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Why is developmental feedback so important?


by Karen Pearson News

Why is developmental feedback so important?

Whilst undertaking a recent 360 feedback programme for a client, it became apparent that a high percentage of the participants coming to the sessions had not received feedback from their managers for a long period of time.

As a result of the lack of feedback the participants received, a theme had appeared with how the individuals had rated themselves against their selected raters.  A high percentage of participants were consistently underrating themselves.

However, what was interesting was after the participants had recognised this within the feedback session, there was an immediate shift in their confidence to rate higher than they had originally if they were to undertake a 360 feedback questionnaire again.   

That got me thinking of the impact that receiving constructive feedback has on confidence levels and in turn performance levels within the workplace.

I then started to consider some of the reasons individuals and managers had discussed with me during these sessions as to why feedback doesn’t happen often enough or not at all within the workplace.  Key reasons were: -

  • A limited amount of time to manage people - Due to austerity and budget cuts it seems more than ever managers are finding it increasingly difficult to find the time to manage their team effectively.

  • Due to the outcomes of restructures, organisations are creating what I would call “reluctant managers”.  These are individuals who have taken on a role of managing people who have never aspired to become team leaders or supervisors, but as a result of a restructure have found themselves in a position where a manager role is the only role offered to them moving forward – therefore they take it in order to remain employed.  These individuals have no previous experience and receive no development or regular feedback on their performance moving into this role.  As a result of this, responsibilities such as providing developmental feedback and support to the team are not being undertaken.

  • Limited skill set in relation to providing effective developmental feedback.  We need to develop this management skill more in order that we move away from what is called “constructive criticism feedback” to one of a coaching feedback conversation that supports the development of employees within the workplace.

It would seem to make sense to me that when we are in a climate that is seeing an increase once more of organisations reducing training and development budgets, then a solution that would ensure development can still continue effectively and efficiently, would be to ensure managers are developed with the skills to provide development feedback so that learning can then take place in the moment, within the workplace on a daily basis.

Think what impact this would have on levels of performance and engagement within the workplace if individuals received developmental feedback on a regular basis.

Even where there are time constraints for managers, if they have the skill to provide some concise feedback that will increase performance, I would put forward that the question isn’t whether a manager has the time, the question is whether you can afford not to find the time?

Regular feedback can result in a competent, engaged and committed team which in turn means a team that a manager can trust, delegate to and work collaboratively with, which will only ease work and time pressures for managers in the long run.