Feedback is the Boss’s Job

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Recently, Mark Murphy posted to the Business Execution Blog about research his company, Leadership IQ, did about feedback. Here’s the lead to his post, titled, “Employees are Desperate for Feedback.”

“Note to managers: Employees need a lot more feedback about their performance. According to a new study by Leadership IQ, 51% of employees don’t know whether their performance is where it should be. That’s pretty shocking, so I’ll say it again: We asked 3,611 workers across 291 companies to respond to a series of survey questions, including the question “I know whether my job performance is where it should be.” The results? 51% Disagreed while only 21% Agreed (27% were in the middle).”

That probably doesn’t surprise you. “Giving feedback” is something we tell bosses to do, usually without giving them training in how to do it. Then we get surprised when they don’t do it much and don’t do it well.

In my Working Supervisor’s Support Kit, I lay out the things you need to do in order to give feedback. Here’s an outline.

Be able to describe what you expect. For performance issues, you must know the critical tasks that everyone on your team is expected to perform. You need to be able to describe acceptable, unacceptable, and superior performance in each one.

Lay out your expectations. Check for understanding.

Show up a lot. Have conversations with your team members. If you do those things you’ll be able to make small corrections to performance issues and catch problems before they grow big, ugly and dangerous.

If you catch a team member doing something well, tell them so. Be specific. Tell them how that superior performance affects you and other team members.

If you catch a team member performing below standard, work together to figure out why. Poor performance might be a resource issue. It might be a training issue. It might be an issue of understanding what’s expected. And, of course, it might be a conscious choice.

Coach, counsel, encourage and correct. Help set the stage for doing better next time.

Repeat as needed, several times a day.

Boss’s Bottom Line

Giving feedback is an essential part of your job. If a team member doesn’t know how they’re doing, you have failed.

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