Many managers underestimate their employees’ ability to handle constructive job performance feedback – so nine out of 10 of them don’t give any. As a result, fewer than half of employees are clear on whether they are doing a good job, Leadership IQ founder Mark Murphy wrote on Forbes.com.
The insight comes from Murphy’s ongoing research, for which he’s asked more than 30,000 employees dozens of questions about their work. When asked, “I know whether my performance is where it should be,” 29 percent of respondents said they “always” knew. And while 90 percent of managers might believe employees won’t take feedback in stride, 39 percent of employees said if given constructive feedback regularly, they’d take it well, even parsing it to figure out where exactly things went awry.
For all the real and perceived employee anxiety around having job performance conversations, Murphy wrote that managers can lessen the likelihood these talks will be stressful by having regular, bite-sized versions of them. Employees want to know whether they’re on the right track. If there are areas in which they need to improve, they want to know them—“Because they know that it’s tough to be successful in their careers if they’re not receiving sufficient constructive feedback,” Murphy wrote.
A manager-employee disconnect around job performance can spell trouble for employee performance, engagement and business results. When managers hold back on giving constructive feedback or reserve it for annual performance reviews, they’re making room for problems to compound and robbing employees of the chance to improve their work.
To develop stronger people managers and more engaged, high-performing employees, learning leaders can encourage managers to ask their employees how often they’d like to receive feedback about their performance, and then proceed accordingly.
Murphy wrote that managers also might consider setting up monthly coaching sessions with employees. This wouldn’t be an alternative to giving regular, real-time feedback, it would be a complement to it. “Each month, have a sit down where you discuss the employee’s high and low points, learning opportunities and areas where they could elevate their performance.”
Bravetta Hassell is a Chief Learning Officer associate editor. Comment below, or email editor@CLOmedia.com.