November’s the month when we tend to give a little extra thought to generosity—how we’re helping our family, our friends, our community, even strangers. When it comes to generosity at work, research shows that giving feedback can help employees feel valued and appreciated. That, in turn, can boost morale, productivity, retention—you name it.
Yet for most of us, giving feedback isn’t easy. Who wants to risk upsetting someone and dealing with lingering resentment? Research shows that “feedback reluctance” is real—and it explains why 28% of employees get performance feedback just a few times a year and why 19% receive it once a year or even less.
Another study found that only 14.5% of managers feel they’re highly skilled at talking to employees about their performance at work. That’s concerning since 4 out of 5 employees who leave a feedback session feeling demoralized say they’d consider other job opportunities.
The BIT framework: straightforward and effective
Here’s some good news. You can learn how to give effective, meaningful feedback—about something positive or negative—that leaves people feeling motivated, inspired, and clear about your expectation and values. At People Spark, we teach our clients how to use a simple three-part framework for performance management we call BIT. BIT stands for Behavior. Impact. Tomorrow.
BIT is one of our favorite HR tools because it helps you give clear, meaningful, actionable feedback about any situation. (Confession: We’ve both used it with great success with our kids—and our husbands!) BIT helps you break down the feedback process into three manageable chunks so you can pinpoint the behavior you want to address, explain the impact it has on your business, and communicate what your expectations are moving forward.
Let’s look at two workplace examples of BIT.
BIT for offering positive feedback
Scenario: You noticed your employee, Heidi, double-checking an order before it ships. You want her to keep up the great work. Her diligence is good for business!
- Behavior. Identify the specific behavior you want to address.
“Heidi, last night I noticed you double-checked the customer’s order, and you even double-checked the quantities that were being shipped.”
- Impact. Tell Heidi about the positive impact of her behavior.
“Providing this kind of care lets our customers know they can trust us. That helps build our reputation as a reliable company, even as we grow.”
- Tomorrow. Let Heidi know what you want her to do in the future.
“That was a great example of the type of culture I want us to build here. I appreciate you, Heidi. Thank you!”
BIT for providing constructive feedback
Scenario: You noticed that Heidi was rushing to get an order out on time. As a result, she forgot to include a product in the shipment. You don’t want this to happen again.
- Behavior: Let Heidi know exactly what the problem was.
“Heidi, yesterday I noticed that you were rushing to ship an order. You didn’t double-check the pallet before it got loaded into the truck.”
- Impact. Explain what happened as a result.
“This morning I found a box of product that should have shipped with that order. Now the customer will be shorted. We’ll need to pay overnight shipping to fulfill the order.”
- Tomorrow. Clearly state your expectations about such behavior in the future.
“Heidi, this sort of mistake can damage our company’s reputation. It’s not acceptable. In the future, I expect you to double-check the order before it ships. Thank you.”
Worth noting: When using BIT to address a negative situation, a conversation focused on a behavior—not a person—feels a lot less charged.
Take a feedback cue from the dentist (really)
Here’s a little more food for thought. When it comes to performance management, it’s a lot like taking care of your teeth. If you skip out on brushing and flossing until the day before your dental appointment, no amount of last-minute scrubbing is going to save you from the drill. On the other hand, even if you don’t always brush for two minutes twice a day and floss before bed every single night, you’ll still probably be in pretty good shape next time the dentist asks you to open wide.
In other words, consistency is key. That’s why we recommend spending a few minutes each day building your feedback “muscle.” When you take the time to regularly recognize your employees for doing good, you’re helping to create a company culture that truly reflects your expectations and values. Now that’s a recipe for a generous, and flourishing, business.
Kristen and Erin
Book a call with us to learn how to apply these and other concepts in your business.