Feedback is one of those managerial mysteries. Pretty much one everyone in management knows they should be providing it, but so many don’t.
It costs nothing and takes little time, yet it often remains frustratingly elusive.
This subject was on my mind as I was recently speaking with an old friend about two job experiences. In her prior job, getting any feedback at all from her boss was about as easy as removing impacted wisdom teeth. It was a grueling, painful process. Not surprisingly, this lack of communication bred chronic insecurity. How am I doing in the job? I think he likes me, but maybe he doesn’t. I just don’t really know!
In her new job the situation was 100% different. After a couple weeks in her new position, her boss took her aside and said to my friend easily and candidly. “You know, I really like your style. I can see you bring an awful lot of experience to this role. I suspect I can learn a lot from you — we’re lucky to have you.” My friend’s internal reaction? Whoa, that was really nice to hear. It’s great to have a clear idea how I’m doing!
The conversation took about two minutes, and in that time she received more feedback than she’d gotten in her prior job in a year.
65% of employees want more
Unfortunately, my friend’s experience is in no way unusual. Studies show that lack of feedback is a common management shortcoming. One survey concluded that 65% of employees — a seriously substantial number — want more than they’re getting.
This is 100% consistent with my own management experience. In 24 years in management I was involved in many employee surveys. (Our company did a fine job diligently surveying its workforce.) There was only one pain point that over all those years came up in every single survey: feedback. Employees were never getting enough. It was that simple.
And feedback is simple. That’s the odd part about all this. It takes no special talent or ability. Just a willingness to communicate candidly. And naturally it shouldn’t just be positive. Let the chips fall where they may. An employee’s doing well? Say it. An employee needs to improve? Say it.
All just part of the management role. And a key part at that.
Talk about cost-effective. In a management age where “lean” is a near-religion and budgets are under constant pressure, basic managerial feedback is a refreshing change from elaborate employee engagement programs that can take months and serious budget dollars to implement.
The total cost of my friend’s recent morale-boosting conversation? Zero dollars and zero cents.