Feedback and coaching for employee performance

Author- | Posted- | Updated: March 27, 2017 |

How can feedback and coaching be used for improving organizational performance?

In an organizational context, feedback is the information given to a person or group for the purpose of performance management so that the group/person may adjust its performance or behavior in accordance.  It is provided to generate the desired results and to make people perform according to the objectives. Inside the modern organizations, feedback has become an important part of performance management. Providing regular feedback to the employees is important not just for performance but also for job satisfaction and employee morale. For feedback to be effective it must be timely, regular and focused. 

It must be used in tandem with organizational objectives.  Performance appraisal is generally a formal and lengthy process that most organizations undertake once or twice an year. However, such performance management mechanisms are not highly effective at managing performance. Today, companies are using different kind of feedback mechanisms to manage employee performance.

Organizations that are focused at managing their human capital are using several kinds of feedback mechanisms. Feedback comes from sources including managers, peers, performance metrices and even customers and other stakeholders. Companies collect performance related data from several sources to utilize it for giving feedback to their workers. Moreover, use of only formal feedback mechanisms is not very good for managers.

Organizations are therefore using informal mechanisms and encouraging informal communication between employees and supervisors. This facilitates real time feedback and helps employees adjust performance as per the need of the time.   However, even important is to keep feedback balanced because only good or bad news will not help the employees adjust and improve performance. The important thing is to mind both strengths and weaknesses for providing feedback.

In many organizations, feedback is not common and is provided once a month or at bigger intervals. Managers see it as an additional responsibility or a burden. However, they must know it only makes their task easier and helps them lead their teams efficiently. Feedback is an art and if managers are good at it, they will help their employees perform and get better with time. The likelihood of meeting and exceeding the organizational goals also becomes higher with better feedback. There are there important aspects or elements of feedback for it to be effective. They are:

  • Specificity/focus: For feedback to be effective, it must be specific or focused. If it is specific to it goal, it has the desired effect. So, before assigning roles and work, the first critical thing is to establish performance goals. Managers must set performance goals and measure employee performance against these goals before they provide the feedback. Rather than just saying you have done well, they must tell their teams and team members that they have achieved their goal or surpassed it by fifteen percent.
  • Timeliness: Employees must be provided information regarding their performance in a timely manner. If an employee makes a mistake, it is not right to inform him a month later. If employees have to improve their performance, they must be informed of it at the appropriate moment. It is why providing feedback at regular intervals proves effective.  Untimely feedback is useless, ineffective and fails to generate results.
  • Respectful: For feedback to be acceptable, it must be provided with respect. It inspires trust. People accept information that is provided in a positive manner. It does not mean you need to be too sweet or coat your words in sugar. Instead, you should just provide information in your feedback that is essential and accurate. Managers just need to check that their feedback is not considered disrespectful. Your target is to help the workers improve and if they disapprove of your feedback then it is of no help. Inside many organizations, managers overlook the hard work of their subordinates and just focus on the mistakes they made. This is wrong. Instead managers must see what the workers did right and highlight their contribution. Positive reinforcement is good; however managers must add directions for future. Such feedback brings real results. If you are used to constantly criticizing your employees, they will feel bound to grow deaf to it after a certain period.

Feedback can be provided both through formal and informal methods. Formal methods generally utilize carefully planned processes and are based on measurement systems. Such processes are time taking and require collection of data from various sources before finally being provided. So, formal feedback must be supplemented with informal feedback to make the entire process highly effective. Both types work well together to maximize performance.

Informal processes are generally less time consuming and can go on side by side with daily work. Such mechanisms encourage collaboration and facilitate performance. Suppose managers meet their teams in the cafeteria and let them have a brief feedback session regarding their performance in the current project. Peers also ask each other for feedback when they are free from work. This reduces distances and brings people closer to invest more of their strengths into work. It also strengthens team values and creates a positive environment at the workplace.  

Organizational development depends a lot on performance management. In the 21st century, it has become the central focus of most organizations globally. An organization’s capabilities and resources can be wasted if it does not have a proper performance management strategy. Companies are working to make their performance management systems more targeted. Individual employees are the focus of performance management systems because each individual employee is valuable. Now, feedback functions as an essential component of the performance management process.

It is a critical ingredient that fills performance gaps. An important thing that managers must not lose attention of is that their job is to motivate the employees. They are a precious asset and managing them requires care and precision.  Relationships are important and feedback must be used to deepen the relationship between the company and the employees. However, managing performance and feedback is not as easy. It requires both a deep understanding of the people and efforts on a personal level. Managers’ mindset and attitude also has a deep effect on the effectiveness of feedback process.

To make feedback more effective, managers can reinforce it with coaching. When you feed your employees with information on goals and objectives and expected behavior, it is necessary that you empower them with the right skills and knowledge. This can be achieved through ongoing feedback and coaching. Regular coaching with regular feedback can double their performance and improve their confidence. Managers must not just identify gaps in performance but ensure that they fill it with the use of coaching. Effective feedback and coaching increase employee motivation and initiative. It also improves creativity and an attitude of innovation. In this way, feedback and coaching when used in conjunction can prevent any severe problem from occurring.   

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Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.