30 Jan Engaging Employee Performance
You’ve heard the old adage that ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure’. Yet time and again I meet employers who see performance management, feedback and annual reviews as a dreaded time-sucking activity that prompts heartfelt sighs and copious amounts of eye-rolling.
For our teams to be engaged, productive and successful we have to create an environment where feedback is intrinsic to everyday life. And by that, I mean feedback up and down, left to right across the whole organisation. For employers, getting used to giving and receiving feedback is key, and good communication lies at its heart.
Here are our top tips for building a culture of feedback.
Build trust and rapport
As a manager, it’s your job to empower others to carry out their work to the best of their ability. You lead them, mentor them, guide them.
For that relationship to be successful, your workforce needs to trust you.
Rapport building is essential to achieve this. Care about your staff members – that’s the key. OK, you don’t have to be their best friend or even agree with everything they stand for. But you do need to care about what happens to them. You should want them to reach their full potential, their goals – which both help them to carry out great work for your business. Make the effort to build a real relationship with them so you can understand what matters to them, and in return, they can understand what drives you.
Here’s an example: When we receive feedback from a trusted friend, even when that feedback isn’t as positive as you’d hope, it never feels quite as harsh, because it comes from a place of trust and respect. It’s the same for your team. Let your team know that you care and they, in return, will care about the quality of work they produce for you.
Annual appraisals, a mainstay of most workforces, have their place. They allow everyone involved to reflect on where they’ve been and the goals that lie ahead.
But don’t leave feedback to ‘once a year’. Problems tend to build and crescendo. Regular, in the moment feedback, full of ‘positives’ and ‘what could be better next time’ creates a pattern of continuous learning. It has further-reaching effects and is a lesser burden for everyone.
Taking feedback a step further, build a culture where your team feels comfortable giving YOU feedback. It will build trust and respect and improve your performance alongside that of your team. No-one has all the answers, even if they have become a leader. Show your team you’re willing to learn too, and your relationships will only strengthen because of it.
A huge part of building trust and rapport, listening – really listening – to your team will enable you to understand goals and motivation. Once you’ve established that rapport, you’ll be better able to support, mentor and guide them in their work.
You can even tailor the ways in which you do that, to reach their specific goals and dreams.
Miss out on this crucial step and you risk making incorrect assumptions and misinterpreting people’s actions. This leaves you at risk of eroding the trust you’ve already built up, at the cost of everyone involved.
Focus on output, not input
In a society that is currently obsessed with being ‘busy’, we sometimes miss the crucial fact that busy doesn’t always equal productivity.
Your team can be working themselves into the ground, but if you’re not collectively achieving goals, the work you’re doing has no impact.
Think carefully about the targets and goals you’re setting and make sure they’re focusing on the end output, not how much time needs to be input to achieve those goals.
Give people autonomy
Allowing your team the autonomy to do their work in the way that best suits them is just one of the positive outcomes of focusing on output. It allows you to stop obsessing about HOW people are performing their roles.
Autonomy is key to motivation and engagement at work. No-one works better with a manager peering over their shoulder and questioning their every move. What’s more, giving people a say in how they do tasks means they can really take ownership.
Check-in on your team regularly to get the assurance that things are on track, but don’t insist that everyone carries out the tasks involved in the exact same what that you would. Let it go. They may find a much better way to do the task, and if not, you’re there to guide them.
Look for opportunities to develop your team
Keep an eye out for opportunities to stretch, guide and progress your team’s professional development.
You could delegate a particular project, enable a team member to take the lead on something new, suggest an ideal mentor or provide access to relevant training. Open up doors and empower your team to progress and develop.
This also shows you care, taking you full circle, back to creating relationships based on trust and respect.
How do you deal with communication and review procedures in your business? Contact us today or leave a comment below – we’d love to hear from you.