Once goals and direction are set and conveyed, it is important that the employee receives feedback on his/her performance periodically, so as to prevent mismatch between the manager's and employee's expectations.
Feedback is also a good mechanism for encouraging employees to continue working towards the commonly agreed performance parameters.
“It could also be used as an early warning method in cases where performance is not on par with what is expected. This prevents last-minute surprises when the company initiates corrective measures. This also builds organisation’s credibility as a fair and transparent enterprise,” says Avadhesh Dixit, chief human resources officer at Acuity Knowledge Partners (previously known as Moody’s Analytics), a provider of high-value research, analytics, and business intelligence to the financial services sector.
Apart from the mid-year feedback cycle and year-end feedback (annual appraisal) cycle, Acuity encourages its managers to have continuous feedback through regular conversations with their team members.
“We have an open-door policy wherein; the management encourages the employees to reach out in case of any performance-related concerns,” he says.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Dixit weighs in on what the characteristics of good feedback are, how employees can use feedback to grow, and what are the skills to give critical feedback effectively enough to register.
How can employees use the power of feedback to grow and improve?
Open and transparent feedback can be a good way for the employee to acquire the requisite skills for optimal performance or transition mid-way to a desired career path. Good feedback can trigger higher self-awareness and sense of purpose.
Feedback could touch on training requirements that the employee can access within or outside the company. These training programmes pertain both to functional as well as soft skills like emotional intelligence, communication etc.
We have inbuilt a module in the HRIS system which enables the employees to seek continuous 360-degree feedback from the colleagues they have worked with in various cross-functional projects. HRIS documentation also helps in avoiding any potential conflicts or misunderstanding between staff and managers.
Giving critical feedback is even harder in the remote-working environment. How can leaders do this effectively?
Once the goals and expectations are clear, giving feedback in any setting, including in the remote-working environment, is not difficult.
The difficulty arises when there is a mismatch of expectations and the direction is not clear. The remote work setting also requires mature tools to monitor employee productivity, and any ambiguity on that front could present differences of opinion on staff performance against defined goals.
Acuity has a pre-defined goal template for all employees which is assigned to them at the beginning of the year through HRIS, to avoid any ambiguity on role expectations. The template is also editable to the extent to accommodate goals around any special project that the employee has undertaken. In Acuity, around 96% of employees and managers complete the goal setting and review process through HRIS.
What are the characteristics of good feedback?
Good feedback must be honest, empathetic, and transparent and be imparted cordially if the employee is to receive it effectively.
Good feedback focuses more on the performance outcome, rather than on the individual. Feedback should ultimately trigger positive action and be aimed at development rather than being punitive.
In Acuity, as a culture, all employees and managers are expected to be kind, to be respectful, and do the right thing. The top-down driven culture ensures that the feedback given to the employees is timely, empathetic and focuses on enabling and encouraging the employees to come up the performance curve as the focus must be on the performance rather than the shortcomings of the individual.
What skills are important in giving effective feedback?
The most important skill is to be non-judgmental and to base all feedback on facts rather than on opinion. Other skills required are empathy and the ability to listen.
As an organisation, it is important to drive a culture of respect and empathy in all aspects of employee engagement including performance management. Employee experience is an integral part of any employee feedback process.
Effective feedback focussed on developmental aspects is bound to go a long way in creating excellent employee experience that then gets translated into high engagement levels. As part of our soft skills development, we also have training programmes that help staff in giving and receiving constructive feedback.