Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

"Encouraging Feedback"

Newsletter February 5, 2014
One of the items often overlooked in the workplace is feedback. Employees often do not know they are making any mistakes and therefore continue to do so. Miscommunication between levels of management and employees amounts to an overabundance of wasted time. It is important to promote feedback in the office and to create an atmosphere where employees are encouraged to contribute ideas, share problems, and ask questions. Are you confident this is the atmosphere in your operation? Here are some ideas on building a great working culture.
1. Feedback should be specific, timely, and focused.
Do not just simply say, "Good job." This is way too vague, to the point of being meaningless. Give examples on what worked well in one project and how it could be applied to another similar one. For instance, perhaps a creative sales approach led the company to gain an important client. After pointing that out, show other areas where the technique could be used and which areas it wouldn't work, to stimulate the thinking of the other employees.
2. Praise small improvements as well as large ones.
Many managers feel that if they're not yelling, their employees know they're doing a good job. No news is good news type of approach! This is not a positive attitude to take because it encourages fear or anxiety towards higher management. Thus, this approach inhibits creativity and hard work in fear of doing something wrong. Instead, support even small steps in the right direction so employees can work to their best potential. When we ask people to step out of their comfort zone and do something new, by definition, they won’t be perfect at it for the first few times. We have to encourage those forays into the new with praise.
3. No news is not always good news.
On the flip side of the coin, if an employee is making a mistake, no matter now trivial, correct it immediately. This will prevent small errors from turning into larger, more destructive problems. Your version of the project direction and your subordinates take on the matter, have a peculiar habit of diverging and so better to correct the direction early before the waste of time and money grow too large
4. Congratulate peers on promotions.
Remember that everyone in the organization is a team working towards a common goal. Encourage those that are helping the group succeed by recognizing their strength and diligence.
5. Create a common forum to share ideas.
Whether it is a bulletin board or a weekly meeting to generate suggestions, a specific time or place will help everyone to contribute feedback that can better the company. Reluctance declines when people feel they make a difference to a greater cause. Killing creativity by lambasting ideas you don’t like or agree with is going to see you doing all the work on the idea front. Don’t critique during the idea formulation stage – do that at the evaluation point at the end.
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