, you’d have a quick chat with your team member immediately, and provide suggestions on how to improve. Then, you’d check in with them after a day or two to see how the new approach is working and to answer questions. 

Even better, following up after a short period of time allows you to collect feedback from your employees in return and discuss any obstacles that arise. This creates open and relaxed conversations that improve employee and company performance.


Fostering a culture of open communication and ongoing feedback

Creating a culture of better employee feedback doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch. In fact, one of the worst things you can do is abruptly announce that your company is moving to a continuous feedback model. 

Feedback can have negative connotations for employees, even those you view as competent and solid performers. Most of your team have probably had unpleasant experiences receiving feedback, so your first communication shouldn’t be that they should expect much more. 

“The best approach to creating a culture of ongoing feedback is to model the behavior, train the skill, and acknowledge and reward people who do it,” says Hibschman.

Leaders and managers can get better feedback rolling by initiating more conversations, asking for feedback from employees, and looking for chances to have quick one-on-one meetings. As these conversations surface ideas and obstacles, bring these into broader discussions and action them in ways that are visible to team members. 

“Let employees know you want to give them feedback because you are invested in them and their growth,” says Hibschman. “And give them time to prepare instead of springing these conversations on them.”

Giving and receiving positive and negative feedback is one of the more valuable human skills in management. Training can go a long way toward ensuring these conversations stay constructive and feel safe for employees. 


Why a culture of continuous feedback starts at the top

When leaders listen actively throughout the year, they boost employee engagement and build a company culture that prioritizes innovation—both of which are critical to company success, according to Korn Ferry.

“As a leader, your number one responsibility is to model continuous feedback,” says Hibschman. “Your team needs to see you giving and receiving it, actioning change, and creating a space for feedback to have no risk and no consequence.”

Give feedback outside of review cycles and constantly solicit feedback from your team members to demonstrate that you also want to continue to grow. Let your team see you acting on feedback and participating in learning and growing together. 

Approach employee feedback as though you are all contributors to the company’s success. With a team approach, you’ll gradually build the trust needed to encourage genuine and honest feedback from employees. These investments in relationship building are essential to ensure people feel safe viewing feedback as a means to develop them in their careers, instead of criticism.  


How the right tools enable continuous feedback in your organization

Your best feedback will be timely, relevant, and actionable for the employee. However, any manager with a team of multiple people will struggle to remember details from everyone’s performance over any length of time. 

“Using tools that make ongoing feedback quick and effortless empowers employees to advocate for their needs and successes throughout the year,” says Hibschman.

Platforms that enable ongoing feedback loops and increase these touchpoints can arm you with better data to proactively address development opportunities and skills gaps. 

Supporting managers and employees with a better feedback model can ensure that people get the help they need in real time and are recognized for growth and improvements. Plus, it allows you to proactively target needs as they arise instead of addressing concerns that are months old by the time they’re discussed. 

SkillCycle offers the clarity you need to elevate employee feedback and leverage it for real improvements in performance. Schedule a demo with us to learn how.