Not long ago, after giving a presentation at the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, Erin and I were mingling with attendees (and sampling some darn good turkey). A manager at a local business approached us and started to vent. “No one cares about their work anymore,” he told us. “There’s no work ethic, and employees aren’t engaged. Don’t even get me started on Millennials.”
Erin put down her fork and asked our new friend a pointed question. “If I asked each of your team members how well they’re doing in their role, would they know the answer?”
The question stumped the grumpy supervisor, which didn’t surprise us at all. We’ve asked countless managers this very question, and their response is nearly always the same: silence, with a hint of confusion.
Fact: Many managers struggle with giving feedback
Which is too bad. Supervisors are on the frontlines of communicating with employees, and it usually falls on them to ensure people feel valued and appreciated so they’ll stick around for the long haul. One sure-fire way to keep your team motivated and committed is to regularly give clear, meaningful feedback, whether to recognize a job well done or to help someone change their approach to a project or task.
(Read this post to learn about a surprisingly straightforward framework for giving feedback.)
Research shows there’s a strong correlation between giving meaningful feedback (either positive or negative) and having energized, loyal workers who are invested in the long-term success of the company. Yet many managers struggle with giving feedback, and only 14.5% feel they’re “highly skilled” at talking about work performance. No wonder only 28% of employees get feedback a few times a year, and just 19% hear how they’re doing once a year or even less.
Feedback is an antidote to staffing shortages
These concerning statistics are borne out almost every time we talk to clients. When we ask individuals and teams to gauge how they’re doing at work, here’s what they say:
“I guess I don’t know.”
“They haven’t fired me yet!”
“No news is good news, right?”
Wrong. Workers at every level—including managers and supervisors—want, need, and deserve to get regular updates about their job performance, including what they’re doing well and how they can do things better. Feedback ensures employees think and act in ways that support the company goals. It also helps people understand how they contribute to business success—another key factor in job satisfaction and retention. A feedback void, on the other hand, leaves employees feeling unmoored, inspired, and heading for the exits.
Given how tumultuous the labor market is right now (according to one report, over 40% of the global workforce is considering a job change), managers should worry less about hiring someone new and focus more—much more—on making the most of an existing team. It’s a smart business strategy, because investing in your people today means you won’t have to spend precious time, money, and resources on a job search tomorrow.
The great news is that every manager and supervisor can start leveraging a tool that not only helps boost morale and drive retention but also is remarkably simple to use—not to mention totally free. There’s no time like the present to start telling employees how they’re doing.
We help businesses develop strong leaders who know how to drive productivity and retention by recognizing employees and giving clear, meaningful feedback. Email us to learn about our customized services.