As I write this on Valentine’s Day, I am watching many a delivery come into our office. Large bouquets of flowers, cards with loving words, and personal deliveries from family members carrying balloons and gift bags all to say, “I love you, I care about you, I want you in my life, thoughts of our future together make me smile,” and so on. What kind of response do I see from the recipient? A warm glow and big smiles as co-workers come over to praise the sender on their choice with ooohs and aaaahs. It’s hard to be in a bad mood after all that isn’t it? What do you think happens to the interaction with the sender? It is probably a bit nicer, friendlier, maybe even more helpful? Look at what a message of love can do!
So what does this have to do with work? Think about it. Valentine’s Day gifts are gifts of feedback. When is the last time you showed your employees and staff some “love?” Have you told them you appreciate them lately?
According to the Business Dictionary found online, feedback is a process in which the effect or output of an action is “returned”- (the feedback) to modify the next action. Most likely the sender of flowers is hoping for feedback? A kiss, maybe? (We’ll leave the speculation there to keep it clean) The Directory goes on to say that feedback is essential to the working and survival of all regulatory mechanisms found throughout living and non-living nature, and in man-made systems, such as the education system and economy. In other words, feedback is necessary in all aspects of life and business. As a two-way flow, feedback is inherent to all interactions, whether human-to-human, human-to-machine, or machine-to-machine.
Wow! If feedback is so necessary, why do so many managers not give feedback? In the staffing business we contact hiring managers on a daily basis to oversee temporary assignments and facilitate hiring decisions; it is surprising how much of our coaching to both parties is in giving and receiving feedback. In my experience, the reason many do not offer feedback is that we think of it as negative, therefore uncomfortable. We associate feedback with conflict, but it doesn’t have to be way. When our customers give us feedback on our products or services, is it always negative? Even if it is, doesn’t it allow us the opportunity to use that information to improve our processes or products? That feedback from customers is valuable intelligence on how we can make our companies better.
Think of your personal relationships, if your husband or wife drives you nuts when they wash jeans with whites and you never tell them, what happens over a period of time? You get irritated every time you see those items washed together and eventually a fight ensues over how to sort laundry, when all it would have taken was a little feedback to avoid an unnecessary fight. I’m sure you can insert your own example to see how a lack of feedback can cause the biggest of fights.
Now take that same approach in providing feedback to your employees. If you don’t ever tell them they are doing a good job in handling certain aspects of their job, they may not take as much pride in that task. Conversely, we should provide feedback on what they can improve upon and how. If they don’t know something is wrong, and we allow ourselves to get frustrated with their work, who is really to blame? I say, you, for lack of providing feedback.
As we have moved past Valentine’s Day, remember gifts of feedback don’t have to be in the form of a once a year flower delivery similar to the annual review. Impromptu gifts of feedback are often more valuable and appreciated.
About the Author, Patty North, Regional Manager Patty has worked with Celebrity Staff for the last 14 years, 12 of those years in a management role directly supervising 75+ employees and indirectly supervising 400 employees throughoutNebraskaand theKansas City,MOarea. As a certified personnel consultant with a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences, Patty has served as an Advisory Board member of ICAN (Institute for Career Advancement Needs), is a past-president of the NE Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NAFCS), and has been a guest speaker at the University of Nebraska – Omaha on topics ranging from resume writing to interviewing as well as a presenter at Women’s Leadership Conference in addition to several other achievements. In her free time Patty enjoys spending time with her husband Dave and her step-daughter Bailey.