We’ve written, tweeted, and blogged a lot about feedback already. That’s because it’s so important to every employee’s development and success. Feedback is often viewed as a negative thing, when in reality, it is the only way through which to improve performance and leadership skills. We’ve come up with a couple of examples to illustrate our point:
Imagine that you are back in first grade. You get to color for a grade, recess, and a never-ending supply of juice and pretzels for snack. Life is good. At “reading time”, you are finally learning how to read, and are practicing by reading aloud to the class from your textbook. You stumble over some words, not sure what they mean, and say whatever word comes first to your mind. This is normal for a first grader. Its also normal for a teacher to provide feedback, corrections, and praise on your performance by correcting misspoken words, helping you sound out words when you struggle with pronunciation, or praising you for successful completion of your task. After stumbling through some passages and cruising through others, you look to your teacher, who guided you through your mistakes and successes, and she provides a meaningful nod of approval for your hard work. Those pretzels and juice taste oh-so-much sweeter now.
But what would happen if the teacher never provided feedback? You’d continue reading, making the same mistakes, and sounding like a jumbled mess. Some students, naturally adept at reading, would excel. Others would struggle and fail. All in all, most students wouldn’t learn too much—and would fail exams, state standardized tests, and never move up in grade level.
Now put yourself in your organization’s office. You are doing everyday tasks, going about your workday with vigor and dedication. Happily (even through it’s a Monday morning) you complete your daily tasks while providing a supportive environment for those around you. Your boss reinforces your positive behavior verbally or in an email, letting you know you’re doing a great job. Maybe you even get an “Employee of the Month” award, or get taken out to coffee by your superior. Either way, you are assured of your great performance and positive contribution to the organization, and in turn are driven to continue with your hard work.
Or perhaps it’s the other way around. Imagine that you are providing your employers with a lackluster performance, dragging your feet and complaining. You’re late to meetings, you fail at communicating effectively, or you simply cast a negative persona to coworkers and clients. This could be conscious, or this could be involuntarily due to outside influences or poorly developed organizational and leadership skills. Your superiors let you know that you are not fulfilling their expectations, and advise you to fix your behavior.
But what if neither office encounter happened? The model employee, once full of excitement and passion for his job, loses motivation because of lack of recognition for his hard work. The less-than-model employee continues his detrimental behaviors, and begins to effect productivity and the morale of those around him. Where is the essential feedback from supervisors and peers that can mitigate these issues? And how can either employee know what his or her employer is thinking without their feedback?
Clearly, in all stages of life, feedback is important. Without feedback, we lose direction, focus, and motivation. This is one more reason we at TBC are so fond of 360 Feedback surveys. They allow feedback from all sides, never missing an aspect of character that one facet of a reviewer pool may not see. We believe that through 360 feedback surveys and coaching, mediocre employees can become great employees, and top employees can become company leaders.