In a recently published study, Google observed more than 10,000 managers in their daily environment. By analyzing their habits and actions, they were able to identify what makes them highly effective. One of the 6 key attributes Google instils in its managers is their ability to deliver feedback efficiently. Feedback is the communicative process by which people share valuable insights with each other, in order to improve the general performance of operations. The ability to give constructive feedback is crucial to the development of both employees and companies.
Managers seeking to improve their feedback deliveries must thoroughly understand the different types of feedback. Understanding is an essential step to enable a manager to take a calculated approach to how they can deliver feedback efficiently.
Why is feedback important?
Keeping employees informed and aware of how they are performing makes a business is more likely to develop and thrive. Mistakes, areas that need improvement and what is done well should be communicated. When employees care about their job, they seek insightful advice on how to improve and do better. It is a crucial component of the manager/employee relationship.
By delivering effective feedback, a manager can work with more engaged and efficient workers. On the other side, by receiving effective feedback, employees feel guided. They know what to focus on and feel more confident when undertaking different tasks. Feedback is thus crucial for both sides. However, communicating any type of feedback will not necessarily have the desired effect. It is important to understand the types of feedback to target it correctly in order for it to have the desired effect: general improvement.
The different types of feedback:
Negative feedback generally has an unfavourable stigma, of being simply criticism and unconstructive. It focuses on things that have happened in the past, and its objective is to prevent such things from happening again. This type of feedback redirects employees towards focusing on the right goals instead of repeating futile tasks.
Positive feedback focuses on past behaviour that was successful, worth praise and should be maintained in future efforts. It is important to remember that giving positive feedback is much easier than giving negative, and thus should not be overused. The positive one may be received better than the other, and balancing these two types of feedback is paramount to keep employee morale up and boost engagement. Positive feedback includes the use of appreciation, encouragement and guidance.
Negative feed-forward is a form of feedback that works by giving corrective comments about future performances. Much like negative feedback, its goal is to correct actions and behaviour. However, instead of focusing on past performances, it focuses on the specific behaviour or action that should be dropped.
Positive feed-forward, like negative feed-forward, does not focus on past behaviours or actions. It works by delivering affirming comments about future behaviour; focusing on behaviours and actions that should be maintained, as they will bring improvement to future performances. This type of feedback should be used when a specific action needs to be cultivated.
All four forms of feedback provide different perspectives on an employee’s performance. Incorporating components of each of these types of feedback on a regular basis is extremely efficient. It is important to be free from bias when delivering feedback and to balance motivational (positive) and developmental (negative) feedback. Managers can either be viewed as mentors or monsters. They can not only provide direction but also to teach their employees through clear communication. Efficient feedback enables managers to give explicit instructions, set goals, and lead their teams to be more independent.