Four Vital Elements Of Feedback

In talent management, we consider feedback to be important for many reasons.  It raises awareness of strengths and development areas.  It motivates individuals to improve.  It makes people feel happy and valued.  Ultimately, it enhances individual and organisational performance.

Well, that’s what we think.  However, there’s a problem with feedback.

From research and practice, we’ve seen that feedback can decrease performance if not done properly.  Psychologists Kluger and DeNisi found this in 32% of cases from their meta-analysis of feedback research.  That’s a very high number for something to have the opposite intended effect.

Since then, we’ve learnt that creating an unfriendly environment, delivering messages insensitively, and/or focusing on the wrong things all lead to decreased performance after feedback.  Research, and our experience, clearly shows we need to start thinking more about the nature of the message we’re delivering, and the personality of the feedback receiver.

For greater certainty that you’re delivering effective feedback, think about the following four points:

  1. Positive feedback is statistically more powerful than negative feedback.

One of the main challenges in giving feedback is when you have to deliver a negative message.  Some people naturally respond well to criticism and actively seek it, whereas others avoid it and feel quite emotional in the face of negative feedback.  One thing is true; everyone responds well to praise and feedback on what they’ve done well.

Clearly it’s important to help people change in areas they need to develop.  However, ignoring people’s strengths is not only demotivating; it’s statistically the wrong thing to do according to research.  Constructive messages that are phrased in a positive way and framed around what an individual has done well will be more effective.  One technique to achieve this is called ‘FeedForward’; I encourage you to read about it if you’re interested.

  1. Feedback on behavioural change is more powerful than feedback on a task.

Feedback on a task in isolation (from what someone does more broadly) is not as helpful as when it either builds on previous experiences and tasks, or can be used in future scenarios.  Context provides the “so what” to people.  Show people how their behaviour has changed, and make suggestions on how to change it going forward.  Then there will be much more learning taking place.

  1. Feedback needs to maintain self-esteem.

One of the dangers with feedback is decreasing self-esteem.  Weakness can come as a blow to some if not handled tactfully.  This is where using a coaching approach to enable personal reflection is most useful.  Get your direct reports to give you the answers, and they’ll take ownership of their development areas.

  1. Feedback needs to be specific, and based on challenging goals/tasks.

Feedback also needs to be specific and based on challenging goals/tasks.  If the goal wasn’t challenging, it is something you could potentially do in ‘autopilot’.  Ironically this makes it less likely to be achieved, because it’s not motivating.  If the feedback is on an ambiguous task or outcome, then people are less likely to attribute their own actions to the completion of the task itself.

At a&dc, we help clients to give their people these kinds of feedback skills.  Give us a call if you want to learn more about how we do this, particularly if you see feedback as an issue for your organisation.

Author: Jordon Jones

How to Make a Resilient Organisation

Resilience is an individual’s capacity to adapt positively to pressure, setbacks, challenges and change, in order to achieve and sustain peak personal effectiveness.

Research has shown that high levels of resilience (also known as mental toughness) can deliver valuable occupational outcomes for individuals.  It can help people make speedy recoveries from problems, reduce stress, improve job performance, develop positive attitudes and sustain wellbeing.

Resilience is equally valuable to all businesses.  One piece of research (Youssef & Luthans, 2007) demonstrated that the average utility of resilience was $4,150 per employee (based on the mean average salary of around $50,000).  The mean number of employees in the organisations used in the research sample was 13,360 people.  This means over $50 million in business performance was attributable to resilience; an undeniable commercial rationale showing there has never been a more important time to employ and develop resilient individuals who are comfortable adapting to change.

What makes an organisation resilient?

While no universally accepted model exists, there are common themes that explain how organisations show resilience as a collective.

  1. System ‘Redundancy’ – Resilient organisations should continue operating in spite of significant organisational shocks. Look at VW for example; financial resources are available to allow the organisation time to recover from the recent scandal.
  2. Diversification – Resilient organisations should flex to unexpected factors that affect their industry. Processes that are overly bureaucratic may slow down adaptation and may result in missed opportunities. By ensuring variety in its activities, an organisation protects itself from localised downturns in areas of its business, which spreads risk.
  3. Security of Resources – Resilient organisations should ensure that they have secure supply chains, funding and people resources.
  4. Organisational Learning – Resilient organisations communicate internally about what is going on in the external environment, allowing people to learn from changes and adjust efficiently.
  5. Strong Leadership -In situations of crisis, leaders need to be decisive, inspirational and communicate effectively to instil a sense of purpose.

How do you create a resilient organisation?

To make a resilient organisation, you need to have people that behave in ways that embody the above themes.

a&dc have created a high quality tool called The Resilience Questionnaire™, which measures 8 elements that we know from research are vital to being resilient; Self Belief, Optimism, Purposeful Direction, Adaptability, Ingenuity, Challenge Orientation, Emotion Regulation and Support Seeking.

After completing the questionnaire, a feedback report is automatically generated to provide feedback to the employee.  For this reason, the tool can be integrated into a range of talent management activities including coaching, self-development workshops, blended learning, organisational change, development of high potentials, management and leadership development.  As the tool can also generate an interview guide for recruitment purposes, you can now easily start measuring resilience to help you recruit the right people in the first place.

Want to find out more?  Head to the Resilience section of our website for some extra materials and information, or give us a call for some advice!

Author: Jordon Jones