Happiness at work
How to Boost a Team’s Productivity with Meaningful and Timely Feedback
written by Ralitsa Golemanova
Yet another mid-year performance review is approaching. Employees are running around, discussing top behavior and planning strategies and secretly fearing what they’re going to hear about themselves from their superiors. The frenzy is in the air; the horror is in the hearts.
Receiving feedback in the workplace can be a terror-inducing event for many. So how did we end up with work feedback being a horrifying act for the majority of workers out there?
As humans, we cannot help but be vulnerable about the evaluation of our efforts. It comes down to our self-esteem, feeling of achievement, and in many cases, the success of our careers.
But work feedback doesn’t need to be that way. In fact, giving and receiving feedback in your team can boost your group’s productivity, mutual appreciation and overall morale. Whether you’re a team leader or just collaborate with other teammates on a task, timely and purposeful feedback for everybody’s work is important.
Mid-year reviews have turned into a dreaded moment for teams, filled with pretense statements, taking a lot of time, and becoming an excuse not to speak to each other the rest of the year.
But team feedback shouldn’t happen only at the mid-year review, but weekly - and even daily. It can help all on the team perform better, feel better - and achieve more together, ultimately bringing them closer to the mythical and wonderful collective flow state.
In this fourth part of the series How to Make Teamwork Work, we want to tackle the very sensitive topic of feedback in the workplace and see how people can work better together by fostering openness and appreciation in the team.
#1. Closing the loop on assigned tasks
How many times have you had a task sink in oblivion after you’ve executed it? Often, I bet.
When your teammates get assigned a task, they need to know what’s expected of them and how to get there, plus it needs to match their skillset.
These are the golden rules in task management for teams. But besides those three important points, once people have completed the job, feedback is needed from the person who has assigned the task to them. It can take the form of needed revisions, further direction for development - or just the much needed confirmation that they’ve done a good job on it.
In today’s workplace, though, we are often left hanging. We get an assignment, a deadline, sometimes even the rationale behind the required action. But once we’ve accomplished it, the people on the other side forget about it and continue with what’s next.
While this might seem time-efficient, in fact it eats up our productivity. What’s worse, it diminishes our motivation to get the job done well next time because we know we’ll never get a good word about it, not even constructive feedback or advice.
It’s not a matter of lacking of time - it’s rather not realizing the importance of closing the loop on past tasks. That’s the only way to honour people’s work, to offer them improvements or to boost your common productivity in the long run.
#2. Constructive feedback
The ability to give constructive feedback is a basic communication skill - and one that we might regularly overlook for fear of being seen as politically incorrect or exposing ourselves as ‘the bad guy.’
Indeed, suggesting ideas or improvements to your teammates is a tricky deal. You need to tread carefully without withholding valuable input, while finding the most effective, non-intrusive and respectful way to introduce it.
It all starts with realizing that the magic of teamwork lies exactly in bouncing ideas back and forth, so everybody can pitch in with something useful. An individual can make a great breakthrough, but only strong groups of people can manage to take a revolutionary step.
So, how to get better at giving constructive feedback, nurturing a work culture of openness and collaboration?
Start with giving positive feedback whenever possible. When the time comes to offer a criticism, it’d be much better accepted.
Make sure you always grab a private chat with the person instead of potentially shaming them in public. Once you’re in the conversation, offer positive ways to improve their work instead of only outlining the shortcomings.
Don’t forget to mind your language, as people can get easily offended, especially if their confidence is not having a good day today. And most of all, make sure to listen to their response and rationale for doing what they did.
Finally, make sure to come back to the person in time and see how they’ve taken in your input. Your interest and consideration would not be intimidating - instead your positive attitude can be a pillar for your teammate’s personal and professional development.
#3. Appreciation, the magic we all need
And finally, we come to the third point of learning to give meaningful and timely feedback: appreciation. I have to admit, here at Swipes this is one of our favorite tools for fostering a great company culture.
Showing that you value your teammates and their work is not about creating a hippy environment where you all hold hands and sing kumbaya around the fire.
It’s about the everyday small gestures, quick talks and regular ‘thank-yous,’ which make all the difference in the world for a human being. Whether you’re a manager or one of the team, there is always somebody whom you can show appreciation - for their effective work, great communication or simply because their sense of humor leaves you breathless.
Openness and mutual appreciation can do miracles for the chemistry in your team, increasing their happiness and productivity, which goes beyond short-term financial goals and mid-term performance reviews. And you know what, at some point it can even save your company. It sure did for Swipes.
It’s easier than you think to start acting in a positive way, giving credit when it’s due without secret agendas in mind, and fostering more honest and closer relations with people around you in the office. Appreciation at work starts with the realization that we are all human beings - and we all enjoy being valued and trusted.