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Last updated: 21.02.22

How Does Feedback Improve Performance?

Workplace feedback is something that many people dread, but it’s actually one of the most useful tools for personal and professional development. Receiving and encouraging feedback at work creates a culture of growth and motivation, and can help to create a more talented and productive workforce.

If you’re a manager or team leader then a significant portion of your role will involve delivering feedback to the people you work with or are responsible for. Understanding the most effective feedback methods in the workplace and knowing how performance can be improved through this will ensure that the feedback you give makes a difference, as well as helping employees to see why reflecting on their work and setting goals is important.

This article explores some of the key areas that feedback can impact and improve performance, as well as sharing five of the best ways of giving feedback at work.

The Impact of Feedback on Performance

Personal Growth

Perhaps the biggest impact that employee feedback has is on personal growth. Receiving feedback gives people clear examples of what they are doing well and where they need to develop their skills, which helps them to create effective plans to grow as a person both professionally and in their wider life. Without being given feedback it would be difficult to know where to start when it comes to personal development, which is why it is so important to create a workplace culture where feedback is regularly asked for and delivered.

Motivation

It can be difficult to feel motivated at work without having any idea about whether you are doing well or not. Positive feedback at work is a great way to motivate employees to keep doing well in their roles and encourage them to continue to succeed by ensuring that hard work is always noticed and praised. If your workforce is motivated to do well, they will perform better more consistently, the work that they produce will be of a higher quality and the business will benefit as a result.

Creativity

Workplace feedback can have a positive impact on creativity for multiple reasons. The first is that being in a positive frame of mind encourages higher levels of creativity, so if your workforce is regularly receiving good feedback then creative ideas will come more easily and they will feel more motivated to explore imaginative solutions. Feedback can also provide employees with a good understanding of which ideas are successful and which may not have the same kind of impact, which will help to hone their creative skills and ensure that the quality of their ideas improves over time.

Morale

Low morale in the workplace can have a significant impact on productivity and the quality of work being produced. One of the key reasons why employee feedback is important is that it can help to make everyone feel appreciated and positive when they are at work, especially in situations where things are challenging or stressful. 

Ensuring that your employees know where their strengths lie and what they have done well will create a more positive atmosphere, as well as making sure that all constructive feedback comes with the necessary support to overcome any issues. Higher morale will then lead to improved performance at work across the board.

Job Satisfaction

Providing and encouraging feedback at work means that all employees end up with a clear idea of what they are doing well and when their performance has been particularly appreciated. This improves their job satisfaction, as they feel appreciated and know that hard work and progress will be rewarded.

When individuals feel more satisfied with their role, their performance at work is much better than those who are unfulfilled or unclear as to whether they are doing what they should be.

Clarity

A key issue when it comes to employee performance comes from a lack of clarity over what is expected from a role. If someone doesn’t know what they need to do to improve or excel at work or is left unsure of what needs to be done simply to meet the requirements of their job, they will get less enjoyment out of what they do and usually end up leaving the position after a short time.

Constructive and positive feedback at work is the simplest way to let employees know whether they are meeting expectations in their role and where they could improve. It’s the best method for improving workforce performance as it ensures that everyone is aware of what they need to do to succeed and removes any uncertainty that could be impacting productivity. 

Professional Relationships

Whether from a manager or another colleague, workplace feedback can be really useful for building healthy and mutually beneficial professional relationships. Having a culture where feedback is welcomed and met with optimism and a commitment to learning means that your workforce will all be motivated to grow and help one another in doing this.

Having strong workplace relationships is great for employee performance because it also leads to more harmonious collaborative working, which is more productive and efficient.

Meaningful Discussion

When feedback on work performance is given in a positive and considerate way, it facilitates meaningful discussions about what employees can do to improve their work and help them to get better at identifying whether their strengths and weaknesses lie. Not only do these kinds of discussions lead to better workplace relationships, but they also improve performance because they’re much more effective at facilitating change than other methods of sharing and receiving feedback such as automated performance reviews or evaluating KPIs.

