Emily Marsh

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Why feedback is important in the workplace

November 13, 2018

A feedback-rich culture, where people are comfortable asking for and receiving feedback from their colleagues and managers, can really change how a workplace operates.

But too often feedback is something that happens only once a year, during annual reviews or appraisals. Do you remember the last time someone gave you any feedback on your performance at work? If you had to think about it for more than a few seconds, it was probably too long ago.

Though receiving feedback can be daunting for people, it’s also absolutely necessary if you want to create motivated and high-performing teams.

Here’s why.

It provokes change and fuels growth

Feedback gives people an opportunity to look at themselves in a different light. It helps them see how others perceive them, and the impact that their behavioural style and ways of working has on others in the team. This can be particularly insightful for leaders, as it helps them to see how they may be better able to engender trust and inspire a better performance from their team.

What's more, most people naturally want to succeed in their work, and as a result are often very receptive to constructive feedback. According to Harvard Business Review, 72% of people feel their performance would improve if their managers provided corrective feedback. In fact, the same survey found that 57% of people prefer corrective feedback to purely praise and recognition.

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Even if they aren’t encouraging it, an employee may receive constructive feedback that strikes a chord with them and provokes a change that enables them to become a more effective worker and a better colleague.

It gives people a sense of purpose

As humans, we all want to feel like we belong and are appreciated. In a work context, this means feeling like there is value to what we do and what we bring to the business, and knowing that we are part of a wider team all working towards the same goals.

This knowledge that we are useful and valued gives us a sense of purpose. It shows us that there is meaning to what we do. This is what gets people to show up every day and deliver their best. Giving regular feedback is one way we can show employees that they are valued and useful. Even negative feedback can spur people on to want to do better. Any feedback, good or bad, will reinforce to your employees that there is a point to what they are doing.

It improves employee engagement

A study by Officevibe shows that 4 in 10 workers are actively disengaged when they receive little or no feedback. The research also highlighted how important it is for employees to receive regular feedback. 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week compared to only 18% of employees with low engagement.

Even if they don't vocalise it, employees crave feedback. And with the ambitious and growth-driven younger generations of Millennials and Gen Y now making up a significant proportion of the workforce, feedback is only going to become more focal for companies. Dubbed the “most ambitious generation”, millennials want to continuously learn and do better.

It helps improve working relationships

Peer to peer feedback opens up the communication channels between employees. This can be particularly useful if there is conflict or tension between colleagues. Giving feedback is an opportunity to get things out in the open so that issues can be resolved and they can find ways to work together better. Moreover, regular feedback can prevent conflict from happening in the first place. Small issues can be resolved before they have a chance to escalate into something bigger.

It’s important for employees to receive feedback about how they are performing and where they might be able to improve in their role. But we’re not just talking annual reviews or appraisals. Rather, organisations need a healthy, open culture where people give and receive feedback on a regular and fluid basis.

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