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Feedback is a Two-Way Street

For some people, the term “feedback” is like a four-letter word, perceived as a euphemism for judgment and even condemnation. Because of that, people often shy away from both delivering and receiving feedback, but that becomes a lost opportunity. Because, in fact, feedback is also about praise and recognition; it can be a very positive and powerful tool, and it can be useful for fine-tuning skills, improving communication and collaboration, and motivating your employees.

Of the companies that wish to establish a developed feedback program, many engage in a 360 feedback program, but do so only once, and then forget to follow up. It’s tough for anyone to make adjustments to work style, behavior, or mentality—and know that they’re making the right changes— if there are too many months between conversations. To be effective, feedback must be delivered regularly, it must be timely, and it should include commentary on what an employee does well. Be sure that your managers and supervisors communicate often with their direct reports—it’s easier to correct behavior when it begins rather than once it’s a habit, and your employees have room for more growth if they feel encouraged and supported.

In addition, it’s important to recognize that these conversations go two ways. Even though many companies ask their employees for input via suggestion or survey, all too often, they fail to prove that they listen to the feedback. Some companies wait too long between asking for the feedback and reporting the results. Some companies bury any negative feedback under piles of the good. Some companies acknowledge all of the feedback but do nothing with it. Unfortunately, any secrecy or shying from the truth makes corporate leadership seem shady. Employees want to know that they’ve been heard, and they want to know that the conversation can continue and that the practice of collecting feedback was useful. Be sure to respond appropriately to their feedback, and they’ll work harder on yours.

Although it’s a lot of work to hold feedback conversations, they’re actually an important part of engaging employees. You’ll help them improve skills, create an atmosphere of trust and collaboration, and increase communication in the office. Plus, when you let it be a two-way street and you truly listen to them, you motivate them to perform even better. So, yes, it takes effort, but you’ll find that the effort pays off.

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