Taking point in the feedback process

HR has an important role to play in their organization’s employee feedback and performance management strategy

Taking point in the feedback process

Just over one-third of workers are engaged, enthusiastic, and committed to their work and workplace, according to a recent Gallup poll of 5,033 full- and part-time employees in the U.S. This leaves the majority who are not feeling particularly connected to their work, including 13 per cent who say they are “actively disengaged.”

Retention of talent has been a concern for employers for some time, making strategies that engage and recognize good performers essential. A big part of keeping employees engaged, productive, and feeling a part of the team — especially in an era with an increased proportion of employees working remotely — is keeping the lines of communication open.

HR plays an important role in developing and supporting effective performance management and employee feedback processes — which in turn feeds an organization’s culture, says Ann Buckingham, Executive HR Relationship Manager with ADP Canada, which has developed a free whitepaper, “The newest business necessity: Effective remote employee feedback.” Buckingham notes that HR professionals can take a prominent role in their organization’s feedback strategy to create more opportunities for interaction by empowering managers and their teams with appropriate technology to increase that conversation.

“It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and strengths in our employees and to provide ways of developing expression,” says Buckingham.

As many HR professionals can likely attest, it isn’t always easy to implement change and get buy-in from leaders for any particular strategy. Changing an organization’s culture to become more engaged and responsive to employees isn’t something that can be done overnight. HR people should carefully review their organization’s current system, business priorities, and its readiness for change, she says.

“It’s not easy changing a mindset of an organization or what a senior leadership team is comfortable with,” says Buckingham. “You need to intentionally take a look at the culture you are creating or trying to create and, if the stars align, then change can happen and the business case can be put together.”

In addition to reviewing an organization’s current practices, keep in mind what performance management and employee feedback processes should accomplish, she says. This includes making employees stakeholders by aligning their passions and skill sets with the aspects of their roles that engage them the most — which can benefit the organization and its customers — along with helping the organization identify and leverage team members’ strengths, allowing employees to use their strengths more often and helping to fill in gaps among teams.

By finding out through feedback which activities employees enjoy and which ones they don’t like, managers can try to balance employee strengths to achieve all tasks and increase engagement.

When HR people develop an organization’s performance management and feedback strategy, it’s also important to avoid mistakes that organizations sometimes make when soliciting feedback and in their performance management processes. A common misstep is waiting too long to respond to employee feedback or between check-ins, says Buckingham, who recommends finding “quick wins” and encouraging action within a shorter span of control, where individuals and teams can influence positive outcomes and start change directly. Performance management in particular should be “a living process” that managers and employees revisit regularly.

“The longer you wait to act on feedback and pivot, the more difficult it will be to enact that change,” she says. “If it is just a once-a-year retrospective review of what was or was not achieved, it can easily mean achievements are missed as well as opportunities to coach and support an employee during the course of the year.”

The consequences for an organization of making these mistakes or neglecting its feedback and performance management processes can be significant, so HR people should feel empowered to support a strong feedback and performance management strategy.

“We all like to feel heard in some way or another; feeling heard gives us a sense of value and that we matter,” says Buckingham. “For employees that don’t have this sense of engagement, they are inevitably going to get disconnected quickly, which will likely result in a lack of motivation and productivity, and even lead to turnover.”

For more information on effective remote employee feedback, download a free whitepaper from ADP Canada here.

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