One of the most common questions we hear from customers is: who should be invited to provide employee feedback?
Managers are an obvious answer, but feedback shouldn't end with them. The more contributors involved, the more objective and well-rounded the feedback will be.
We find it’s useful to share the main mistakes we commonly see organizations make. Understanding these challenges will help you identify appropriate candidates and source meaningful feedback.
Here are three common mistakes organizations make in selecting feedback providers.
Intuitively, direct teammates seem like ideal feedback providers. They’re the ones most closely associated with the employee on the org tree and hypothetically spend the most time with them.
That's not always the case. Some employees interact often with other teams or are involved in cross-departmental projects. Feedback is intended to assess employee performance and development potential. Those who interact with the employee most often can provide the most accurate feedback on those topics. We generally recommend 5-7 raters to collect comprehensive feedback.
Empower employees to choose their feedback providers. HR representatives or managers typically select feedback providers. But they may not be aware of who employees interact with most. Employees know who can best speak on their performance. Allowing those individuals to add to the feedback pool paints a more accurate picture.
Allow selected raters an opt-out if they don't feel they're best to provide feedback. Being inclusive results in more robust feedback. But you don’t want providers to feel uncomfortable or unprepared to share their opinion. Let raters know that you would appreciate their feedback, but it's not required.
It's assumed that employees will rate themselves favorably, skewing perceptions and creating uncomfortable alignment conversations. But employees need a voice to share how they view their performance and what might be holding them back.
Identify meaningful gaps in perception. If an employee rates themselves highly in several areas but their peers disagree, the employee likely doesn’t understand expectations. The follow-up conversation may be uncomfortable, but the employee needs honest feedback to understand how to improve. You want to identify and correct potential misalignment as early as possible. The longer an employee’s inaccurate perceptions exist, the more confusion and resentment it can lead to down the road.
The most important contributions managers make come after feedback is gathered. Many managers don’t realize their role in the post-feedback process. They may feel ill-equipped to help the employee understand and take action on feedback.
The best managers serve as coaches to their employees. They:
Create manager expectations. Define what manager coaching looks like in your organization. Communicate a post-feedback action plan for managers. In the case of matrix managers, ensure all managers have the opportunity to provide feedback. Provide clarity on who is responsible for helping the employee after feedback is gathered.
Equip them with appropriate resources. Acting on feedback can be an intimidating process, particularly for managers that are unfamiliar with it. Supply information to help them engage in productive post-feedback conversations with employees. Here are a few to consider:
Looking for some question ideas to get your feedback cycles going? Get your copy of our ebook, 360 Feedback Questions.