Much is said about having a high performing business. Many will bring you data, numbers, and models that they claim will make your workforce and your business high performing. However, none of those will work if your workforce doesn’t know how it is performing. You can have great equipment, a wonderful cutting-edge product and a state of the art facility with which to produce or provide your product or service. None of that will matter if your workforce isn’t performing the best it can. It’s all in the feedback.
Building a positive high performing business, regardless of whose method you choose to use all starts with ensuring that workforce is given value-added performance feedback. Research has consistently shown that workers who get feedback on their performance are twice as likely, and sometimes more, to have higher engagement and as a result higher productivity. Further, their performance improves which then drives success, sustainable success, for the business. Conversely, employees who don’t receive feedback experience lower levels of commitment to the organization and productivity declines. These employees, especially those with potential, tend to leave your business and go to your competitors.
Leaders who provide productive, positive feedback follow common components. These are:
Transparency – leaders who are clear in their instruction, who have a drive for strong performance instead of good enough, are more successful and have more successful workers. The ability to describe clearly what excellence is, identify skills and skill gaps, are necessary skills for a good leader to have. The ability to communicate clearly without vague or ambiguous descriptions is a critical and necessary skill.
Peer feedback – The leader’s opinion, which some may say is the only opinion, is not always the best opinion. Peer or co-worker feedback is also important. Care must be taken when using peer feedback as without the appropriate skills the process can quickly turn into a personal conflict between co-workers. There are many tools available such as 360-feedbacks that can assist with this and better manage the conversations. Ensuring that both strengths and areas in need of improvement, instead of calling them weaknesses, can help build stronger more productive workers.
Client feedback – Many companies seek feedback from their customers. Many others do not. All to often this customer feedback is only used in marketing and the promotion of the business. Ensuring that employees are aware of customer feedback specifics can significantly improve performance. Many times customer concerns can be quickly resolved by the workers who provide the product or service if they are aware of them.
Developmental – Too many leaders provide feedback regarding performance being good or bad. The appropriate use of feedback is that it is first and foremost a developmental tool. Its best use is to improve the performance of the individual, team or business. Being able to turn feedback into developmental plans is a strong and positive means of developing a highly productive worker and business.
Accountability – I am asked constantly to help people be more accountable. While accountability is little more than setting a goal or standard and then achieving it, the behaviors that drive accountability take time to develop. They are not behaviors you can do some of the time. They are behaviors you must do all of the time. Among them are:
- Be specific
- Setting goals properly (glidepathing)
- Using a positive behavior vocabulary
- Measure progress
- Provide feedback
- Link outcomes to consequences
- Evaluate the effectiveness of efforts
Growth – provide specific growth opportunities that go beyond the worker’s current position. Understand what their personal and professional goals are and, when appropriate, have processes in place that can help them.
At the end of the day, your feedback and the ability to give positive feedback is a critical component of improving not only individual worker performance but the company’s performance. As a business leader, you must always find the time to give positive feedback, even when that feedback is pointing out an area that needs improvement.