Goal Alignment

Finally, workplace feedback can improve performance because it helps to align employees’ personal goals with the overall aspirations of the business. If you review how someone is doing at work in relation to the values and goals of the company, it is easy to identify the areas that they need to improve in to bring them closer to working in line with the businesses goals. This will not only improve individual performance but the performance of the company as a whole, as all employees will be developing and honing their skills in a way that compliments the overall aspirations of success.

Five Ways to Give Feedback

  • Organise a Meeting

The simplest way to facilitate a situation where you can give feedback is to organise a meeting. This could be a formal, structured discussion or more of an informal chat, but it should be a one-on-one conversation that is held in a private and neutral space.

Make sure that the other person knows the purpose of the conversation beforehand, so that they’re not stressing about what it might involve. This can also allow them to prepare questions or identify areas where they would like specific feedback, which will lead to a more productive discussion.

  • Close Discussions with Feedback

If you’re looking for more organic ways to give feedback, try and get into the habit of closing conversations with employees by giving them advice or praise. It doesn’t have to be particularly detailed, but confirming that someone has done a good job, telling them that you have seen an improvement in their performance, or offering insight into how they can make working towards a goal easier will end the conversation on a productive note and make giving feedback feel more natural.

  • Feedforward

Feedforward is a method of giving feedback that was created by Marshall Goldsmith and focuses on future behaviour instead of past events. By feeding forward, you avoid making someone feel bad about their previous behaviour (which cannot be changed) and instead help them to understand what they can do to avoid a repeat of this in the future, putting a positive spin on the feedback.

Feedforward is a kind of constructive feedback because it includes suggestions for future behaviour as well as reflecting on what someone has already done or is doing.

  • Create Feedback Forums

If you’re in a managerial position at work, or even if you’re an employee who is keen to share and receive more feedback on your performance, creating feedback forums can be a great way to facilitate discussions that will help everyone to learn and improve. These forums could take a variety of forms, from monthly meetings that people attend to share and receive advice from their coworkers, to an online space or group conversation that is dedicated to asking for and receiving feedback.

  • What and Why

What and why is a very simple way to give feedback that splits the feedback into two parts; what happened and why it was good or needed improving. If the feedback you are giving is positive then the why should give specific details on why someone’s actions or behaviour were good so they know what they should do again, whilst negative feedback should be approached by explaining why what happened wasn’t ideal and then quickly following up with how this can be improved in the future.

FAQs

Why is constructive feedback important?

Constructive feedback is a type of feedback that focuses on finding areas for improvement in someone’s behaviour or performance. Instead of just giving feedback that simply comments on what someone has done, constructive feedback uses this as a vehicle to suggest changes and actions that will improve performance or avoid mistakes in the future.

How do you ask for performance feedback?

Asking for performance feedback at work is a great way to identify areas to improve on and get a good idea of how you are perceived by managers and other employees. You can ask for performance feedback by speaking to your colleagues and offering to give them help or advice in exchange for feedback, or setting up more formal meetings with your team leader or line manager to discuss your performance at work. It can also be worth getting into the habit of asking for feedback from clients or colleagues in other departments after you have finished a project as a way of gathering feedback as you work.

Why is feedback important in the workplace?

Feedback is important in the workplace because it provides a method of facilitating development. When you are given feedback at work you get a clear idea of the things you are doing well and the skills you need to improve, which will help identify areas to work on and consequently lead to doing better in your role.

Summary

When feedback is given constructively and empathetically, it can be an incredibly useful tool to help employees get more satisfaction out of their job by increasing success and improving their attitude towards development. The best managers are ones who take the time to give really meaningful feedback that makes a difference to workplace performance, helping their employees to identify the best ways to improve and learn from the feedback they are given.

If you’d like to find out more about the impact of feedback and how best to give advice at work that can improve employee performance, we cover this topic in our ‘Giving Constructive Feedback’ course which is ideal for business professionals looking to boost their leadership skills and knowledge.

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