Feedback is a mechanism for change and, if there’s one thing that we know employees want, its to develop and change for the better. To help employees develop and perform at their best it’s vital that employers and line managers provide feedback. It is an essential tool for any manager in a small business.
What is feedback?
Feedback, in an organisational context, is the information given to an individual or group about about their performance of a task or a number of tasks that make up their job role. Feedback occurs when an environment reacts to an action or behaviour. Within the workplace there are various types of feedback. ‘Operational feedback’ is the internally generated information on a firm’s performance, which can filter down to an individual’s performance. Equally, responses to stimuli such as praise or criticism is considered feedback as it may bring about a change in the recipient’s behaviour.
Research has shown that 65% of employees want more feedback from their managers or employers than they are currently getting. When it comes to small businesses, another research has shown that small businesses and startups offers very little feedback across the board with 42% of small business employees claiming that they receive no feedback at all from their managers.
Considering that it has been identified as an important mechanism for change, the number of small businesses that don’t provide a sufficient amount of feedback, if any, is staggering.
Reasons you should give feedback to your employees
Here are some very compelling reasons why you should give feedback to your employees.
1. Opens up a dialogue
The act of giving feedback opens up a dialogue between you and your employees. Knowing that you are honest with them and that they can talk to you helps you to build trust with your employees and colleagues. In doing so, you leave the door open for your employees to approach you to talk further, whether that is socially or about any issues at work for example, both of which are positive.
2. It can be motivating
Receiving positive feedback will always be appreciated by your employees. It is good for them to know what they are doing right which can motivate them to do it again or strive to achieve more. It’s also motivating to receive constructive feedback as it lets your employees know exactly what they need to do in order to reach that target and improve in the future.
3. It’s a tool for continued learning
Not all of us are right all of the time. Giving your employees constructive feedback to let them know what they can improve on aids towards their personal development, something that we know is important to them. Likewise by accepting feedback from an employee it allows you to grow as a leader and a manager and will benefit you in the long run.
4. Your employees want it
In today's day and age, millennial employees are choosing to work in smaller businesses and startups which generally provide a more personalised work experience. As such, part of that experience includes receiving personal feedback from their managers and employees - and without them, they will not feel fulfilled and might be more likely to leave the business.
5. Confirms employee value
Feedback, both negative and positive, confirms to the employee that what they are doing matters. It is important for them to know that their contribution is valued, not just by their direct manager but that it plays a part in the wider success of the business. No one wants to spend their time doing work that isn’t worthwhile or valuable so it’s important to feedback not only when they are doing well but also when there is room for improvement.
6. Provides clarity
Creating a regular feedback habit plays a pivotal role in ensuring that you and your employees are on the same page when it comes to tasks, work and projects. By providing regular feedback throughout a project for example, everyone within the team will know that it is on track, or whether someone else’s expertise could be utilised. Feedback shouldn’t just be a one way process. Managers should also accept feedback from their employees. If an employee requires training or has an issue, they should be able to feedback to their manager for them to action on their behalf.
Giving feedback to your employees is an essential part of being a manager as the process can bring about positive change. Personal development is valuable to the small business workforce and a large part in achieving that is through feedback. Without knowing what they are doing right and, not quite so right, your employees aren’t going to be able to develop in your workplace making feedback crucial to your small business.
Author: Melissa Jones
Mel is the Content Manager at breatheHR. She regularly contributes insights into the current small business climate with a focus on how HR is crucial to the success and growth of UK startups.